G&T, Any­one?

A Spirit Reawak­ened

Indwe - - Contents - Text: Scott Dun­lop Im­ages © Sup­plied & iStockphoto.com

It’s the in­spi­ra­tion of many a fa­mous au­thor, film maker, and song­writer. It’s the tip­ple of choice of the rich and fa­mous, and those who’d quite like to be: gin.

Win­ston Churchill fa­mously said: “The gin and tonic has saved more English­men’s lives, and minds, than all the doc­tors in the Em­pire.” How­ever, gin and tonic wasn’t al­ways the posh bev­er­age for a day at the polo, or to be sipped at the yacht club on a hot sum­mer’s day.


There was an oc­cur­rence in English his­tory that’s now only whis­pered about: The Gin Craze.

What started out as a medicine in mid-18th cen­tury Lon­don be­came known as “Mother’s Ruin” be­cause it was cheap and read­ily avail­able. Writer and his­to­rian Pa­trick Dil­lon noted that “not even ma­ter­nal in­stinct has sur­vived the rav­ages of gin”.

It was pro­duced on a mas­sive scale, mak­ing it the cho­sen drink – al­though it was con­sid­ered to be more of a drug at the time – for the poor and work­ing class. Un­til this point, beer had been the most pop­u­lar al­co­holic drink in the coun­try, but it was sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­pen­sive and also much weaker.

To curb the ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion of gin, the govern­ment raised a tax on the al­co­hol and gin sales moved pre­dom­i­nantly to the un­der­ground black mar­ket. But it wasn’t un­til 1757 when dis­til­la­tion was banned due to a grain short­age that the craze sub­sided.

For years af­ter this, gin lurked in the shad­ows as rum, vodka and whisky gained pop­u­lar­ity.

Now, fast-for­ward al­most 300 years, and the aro­matic spirit is go­ing through a global re­nais­sance.

A RE­MARK­ABLE RESUR­GENCE South Africa has also well and truly em­braced the trend, with more than 50 in­de­pen­dent gin dis­tillers in the coun­try pro­duc­ing more than 75 lo­cal gin brands.

Ac­cord­ing to Avuk­ile Mabombo, Group Mar­ket­ing Man­ager for Protea Ho­tels by Mar­riott, gin sales are con­sis­tently grow­ing at al­most 15 % world­wide year on year, with tonic fol­low­ing suit with a 12 % growth – more than any other mixer. “We’ve seen not only an in­creased de­mand for the clas­sic G&T, but for many other gin-in­spired cock­tails, es­pe­cially at our Fire & Ice! ho­tels. To me, this is an in­di­ca­tion that the younger gen­er­a­tion is def­i­nitely on the gin train,” he says.

Lo­cal brands like In­ver­roche, Jor­gensens, Dur­ban Dry, Gi­nol­o­gist, Hope on Hop­kins, Wood­stock Gin Co, Musgrave, and Wilderer can be found on the shelves of bot­tle stores and bars across the coun­try, join­ing in­ter­na­tional heavy­weights like Hen­dricks, Beefeater, Bom­bay Sap­phire, and Tan­queray.

New on the lo­cal scene, Khayelit­shabased cou­ple Lu­voyo and No­dumo Jongile re­cently launched their craft gin brand, Mayine Premium Gin – the “first black owned gin pro­duced in Africa”. Their in­tro­duc­tory prod­ucts, Rooi­bos In­fused Mayine Gin and Grape Mayine Gin, are fast gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity, and the cou­ple al­ready has plans to add more flavours in the near fu­ture.


While you can get a G&T pretty much any­where, ded­i­cated gin menus can be found in pop­u­lar hot spots across ma­jor South African cities. So when it’s Gin o’ Clock (which it al­ways is some­where, at least), where can you go?

So­cial on Main and Work­shop 55 in Jo­han­nes­burg, and Car­bon Bistro in Pre­to­ria, are see­ing peo­ple ar­riv­ing in their droves to sample vari­a­tions of the drink. Protea Fire & Ice! ho­tels in Cape Town, Pre­to­ria, and Jo­han­nes­burg have long sup­ported lo­cal gin brands on their menus. But to take things to the next level this sum­mer, they’ve launched a new “Over the Top Gin & Tonic” (OTT G&T) menu for gin lovers to en­joy. In Umh­langa, Europa is serv­ing up a de­lec­ta­ble cherry and mint op­tion, as well as a wa­ter­melon and basil one.

The gen­eral trend is to be ad­ven­tur­ous when us­ing gin as a cock­tail base, with pair­ings of ap­ples and cin­na­mon, blue­ber­ries and thyme, black pep­per and rose­mary, or jalapeno and lime.

“Global trends in­spire in­no­va­tion. It’s not enough to sim­ply serve a clas­sic G&T any­more. It’s all about cre­ative com­bi­na­tions. We need to cater to the lat­est in­ter­na­tional trends for our guests, but we al­ways like to put our own spin on things to make things re­ally in­ter­est­ing for them,” Mabombo says.

And if you’re plan­ning on in­dulging in a few G&T cock­tails, the good news is that clear spir­its are known to have fewer han­gover ef­fects. How­ever, tra­di­tional gin’s key in­gre­di­ent – ju­niper ber­ries – are a di­uretic, so make sure to drink lots of wa­ter if you want to avoid a headache the next day. Cheers!

Gin sales are con­sis­tently grow­ing at al­most 15 % world­wide year on year, with tonic fol­low­ing suit with a 12 % growth – more than any other mixer.

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