So we all know I take gin very seriously. That is why the annual Gin & Tonic Festival is a day marked off on my social calendar that I would miss for nothing in this world. As soon as the New Year’s celebrations are done, I start fixating on this special gin-filled day. And let me tell you something – this year’s festival most surely didn’t disappoint!
Now in its 4th year and on its 8th event, The Original Gin & Tonic Festival is at the forefront of the diverse South African craft-gin scene. The festival offers an engaging and entertaining showcase of the country’s most popular, lesser known and spanking new gin brands, as well as a selection of premium internationals – creating a colourful platform for them to shine and showcase their handiwork to South Africa’s gin enthusiasts.
Filling out the offering is a bounty of delicious artisanal eats by Cape Town’s street food stars and a diverse lineup of musical acts across multiple stages, all in celebration of the purveyors, spirits and cocktails behind South Africa’s iconic gin culture.
I carefully handpicked and rounded up my most extra gin crew and we couldn’t have been more excited to start a lazy Sunday morning with a couple of G&T’s in hand, seeing that we now had a valid excuse to day drink! We arrived at the already bustling The Old Biscuit Mill just after 11.00 and joined the swiftly moving queue. It was a lovely cloudless, sunny day in the Mother City and you could literally already hear and feel the awesome hip-swinging vibes on the other side of the entrance.
We quickly picked up our bracelets, booklets and gin glasses and set off for a look-see before engaging our gin buds in an experience we will still fondly remember for years to come. Or at least, until the next fest!
We started with a round of the “The Greenhouse” which is a large open air gin extravaganza. It was jam-packed with brand-new exhibitors, both local and international, but there was also a comforting amount of everyone’s trusted favourites. The exhibits were bold and indulgent; deliciously decorated and garnished. The vast selection of cocktails on offer were mouth-wateringly innovative and enticing, and everyone was just there to have a good time. The Greenhouse was already packed with happy gin-aholics cheersing and clinking in the mid-morning sun.
We slowly moved along in the direction of the Crafter’s Hall whilst sweeping the food offerings with our (already) hungry eyes. We might or might not have made a few pit-stops between The Greenhouse and the Crafter’s Hall to wet our glasses…let the tasting beGIN!
The Crafter’s Hall was a beehive of activity for all the right reasons. The stalls were buzzing, people were laughing and chatting and stocking up on their favourites. Small tables of friends clustered around whilst clinking together their glasses with joy and the excitement in the air was pretty tangible.
Moving through to the Gin Courtyard, we had a nosey at the international gins and spent some time getting our photos taken in the ridiculously pink Beefeaters’ studio and printing personalised shopper bags, kindly sponsored by Stretton’s Gin. Just imaGIN; all your favourite big brands under one roof, and they’re all up for tasting! I somehow missed out (again!) on The Botanist, who had a very beautiful stand. I guess you can’t have ’em all.
By now we’ve had a couple of tastings and decided to make our way to the Schweppes lawn for a quick refuel and lunch. Being completely overwhelmed by the choice of artisinal food vendors, we chose a spread of goodies to everyone’s taste, which included chicken strips, parmesan chips, spring rolls, samoosas, and falafel bites. Yeah, no greens there. The greens were in our glasses as garnish! We sat in the sun, soaking up the tunes and the gin. In that exact moment, surrounded by my beautiful friends and an unlimited supply of gin, life was pretty tasty.
TLH’s top picks of the day
The first question everybody always asks me. What were your favourites? It’s a very difficult question to answer if you could only taste a few of the gins on offer, but I will single out a handful that made me particularly happy. In no particular order, of course –
(Okay, maybe this first one will always be my number one, so I might be a little biased! But the rest are in no particular order…)
- Sugarbird Juniper Unfiltered Gin – pure, raw, blue. Another stunning winner from Sugarbird.
- Caspyn West Coast Dry Gin – my new favourite infatuation, especially when paired with their range of Mutiny Bitters!
- Tragelaphus Gin – Wowee! These guys have something good going on! Absolutely delish.
- Muti Gin – Been meaning to try this one for ages – shot up straight into my Top 10! That branding, though…#LoveAtFirstSight
- Beefeater Gin – the Beefeater Pink and the 24 gins will always be two of my gin-trolley staples. I love them dearly!
As always, a brilliant day out. My gin tribe and I had an absolute blast, catching up on life and love, laughing and reminiscing about the good old days, playing pass-the-glass with our G&T’s so that we can all share in different experiences . We sat in the sun, ate to our heart’s content and people-watched whilst sipping ice cold gins with pretty garnishes. I love the idea that you can buy tasters, singles or doubles at reasonable prices without committing to a full bottle. I love that you have the option of different tonics and garnishes at each stall, so that every drink is as individual as you are. I simply love everything about the Gin & Tonic Festival.
So, if I’ve not managed to convince you just yet about going next year – all I can say is – your loss, buddy. Because I will be there, year after year, for my fix of feel-good vibes.
Second photographer and photo credit: Timothy P. Gibson
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my capacity as photographer/writer as part of a media outreach. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.