We don’t know about you, but we feel like gin is having a bit of a moment and we’re here to make sure that this trend keeps trending, because if there is one thing we love it’s parking off with a perfectly cool, gorgeously garnished, fabulously layered gin cocktail somewhere festive and fabulous. So, in no particular order, here are the Eatsplorer Top Ten Gin Experiences in Cape Town to keep you fuelled with the white spirit that is on everyone’s lips.

Disclaimer: It is best to read this just before knock-off time, because you are guaranteed to want to skive off for the rest of the day and go on a delightfully naughty, gin-inspired walkabout if you do it any earlier.

The (Secret) Gin Bar

Quite obviously, really – it’s right there in the name. Tucked in a gorgeous nook behind Honest Chocolate along Wale Street in Cape Town CBD, The Gin Bar currently has a repertoire of 118 gins from all over the world, including 52 that are right here from good old RS of A. The disguised entrance through the chocolate shop, past the gatekeeper and into a exposed brick courtyard smelling of rosemary and candle wax has earned this special spot it’s nickname of the ‘Secret Gin Bar’ from gin loving Capetonians.

Early in the evening you can expect a classic speak-easy vibe. After 10pm the space normally evolves into a mixed standing venue filled with the hustle of locals and tourists in the know alike. Ask the ‘apothecary’ for a faux-remedy for life’s ailment you will find just what you need whether it is to calm your soul… or sooth your heart, or stimulate your ambition. Kenan Tatt, general manager at The Gin Bar says there is something for everyone on their extensive drinks menu. “Our most popular cocktail is definitely a House Remedy Gin & Tonic called ‘Ambition’. It has a very unique remedy list that cures important things such as ‘impulse buying, arrogance, big car syndrome and lust’. Come see for yourself!”

Address: 64A Wale St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town

Opening Times: Monday – Thursday from 17:00 – 00:00. Fridays & Saturdays from 15:00 – 01:30 late. Upstairs Bar is open Thursday – Saturday from 17:00 – 00:00.

Sunset Cocktail Safari

Ozzy Yerlikaya is one of those blokes everyone in Cape Town seems to know. His backstory also sounds like the plot of a concocted by Wilbur Smith in collaboration with John Steinbeck – lots of epic adventures interspersed with life-changing realisations. Suffice it to say, before Ozzy made his way to South African shores he came of age in the seductive city of Istanbul, from where the travelled extensively with his family and worked around the world before he settled in Cape Town and now offers bespoke experiences that tap into the magic of the Mother City. His popular Sunset Cocktail Safari that can be exclusively booked on Eatsplorer takes you on an adventure to one of Cape Town’s best-loved lookout points, where your group will be treated to craft G&Ts and gourmet snacks served in the comfort of luxurious safari chairs with a plush Turkish carpet underfoot. Best of all – the location is kept a secret until the day of your safari, so there’s the tantalising suspense-surprise element as well.

When: Any day booking on request

Booking this experience: You can send a booking request here.

The Willaston Bar @ The Silo Hotel

The Willaston Bar at The Silo Hotel in the Waterfront district is the perfect option if you want to make a holy-hell-that’s-swanky impression on a first date or treat your partner to a date night on steroids. The bar is classy and elegant and has a relaxed and luxurious ambience. The pillowed windows make it ideal for sipping on a cocktail while watching one of the many beautiful sunsets Cape Town has to offer. At night there is a relaxed and sophisticated mood which is perfect for a night cap after dinner.

According to Juliet Urquhart, beverage manager for the Silo hotel, they have more than 30 gins available. “Of these, 25 are South African craft gins. We also stock a range of different tonics that highlight specific botanicals in the gins ranging from elderflower to Mediterranean, hibiscus, basil and sugar-free tonics.”

Address: The Silo Hotel, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town

Opening Times: Monday to Sunday, 11:00 – 23:00

Pienaar & Son Gin Experience

This inner-city Pienaar & Son gin and vodka distillery tour, tasting and cocktail-making experience just landed and we are super excited about it. Ex-rocker André Pienaar and his chemical engineer dad Schalk are crafting some seriously awesome artisanal spirits in the heart of Cape Town and now offer visitors the opportunity to get the inside scoop on the gin-making process with a tour of their distillery. Add a fun but informative cocktail course and you’ve got yourself an entertaining, yet educational, day out. Plus (super score!) you get to take a full-sized bottel of Pienaar & Son spirit home with you.

André believes gin has become so popular because it leaves plenty of room for creativity. “Premium spirits like whisky, cognac, etc. have been governed by such rules and traditions that it has left no room for creativity. Gin has changed that. It feeds off and relies on creativity and that makes it exciting and relatable because you can find the gin that speaks most to you and your personality.”

When: Every first Saturday of the month

Booking this experience: You can send a booking request here.

