Cape Town Gin & Tonic Festival

by Jared

I’ll admit that sometimes I’m a little slow with picking up the latest food and drink trends, but I seem to have very far behind with the recent G & T fad that seems to have taken SA by storm. If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have told you that this cocktail was something that middle aged woman sipped on in England wishing for warmer weather – surely I’m not alone in this? My (mis)education aside, I have to admit also that over the past months I’ve become something of a fan – particularly thanks to friends who have come along to recent weekends away sporting their stylish gin bottles.Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

With my introduction to G&Ts being so recent, any casual conversation on the topic leaves me a bit stunted as the only name dropping I can do includes Inverroche and… well that’s about it! When I heard about the Cape Town’s second ever G & T festival I was quick to diarise it and made sure I was there, knowing it would be the perfect opportunity to further my gin education.

The festival was hosted this year at the trendy Old Biscuit Mill, and it was refreshing to have a change of scene from the venue’s usual breakfast offerings and masses of good looking and well-dressed foreigners (and local hipsters alike). A friend and I made sure we were there for the 11am start of the event, and I was assured by someone on Instagram that it was 4pm somewhere in the world, and therefore had licence to drink at that early time.
As you enter the event you’re given a festival-branded glass, and a little booklet introducing you to the 18 different gin suppliers at the event. I was delighted to expand my knowledge of the different options, and we quickly headed off to start tasting. Some of my tasting highlights were:

  • The quirky story behind The Generals Gin, and Sebastian’s excitement at sharing his product with us
  • The folk at Distillery 031 in Durbs created SA’s first barrel aged gin, and definitely worth it for the extra wooded notes
  • Joburg based Time Anchor Distillery’s Gincello was a delicious alternative to the usual lemon option
  • Both the Eastern Spice & Citrus and Fresh Citrus & cucumber variants from Pienaar & Son make this city bowl based distillery an absolute winner

Two live music venues kept our feet tapping in-between tastings, and if you could get a space at one of the seated areas, you could take a chance to sit back and watch the stream of happy-faced festival goers amble by.
The morning is unfortunately a rather Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetexpensive affair – the combination of the entrance ticket, paying for each taster, buying some food to keep the light-headedness (slightly) at bay, and the Uber there and back will set you back around 400 bucks and that’s without even taking home one of the stylish bottles. Perhaps some tastings could be included in the entrance in the future. There were also masses of people, so if you’re planning to go next year, make sure you go as early as possible, and if you see someone in the corner with a broad grin, rather boldly sprouting name after name of various gin merchants, do come over and say hello to me!

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south african travel journalist