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Discerning Palate

Bar Keeper, a slick new liquor store with interiors by Hendre Bloem, opens in Bo-Kaap

By Lisa Wallace | July 5, 2017 | Category Design

‘Straight out of school I started working at my parent’s liquor distribution company,’ says Carla Fernandes, owner of Bar Keeper, Cape Town’s new and super slick liquor store. ‘When it was sold a few years ago I had to start going into liquor stores more often and I couldn’t help but feel like I was doing something illegal. I never felt welcome to browse around.’

Catalysed by this feeling of unfamiliarity, Carla sought to establish her own, more inviting, store front. ‘I fell in love with Van Ryn’s heritage site; neglected for years, I saw immediate potential.’ Mirroring this viewpoint, interior designer Hendre Bloem joined the project. ‘He took note of my vision and, with the help of Bates Building Contractors, brought Bar Keeper to life by mid-March 2017.

Besides trying to uplift the stigma of liquor stores, Bar Keeper stocks a large variety of liquor, wine and craft beers – and features a 16-seater table to host daily tastings. ‘It’s a space where we would like everyone to taste, share and experience different kinds of liquor. Although the interior design itself looks good, we also run great monthly specials to keep our patrons interested and educated,’ continues Carla.

The daily walk-in tastings are free of charge – used as an opportunity for brands to showcase their fine spirits and wines, informing patrons’ buying decisions. It’s not merely about quality products, but inciting knowledge too.

To reserve whisky tastings, or creating your own tasting experience email [email protected] or call +27 21 422 1024. For more information visit

Photography Ansjah Bloem

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