Botany Gin & Bubbles

Botany Gin & Bubbles is part of the Copper Collection, which includes Copper club and Patina. This sweet spot is tailormade for after-work drinks, girl’s nights out, business meetings and friendly hangs of all sorts. According to Hendrik Swart, operations manager for the group, they stock 34 craft gins and offer a great tapas selection. “Our beverages are complemented by a range of delicious tapas options, including trinchado, arancini, zucchini fritti, potato bravas, beef tagliata and more. If you come for the gin, you simply must try the gin & fennel mussels with fresh Turkish loaf.”

Address: Newlands Quarter, Dean Street, Newlands, Western Cape, South Africa

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 13:00 – 23:00, Friday and Saturday 13:00 – 00:00

Hope on Hopkins Artisanal Gin Tastings

If you really want to up your gin game and get a peak behind the curtain to see what goes into making these wonderful spirits an artisanal gin tasting at Hope on Hopkins Distillery has to be at the top of your list. Owner-distillers Lucy Beard and Leigh Lisk are incredibly passionate about their product and provide exceptional insight into the complexities of the craft.

“Our three flagship gins are designed to take a gin drinker through a gin journey: this is what we do in our tasting room, where each tasting starts with the classic London Dry (this is a simple gin which is juniper dominant, with nuances of citrus and rosemary), then on to the more contemporary Salt River gin, in which juniper is no longer dominant, but rather the fruity fynbos flavours of the buchu take over. Then we move on to the gin I’d always wanted to make, our Mediterranean Gin, which is the most experimental and unusual of our three. This is a far more complex and savoury gin with olives and herbs dominating with a savoury finish of cardamom and orange,” explains Lucy.

According to Lucy, the gin craze is not likely to go anywhere any time soon. “Gin is the most versatile of the spirits – it is amazing because of the different ways it’s made (you can macerate, vapour infuse, distil botanicals separately and blend and even cold compound), as well as the amazing range of botanicals available to use. No two gins are alike. People have started to realise this and are keen to try different gins. Suddenly they’re realising not all gin is juniper forward (like the more traditional gins) but instead other flavours often dominate, and so they’re keen to try and collect different variants.”

When: Any day booking on request

Booking this experience: You can send a booking request here.

Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen

If you like your drink with a side of theatrical mixologist shenanigans, you’d best make your way to the Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen in the heart of Gardens tout suite. You remember that kid in your school who used to take everything just a little too far with the trimmings on their bike – rocking up with cards in the spokes, bells, flashing dynamo lights, stickers and all sorts of accompanying what-the-f*ckery? This is the cocktail equivalent of that and it’s entertaining as all hell.

Award-winning mixologists Kurt Schlechter, Siavash Marshall and James Phillips have joined forces to blow everyone’s mind and they’re succeeding beyond our wildest expectations. Gin lovers, look out for ‘Nelly the Elephant’ – a playful combination of orange-husk marmalade, Step 5 Gin and pineapple juice served in a ceramic elephant garnished with pink rosemary candy floss. Jip, it’s that cool.

Address: 2A Park Rd, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 12:00 – 01:00; Saturday 20:00 – 01:30

Botanical Bar

The Botanical Bar is known for its incredible botanical-inspired cocktails and food. If you’re looking for a pretty spot where you can park off and have a fat chat with your girlfriends, Tinder date or long-time partner, this would be it. The cocktails are refreshingly original and there are plenty of options that have been created with our local craft gins as the hero. Ask the bartender to recommend an option that appeals to your palette by pointing out which flavours you enjoy (e.g. floral, citrus, herbaceous, etc.). Indigenous botanical ingredients are the star of the show here, so get ready to indulge in some of the finest flavour profile the epic Cape Floral Kingdom has to offer.

Add more about their journey to making tintures from botanical from around the country…..

Address: 160 Longmarket St, Cape Town

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 16:00 until late

The Gin Box

Last but not least, if you’re keen to continue your gin education from the comfort of your own home or patio, there is The Gin Box. This nifty setup works like a club, where some of SA’s finest craft gins are delivered to your door every month. The Gin Box team selects one small-batch craft gin per month, which are often not available on the shelves anywhere else and deliver it to their members along with a range of hand-picked accoutrement (gourmet treats, tonics, cocktail ideas and other goodies) that serve to complement the star attraction.

According to founder Jean Buckham, gin has rapidly emerged as the new star player of the drinks cabinet and bar scene. “Gin has long been enjoyed in South Africa and, for decades, we have been drinking many imported British gins, because, up until recently, we had never really ‘South Africanised’ it. In addition, it had always been drunk with a simple tonic, but it could be adapted and made more original by adding hints of flavour, garnishes like pomegranates or rosemary, through to even changing the colour of the gin. There’s no doubt that there’s more bravery and fun with gin drinking, because there’s more versatility with it.”

We couldn’t agree more. So, there you have it – ten exceptional gin encounters and destinations to enjoy in Cape Town, South Africa. Do you feel we missed a spot? Get in touch and share the love!

 

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Writing: Anna-Bet Stemmet | Photography: Micky Hoyle, Jan Ras, Megz Ate Here, Kleinjan Groenewald

 

 

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