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Mount Nelson’s Planet Bar
Grandiose Cape Town Hotel boasts with a noble Champagne and Cocktail Bar
The Mount Nelson has a strong reputation in Cape Town. It’s a place where the rich and famous get together; or the so-called wannabees. The Mount Nelson Hotel is Cape Town’s most famous hotel and has it’s charm and magic. With being older than a century, it is a Grande Madame. Let’s get to know her a little – with a drink or two at the Nellie’s upmarket Planet Bar.
I open the menu at the Planet Bar and read "According to Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagnes & Sparkling wines by Tom Stevenson, there are 250 million bubbles in an average bottle of Champagne." 250 million, a number that is out of reach, though a good intro. Planets are also out of reach, not the Planet Bar though, it only wants to be out of this world. Plus, I read that the original Champagne coupe (or saucer-shaped glass) was fashioned by a porcelain maker in Sevres, France, from a mould made off Marie Antoinette’s breast. She would love this place.
It’s not as spacy as it’s name, it’s more classic with leftovers of colonial elegance with a little bit of a planet theme. It’s not about astrology, but here you can reach the stars. Float in other spheres while having a cocktail (or two) and watching the solar system-model hanging down the ceiling. Some say it has a feel of sexy luxury and timeless elegance. I immediately fall in love with the bar chairs as well as the pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn on the walls. Mirrors, black-and-white tiled floors, golden curtains, stucco, couches and elegant upholstered seats, the Planet Bar is sexy indeed. It is exclusive though approachable. It is in the centre of a cosmopolitan city, it reflects it’s urban chic and is purely a fashion statement. A little bit of vintage, a little bit of contemporary.
Yes, the Planet Bar is a place for Capetonian richies and wealthy tourists, but it’s comfortable. Here, you can, when you’re lucky, spot celebrities or just feel like one of them.
"I get no kick from champagne. Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all, So tell me why it should be true, that I get a kick out of you?"
That’s what Cole Porter, an American composer and songwriter sang, known for his clever rhymes. So, it can’t just be the massive champagne selection Planet Bar, Cape Town’s first champagne bar, offers, but the whole thing.
First of all: What a selection. A variety of French Champagnes (R750-R7995 a bottle), Sparkling Wines (R150–R740 a bottle), an international selection of Red and White Wines, Rosé Wines from our so loved winelands (R105-R330), also by the glass .... and cocktails! "The long and the short, the classics, some with a twist and several special creations dreamt up by the Planet mixologist to get your mojo risin". Cocktails are priced between R40 and R100, with an average of R45 pretty affordable. There are also non alcoholic cocktails (R35), soft drinks, beers and ciders, aperitifs and spirits, coffees, hot chocolates and cigars on offer.
I’ll go for the Planet Passion (R45), Planet Bar’s signature mix of Stolichnaya raspberry vodka combined with fresh passion fruit purée, charged with Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Brut and crowned with Chambord black raspberry liqueur. It looks simple, but yes, it’s worth a try. My second cocktail is the Peppered Pineapple Mojito (R45), a cocktail the Planet Bar is known for: "Just when you thought the Mojito couldn’t get any more tantalising! Fresh lime muddled with pineapple syrup and shaken hard with Havana Club Anejo Especial, fresh mint, pineapple juice and cracked black pepper; strained over crushed ice and served with a dark rum float." One cocktail I have at the eye-catching bar with all these bottles in front of a mirror – number two in one of those cosy couches with chandeliers over me. Something I have to mention: the snacks on the side are divine: honey coated cashew nuts with raisins plus biltong tea straws (biltong on thin pastry). The bar also offers a light menu including oysters and canapés.
Inside planets, outside African sky
On hot summer days, the bar will be a nicely cooled down place, but sitting on the terrace, overlooking the perfectly manicured garden of the Mount Nelson Hotel is the better choice: here you can watch the real and overwhelming African sky and slurp on your cocktail. When it gets chilly, for winter and the real bar feeling, sit inside, have a chat with the well trained bartenders and sit next to the fireplace, enjoying a classy atmosphere.
Enjoy the elegance, the style and the vibe and move on to the Planet Bar’s brother, the Planet Restaurant, to keep on gazing...
by Antonia Heil
Read more about the Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel. Or visit the Librisa Spa.
Try whiskey from around the world Taj Cape Town’s Whiskey Lounge.