The Bascule Whisky Bar: New, has it improved?

If you know me, you will know that my second home is the Bascule Whisky Bar at the Cape Grace hotel.  It is a bar for all seasons. From a quiet Sunday morning coffee and the papers to a ripper Friday night party and taxi home, from summer cocktails on the jetty to winter soup in the lounge.

So when at the beginning of February the Bascule suffered a flood and had to close for a bit, I was upset. When the hotel said I would have to wait until May for Bascule to re-open, I was angry.  When they said they were completely renovating, I panicked. The Bascule is one of the best whisky bars in the world. Why mess with a winning formula?

Having spent a few days and nights soaking up the vibe, I understand why. New Bascule is better than Old Bascule. It’s not perfect. But it has improved. The outside area is more comfortable and well thought out. There are places for large groups to gather or for a quiet sundowner, solo.  The tables along the edge of the jetty are ideal for work or play.  With views of the mountain and marina, the yachts and the seals, it’s almost impossible not to have a wonderful time.  The lounge is more cosy, warmer and more conducive to romance, reading, red wine and risotto.  The main bar area. Ja well no fine. It needs work. It has lost the old whisky bar feel and is now, to quote a mate, a bar where you want to order a cranberry juice cocktail, not a whisky.  I understand the logic of making it more open, more modern, but I prefer deep armchairs, comfortable couches and more privacy.

The biggest change is that indoor smoking is banned. No cigars indoors, which is not ideal, but it is something I gladly give up to avoid the stench of cigarettes. A good move by management.

What of the food and drink?  There is excellent beer on tap from CBC – The Cape Brewing Company with the ex-Paulaner brewer-in-chief behind the beer.  The food – the Wagyu beef burger (R 145) is an outstanding new addition. There is fried fish and chips or grilled fish and salad (R 85), assorted Tapas from R 35 to R 70 and desserts from R 45 up to their legendary cheese platter at R 120.  There is a well priced, well thought out wine list.  Now, the whisky. Yes, the whisky. Something like 400 to choose from.  One for every day of the year, plus a bit.  You can have whisky tasting from the whisky sommeliers or you can take yourself on a journey of discovery. I’ll meet you there to help you on your way.

If Whisky is at the heart of the Bascule, the people are the soul.  Locals, tourists, business visitors and politicians, movie stars &massage practitioners, Bascule has it all. Let’s hope that whisky and people remain the focus.

Bernard Gutman