Financial Mail - - LIFE OUTBOX - Jesse Chinn

I stare at the car­nage on the ta­ble; there are eight cock­tails and a glass of wine strewn across it. There is gold dust and glit­ter in some of the glasses. Home­made ket­tle chips have made me thirsty for more of the sparkly bev­er­ages. It’s like the best big-night-out with friends. Only, it’s not. Rather it’s just your av­er­age mid­day meet­ing at Dou­glas + Hale, with gen­er­ous chef pro­pri­etor James Di­ack, Joburg’s sus­tain­able-food dar­ling.

Dou­glas + Hale has re­placed Di­ack’s The Na­tional in Park­town North. It’s still, like his other spots, Coobs and Il Con­tadino, all about good food — but equally, and es­pe­cially, about the booze.

It’s Jesse Chinn, a warm Johnny Depp looka­like, who has given Dou­glas + Hale its fresh start in the liquor depart­ment.

Chinn breathes wide-eyed ex­cite­ment into ev­ery glass he mixes — whether the cock­tail you or­der is off the ac­tual menu or off the

Sylvia Mcke­own con­ducts a ‘meet­ing’ at Joburg’s new wine bar

se­cret one in his head.

“I like to ask peo­ple what they want or how their day has been and make some­thing that suits them,” he says. Which is how a hy­brid mar­garita, made with Adi Baden­horst’s new 4th Rab­bit mez­cal, lands in front of me.

And the wines — they’re Di­ack’s real love. Beyond an al­ready in­ter­est­ing wine list is a cel­lar tucked into the cor­ner. It’s filled with vino ac­quired through beg­ging and ad­ven­ture. Nabbed by ha­rass­ing mak­ers on the phone or div­ing into their cel­lars in search of some­thing spe­cial. Once these wines sell out, they will never be re­plen­ished.

Also, and here’s a big bonus, this is se­ri­ous “wine by the glass” ter­ri­tory. Cur­rently there are 66 wines by the glass, from R33 to R900. With food that ranges sim­i­larly in price from R20 snacks to R250 fil­lets, there’s clearly some­thing for all oc­ca­sions — glit­ter, sadly, not guar­an­teed.

Katy Har­ri­son Pho­tog­ra­phy

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