Cape Town Hot Spot: Outrage of Modesty

WORDS Malibongwe Tyilo

Over the festive season, the Cape Town City Bowl scored its first strictly cocktails only bar in the form of Outrage of Modesty (OoM).

The new bar on Shortmarket Street is owned by Alliance Brands, the people behind the successful House of Machines, and is headed up by Australian bartender Luke Whearty, who aside from owning a successful cocktail bar in Singapore, also brings over 15 years of mixing experience and passion to OoM. The intimate 22-seater venue, featuring leather covered oak wood chairs and tables, took some two months and six truckloads of junk to transform. We caught up with Alliance Brands’ Creative Director Brad Armitage to chat all things design and ambience.

What was the inspiration behind the interior design?

There is a subtle, minimalist Japanese influence, with the essential elements of a ‘typical cocktail bar’ on display, while at the same time being highly utilitarian and functional. We wanted the environment to still retain some warmth and a sense of home, so we married the look with a mid-century/Scandi feel, through the use of wood and leather. Remembering that it is after all a speakeasy, we also needed a few elements of surprise, which I feel we managed to attain.

What kind of ambience were you trying to achieve?

Think dive bar in Tokyo’s Kabukichō district meets sixties Danish lodge, with great cocktails. Apart from being confused, you’d be in for a surprise either way. The entire focus of OoM is the unique engagement with the cocktails and the makers. If you look at how we have tiered the seating, you will notice that every seat has the perfect view down to the bar and the bartenders, encouraging patrons to be a part of the operational aspects of the experience. We really wanted to create a theatre of cocktails, yet be sure not to overcomplicate the process and retain an element of joy and entertainment that you should get on a special night out.

Who designed the interiors?

OoM was designed in-house as a proudly Alliance Brands venture. Alliance Brands has the benefit of being a global company, and our partners come from a variety of different industries in three locations, so OoM was an opportunity for us to pool our thinking to develop an experience that was reflective of our travels and connections. Our team also consists of a few seasoned bartenders, and as such, we have designed what is arguably one of the finest functioning bars in the world. For the technical aspects, we drew on the assistance of architect Briggs Butler and the project team of Lloyd Stocks and James Louw.

What was the building used for before?

This building has serious heritage. Old insurance maps we found have it as a grain store house, and since opening we have met a plethora of Capetonians that have explained to us how they used to party in the building – from a reggae club in the ’80s (The Boiler Room) and a techno club to dinner theatre (On Broadway) and its most recent incarnation as a house of ill repute and den of iniquity. But we gutted and cleaned it, giving it a fresh start. Big news for us is that we will be hosting Luke, Wes and the team from Pot Luck Club in the venue as from the end of April.

Outrage of Modesty is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 6pm till late. It is a strictly reservations only affair. You’ll find it at 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town. Contact 021 422 2909 for bookings.