275 Clarence St
Grandma’s bar is definitely a small bar in both character and size. With a capacity of only about 60, it’s a little bit smaller than your average small bar. On their website, they describe themselves as, ‘Retro-sexual haven of cosmopolitan kitsch and faded granny glamour’. Within 15 minutes of being there, I find this the best way to describe this place in one sentence. There is (of course) no signage, but just a small window at the base of the sidewalk under the guitar lounge sign. As I enter, a mounted deer head wearing a scarf and hat sits on the wall adjacent to me, as well as a mixture of tiki torches and toffee apples and it’s this assortment of oddities that personifies ‘Grandma’. The bar is filled with couples and small groups of friends, as 3 is definitely a crowd here. Said ‘Grandma’ sure digs jazz as well, clearly heard over the buzz of conversation.
The tropically themed menu covers a small range of beers consisting of James Boags and tiger, both served in brown paper bags – Grandma doesn’t seem to be a fan of beer. The only cider available is Monteiths, and as far as wines go, with about 6 reds and 6 whites there are no official labels, just source location and price. If you haven’t been talked into a cocktail by the bartenders as of yet, there are many to chose from with a whole 5 pages. Grandma’s is definitely a cocktail bar. There is a huge range of cocktails with a heavy emphasis of fruity, sweet and alcohol-laden concoctions, all with a Caribbean and equatorial feel to them.
Grandma definitely has a sweet tooth with the friendly bartender recommending the Fufi Juice containing gin, elderflower, lemon and grapefruit bitters ($16). It was deadly sweet and but ridiculously satisfying, scoffing it down in a matter of minutes like fruit juice, semi – oblivious to the fact that it was alcoholic. While I do enjoy delicious cocktails, this was much too sweet for my liking, moving onto a more conservative Negroni ($14). Another very popular Grandma’s specialty is the daily punch, a mixture of alcohol, juice and fruit served in a large glass ($14).
Grandma’s has a few small food options including chicken or spaghetti jaffles with spicy mayonnaise dipping sauce ($7.50), though perhaps a bit dear for a humble jaffle. Alternatively they have Biltong ($4.50) or curried cashews in a little teacup ($4). Usually when I go to my Grandma’s, she offers me goodies left, right and centre, however tonight this is not the case.
While the food menu is basic, and the drinks could use a few more bottled beverages, the quirky Grandma’s is by far the best place to go for intricate and fruity cocktails amongst the urban jungle. Just be sure to get there early before every square cm is occupied!
Go if: You love a good cocktail.
Stay at home if: you want a full dining experience alongside your drinks