Aficionado Pop-Up Bar

The Aficionado Bar situated at the Sandton Eye (aka the Radisson Blu Hotel) is the latest in pop-up offerings. Introducing Ron Zacapa, a premium rum produced in Guatemala was the main inspiration behind the bar.


Ron Zacapa scores a 95 point rating (out of 100) from the Beverage Tasting Institute proving it to be exceptional. What makes the rum special is that it is stored 2300m above sea level in Guatemala. The high altitude slows the aging process allowing more time for the flavours, body and colour of the rum to develop. Zacapa 23 is a blend of rum aged in a barrel between 6 and 23 years.


The area near the entrance houses space for the DJ, a dance floor/standing area, a lone table and a couch. Whilst I’m not sure what Guatemalan decor looks like (Google you have failed me!), I would say a good job was done transforming the space. The mix of various leather and fabric couches, use of wood and wooden barrels, the lighting and plants did form an image of an exclusive Guatemalan bar in my mind. I didn’t automatically think it represented Guatemala but it definitely clicked and made sense once I read that it was the idea behind the decor.


The upstairs section hosted the smokers which I didn’t check out as I absolutely hate cigarette smoke. The best thing about this separate area is that non-smokers don’t have to end of the evening reeking of disgusting cigarette smoke. The menu boasts more than a few innovative drinks which are presented with flourish, theatrics and props. Try an unusual drink if you do go, leave the boring beers for another place. You can check out a few of the drinks I tasted in my next post on the pop up restaurant “The Dining Room”. This is the restaurant that is currently running in conjunction with the bar.


I loved the portraits depicting pictures or quotes relating to Guatemala or Ron Zacapa rum. The multi wood paneled wall provided a complementary decor contrast. This section was home to a few bar tables and stools. Whilst the space looked a bit too empty from a decor perspective, the space was needed from a practical perspective as it is near one of the bars.


Most people would probably find this picture weird but I have an obsession with silhouetted images lately. I love that you have a little peek of the purple lighting, rum barrels, couches and the exposed brick wall with frames in the background. I had to stand pretty close to the plant to get this shot, pretty sure the bouncer thought I was such a weirdo!


I liked the music, but this is of course dependent on who the DJ playing on the night is. The crowd was quite young – less chance of dodge old men hitting on you here! I am not really the bar/clubbing person but my friend
who was there the same night as I was, left because the place was too packed and busy and went somewhere else.

The bar is open Wed to Sat and is running until the 28 November. Dress more smart than casual and no under 23’s allowed. Do expect to pay exorbitant parking fees (we paid R35 for 4 hours – well I thought it was expensive). And definitely do make a reservation online beforehand to avoid the R50 entrance fee, a waiting list and a queue.

Hop: Sandton Eye, Cnr Rivonia & West Street, Sandton

Guatemala & Rum,


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