Although gin has long been seen as “vodka for grownups” – or an occasional grandmother’s tipple – it’s finally gaining the respect it deserves.
The other night I found myself at Trenchtown, of all places, (please, no judgement), and in front of me sat three guys. Let’s say they were about 22 years old. When the waiter asked for their drink orders, two out of the three opted for a gin and tonic.
Honestly, I was a little shocked; when I was that age it was beer and brandy all day. But then I gave it some thought, and realised that they are living in a totally different world.
While the history of the juniper-based spirit dates back centuries, in recent years gin has exploded onto the scene. Everyone and their boyfriend tends to drink it these days – and in their own way too.
One set of friends have adopted grapefruit as their go-to garnish, whilst others bring along blueberries and rosemary to add some flair.
I just fill my glass with Fitch & Leedes’ Pink Tonic and I’m done.
Gin is so popular, in fact, that after a few many tend to ask, “Why? Why has gin erupted in a city that offers so many other options when it comes to booze?”
So we went to investigate, and found a few answers that make sense.
The first has to do with the range of cocktails available at gin speciality bars. Cape Town’s City Bowl has two bustling locations that have long been dedicated to the cause, namely Mothers Ruin and The Gin Bar.
You know, them, right? They can easily be credited with showing customers just how versatile gin is, and that if lemon and tonic don’t do anything for you, there is always something out there that will tantalise your taste buds.
More on this notion from The Spirit Embassy:
[L]ike most trends in the drinks industry, bartender innovation has a lot to do with the resurgence in gin. The cocktail culture saw bartenders go back to the classic books and these books are full of recipes that call for gin.
We might have taken a dig at gin’s snob-like evolution a bit last month, but with gin being the most versatile spirit to mix with, it’s no wonder bartenders love it.
Then, following the craft beer era, there has been an eruption of boutique gin distilleries. Cape Town Gin & Spirits Co is one that has played a huge role in pushing gin as a drink of choice, and their The Pink Lady is still sitting at the top of Takealot’s Bestselling Alcohol list.
Another reason why Cape Town specifically has seen the gin market take off is our very own fynbos.
Yes, yes, you might have heard time and time again that the region plays host to the smallest and most diverse of the world’s six floral kingdoms, but what it has to offer has given distilleries the chance to use the wild ingredients to their advantage, infusing incredible flavours, like Rooibos, into the mix:
[I]t’s very appealing in how the distillers use botanicals to curate such great flavour. The way in which flavours reveal themselves within gin. Every gin revealing different notes of locally sourced seeds, plants, pines or whether its fruit, spices or roots from across the world. Gin now creates an atmosphere in which it enlightens all your senses and i think it’s that what people crave.
This is why gin is an on-trend drink.
Again, Cape Town Gin & Spirits Co has done their bit, and their Rooibos Red is a delightful addition to the alcohol cabinet.
If you find yourself in the CBD one day, do yourself a favour and pop into the Cape Town Gin Hidden Door Tasting Room at Heritage Square on Shortmarket Street.
Another addition to the Cape Town gin scene, you can learn about The Pink Lady, Rooibos Red and Classic Dry, as well as taste each one if you need further proof at how delightful they are.
Have any other theories as to why gin is so popular?
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