If you understand a ‘dive bar’ to be the kind of place where there’s a slot machine in the corner, a guy ready to sell you a dodgy car and the faint aura that a fight might break out at a moment's notice - don’t worry, this is not that place. Smoking Kills is artfully grungy, intimate and inviting.
As in any good dive bar, the bartenders have plenty of time to chat and there’s a certain sense of camaraderie among the eclectic mix of Melville-ites and Joburg visitors crowding the tiny space. If you enjoy conversation with your drinks you’ll be happy to find a lack of TVs (aside from the oh-so retro vintage contraption next to the bar beaming grainy reruns of cartoons) and a good mix of indie music softly keeping a tempo up in the background.
Run by the same bartenders who launched Melville’s renowned African ingredient-centric cocktail bar Mootee next door, there's an astonishingly good selection of craft rums behind the counter (they count Ernest Hemingway as one of their all-time heroes). Then there’s also the marker pen graffiti tags scribbled on the tables, anarchist tags on the facebrick walls and that grizzly older guy in the corner moodily sinking tequilas on his own. Oh, and of course, the single most authentic dive bar ingredient, the smokers.
We’re not quite sure how this works, but you are actually allowed to smoke indoors (there aren’t tables outside anyway). If you don’t smoke, you probably won’t want to stick around too long and would be best served heading next door to Mootee’s lovely courtyard instead. And if you are a smoker you will likely savour the hours spent slowly sinking a packet at the bar while working your way through a beer or three.
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Open 17:00–02:00. Closed Mon, Tue.