The Rabbit pulls Best Cocktail Bar in South Africa out of the hat

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Cape Town secret, The Art of Duplicity is the winner of the prestigious 2020 Cocktail Bar of the Year Award, presented by The South African Bartending Accolades and Recognition (B.A.R.) Awards. Alongside the bar itself, Brent Perremore, the head bartender affectionately known as ‘The Rabbit’, also received the coveted Trailblazer of the Year Award.

The Art of Duplicity is a beautiful paradox, simultaneously being one of the most celebrated bars in the country, with several awards to its name, while also keeping its location a secret. As a speakeasy, it doesn’t publish its address, letting guests discover it through word of mouth alone. Despite its discretion, the bar has captured the hearts and imaginations of visitors from Cape Town and around the world. “It’s remarkable to us that even in a strange, confusing time, we’re still being recognised as doing something special,” says owner David Donde. “And these awards affirm for us that we’re doing the extraordinary.”

The bar is the brainchild of entrepreneur Donde and bartender Brent Perremore, envisioned as an ode to 1920s Prohibition culture. Its password-protected doors opened in an inconspicuous alleyway sometime in October of 2018, only known to a select few. Since then, the bar and its team have gone on to gain respect and recognition both locally and internationally. Most recently, it was awarded the title of Overall Bar to Watch in 2020 in the November 2019 issue of The Spirits Business, chosen from a curation of notable establishments across Africa and the Middle East and even featured on the cover of the magazine itself, a first for a bar.

Brent Perremore is often known as the rabbit, and his time spent working in various Cape Town and London bars, and winning competitions, has given him a unique perspective and palate.

“As such, don’t expect the expected. Instagram was built for this, but we don’t let looks, humour and respect for history and tradition get in the way of disrupting your tastebuds and understanding of what a cocktail could be,” says Perremore.

The Cocktail Pilgrim, a respected member of many cocktail awards judging panels, rated Perremore’s “Niwatori Tea” cocktail as the best he’d ever had in his life. Perremore’s menu also includes “Mae’s Pearl Necklace”, made from 1800 Reposado Tequila, salted pineapple, yellow Chartreuse, coconut cream and bubbly, and named for Mae West. The signature “Coffee House Milk Punch” has a name that speaks for itself.  Each and every one of the cocktails on the menu at this bar are meticulously crafted by Perremore and his recognition as the Trailblazer of the Year is well deserved. “Getting to share this craft with patrons is a privilege,” adds Perremore. “Even more so when they’ve tasted some of the best cocktails the world has to offer. To know that all the effort is appreciated means a lot, and of course we’re excited to keep elevating our creativity.” 

As South Africa’s bars and borders reopen for business, The Art of Duplicity seems set to keep impressing those who seek it out from all corners of the world.

Live jazz is another speakeasy essential, making an obviously hard to find, intimate venue, even harder to get a booking for.

The Art of Duplicity is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6pm until late.

For reservations, visit 170120.co.za

Tables are reserved in three-hour time slots (standing room is available should guests wish to stay longer post COVID), and group seating is limited to ten guests per party.