Roman Slepica has seen two regime changes in his life and, during both, he's opened bars.
His first, a North American-style cocktail bar in Prague, which was also the first of its kind in Eastern Europe, came into existence just after the fall of the Berlin wall. Five years later, after the collapse of apartheid, he moved back to South Africa to open Ratz and Buzz 9 in Melville.
Fast-forward two decades (and factor in a five-year stint running a café and nightclub in San Francisco) and he's now put down roots in the Maboneng Precinct with his latest project, Lenin's Vodka Bar.
As you might've guessed, Lenin's has a communist theme. Just look at the bar's logo, a crossed sickle and martini glass, which was designed by Roman himself, and the bar's mural of Vladimir Lenin, which was painted by South African Artist Yiull Damaso
Roman feels it's important to work at the bar he owns. "As a barman set-up is important," he explains between mixing cocktails. "Once a week I like to get back here and make sure everything is sorted."
Lenin's boasts a selection of 42 different kinds of vodka, many of which are imported from Poland and Russia. "Good vodka doesn't freeze at below zero temperatures," explains Roman. "But rather congeals to a thick syrup-like state. We keep ours at -18 degrees."
All selected vodka is kept in a mammoth 150 litre freezer behind the bar - the only one of its kind in Johannesburg.
There is also a vast selection of cocktails on offer; from classic American and Russian cocktails, alcoholic milkshakes, martinis, and even a custom section called 'The Wild Bunch'. They're affordable too, with only the liver-mincing 'Chernobyl' breaking past the R40 mark.
When? Wednesday - Saturday: 16:30 - late. Sundays: 11:30 - 20:30
Happy Hour: 17:00 to 19:00
Where? 300 Commissioner Street, Maboneng, Johannesburg
by Billy Rivers