Eighteen05, Africa’s very first Johnnie Walker whiskey bar, recently debuted at The Saxon Hotel Villas and Spa, Johannesburg’s iconic luxury hotel. The ultra-premium bar caters to serious (and deep-pocketed) whiskey aficionados, with a nearly all-whiskey menu and a small selection of half-bottle champagnes.
The name Eighteen05 pays homage to the birth year of Scottish founder John “Johnnie” Walker, and the 200 limited edition bottles that celebrated Johnnie Walker’s 200th Birthday in 2005 (this bar has a coveted few in its not-for-sale collection, each worth $25,000). The Saxon Hotel tapped Stephen Falcke to design the intimate bar, resulting in a sophisticated room with navy wallpaper with gold elements, dual-toned wood paneled flooring, and a dramatic assortment of wooden chandeliers.
As expected in a five-star hotel that has welcomed Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey, this whiskey bar doesn’t come cheap. Prices for a single serving of a non-Johnnie Walker brand start at R 130 ($10.50 USD), while a serving of Johnnie Walker’s flagship Blue Label reaches R 800 ($64). The Gentlemen’s Wager, the lone cocktail in Eighteen05 made from Johnnie Walker Blue Label, will set you back about $66 USD. If you love Blue Label whiskey enough to purchase a bottle, it’s yours for R 9180 ($737), and each bottle sold will feature a special engraved placard with the buyer’s name. Drinks come with a serving of still or sparkling water and a delicious assortment of canapés to whet your appetite, preferably to a meal at their relaxing, casual Terrace Restaurant.
Terrace offers well-priced fare in a sumptuous outdoor dining area, blessed with views of a lush tree-lined lawn and an impressive infinity pool. Their internationally-flavored menu includes barbecue beef filet skewers; grilled calamari salad with avocado, roasted cashews, and chiles; and grilled goat cheese with sticky stonefruit, spring onions, and breadsticks.
Does imbibing top-shelf whisky in Eighteen05 sound a bit too pricey for your budget? Here’s a tip: while in Eighteen05, you can ask for a regular cocktail from Saxon’s Terrace Bar and have it brought to you.