THAT’S THE SPIRIT!

Gin is in, and our gin safari stops are a whole new way to experience the spirit.  

Gone are the days when a typical G&T was your only option, other than sipping gin neat – this spirit is fantastically versatile and picking up popularity. Its botanical infusions (herbs, spices etc.) add complexity to cocktails, and pairings trigger a taste explosion. With the proliferation of cocktail culture across hip bars and flurry of festivals, gin is all the rage.

South Africa, while better known for its wine exports, is winning international awards for its spirits, including gin. Indigenous botanicals give our gins a distinctive flavour and tie bottling to producers’ unique terroirs. So what better way to give a taste of South Africa than by mixing two of our best offerings: gin and safaris?

As one of MORE lodges’ many safari experiences, our gin stops are truly special. An exciting day winds down with gin sundowners enjoyed in the company of friends, old and new, in spectacular locations – on the Sabie River banks, a mountainside in the Marakele, in the middle of the Madikwe bush…

Mixing your own gin cocktail becomes a creative and interactive affair, as you add your choice of syrups and fresh fruits to your preferred gin, while nibbling on food-pairing treats. For a bit of inspiration, Barman Frans, from Madikwe Safari Lodge, shares his signature safari gin cocktail mix:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Passion fruit
  • Lemon slices
  • Blueberries
  • Dragon fruit syrup
  • Inverroche Gin Classic
  • Tonic water

‘Local is lekker’, and we love our local distilleries’ gins, along with those of some great international brands. To create the ultimate gin sundowner experience at our lodges, we source only the best!

Inverroche is one of our country’s finest spirit brands, producing South Africa’s first handcrafted fynbos gin. The distillery is family-owned and operated, and its name – an amalgamation of the Gaelic word ‘inver’ (confluence of waters) and ‘roche’ (French for rock) – celebrates not only their Scottish and French Huguenot origins, but the environment that gives rise to the unique fynbos biome. Inverroche’s gins are a mingling of the traditional and the unusual, as master distillers extract fynbos, as well as juniper berry, oils for their infusions. The result is gins that taste of the Cape.

Hope on Hopkins is another of our favourite distilleries – the first one in Cape Town, in fact. It was founded by Lucy and Leigh who ditched their corporate lives, embarked on a year-long European adventure and having been inspired by the gin craze in Spain, decided to try their hands at gin making back home and ‘hoped it worked’ – hence the distillery’s name and crossed-finger logo (‘Hopkins’ is the distillery’s address). Unlike many distillers, they make some of their gins from scratch, and are one of few in the world to use barley as a base. Their infusion of carefully sourced ingredients, including fynbos from a farm in the Winterhoek Mountains, and passion into their gins have ensured they are sought after in South Africa and the rest of the world.

For those of our guests traveling to Cape Town who would like to experience the world of gin, MORE Private Travel will happily organise a personal distillery tour and tasting adventure for you.

A little history lesson:

Gin was first produced in Holland in the early 17th century, where it was used as a medicine and sold in chemists to treat stomach complaints, gout and gallstones. To make it more palatable, it was flavoured with juniper berry, with medicinal properties of its own. It made its way over to Britain with the country’s troops fighting in the Thirty Years’ War who took it for ‘Dutch Courage’.

We owe our trendy gin-food pairings to Frost Fairs during the bitter British winter of 1731. It was so cold that the River Thames froze over; enterprising locals took this as an opportunity to make a quick shilling and set up stalls along the banks selling hot gin and gingerbread. Business was good, and other entrepreneurs quickly set up stalls to take advantage of the crowds this toddy drew.

Words and photos by: Ingrid Nemorin

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