With the number of gin dedicated bars, menus, and distilleries popping up all over Cape Town, it’s become clear that craft gin is the new craft beer. And, in the Mother City, there is no shortage of places to get your ginderella on, whether you’re after a gin tasting and tour at a city-based distillery, a gin-making class (because why not?), or an evening steeped in decadent gin cocktails. Here are some fabulous destinations you can head to to indulge your gin cravings!
Botany Cocktail Lounge
With a name like that, there simply has to be a succculent selection of botanical, locally-crafted gins on its menu. And there are! A part of the Copper Collection, which includes the Copper Club Eatery at the Tyger Waterfront and Patina Steak & Fine Wine Restaurant on Dean Street in Newlands, Botany Cocktail Lounge is the perfect go-to spot for indulgent after-work gin cocktails. On the menu, you’ll find 34 craft gins and a handsome selection of tapas to nibble on.
By the way: Speaking of tapas, gin lovers simply have to try the gin and fennel mussels with fresh Turkish loaf!
Where: Newlands Quarter, Corner of Dean and Main Street, Newlands
Cause Effect Cocktail Lounge
Cause Effect is to cocktails what fine dining is to food. Located on Park Street in the heart of Cape Town, this trendy establishment specialises in innovative mixology, the likes, flavours, colours, and aromas of which – it’s safe to say – you’ve never experienced before. A decent portion of their extensive cocktail list is dedicated to local craft gins, which are used to concoct both innovative new creations and old favourites, wholly reimagined and executed with remarkable skill, precision, and passion with a shot of the bartender’s personality thrown in.
By the way: A must-try for gin lovers is the “Nelly the Elephant” cocktail, a playful combination of Step 5 Gin, orange-husk marmalade, and pineapple juice served in a ceramic elephant and garnished with pink rosemary candy floss.
Where: 2A Park Rd, Gardens, Cape Town
Harringtons Cocktail Lounge
The super sultry and oh-so-sexy Harrington’s Cocktail Lounge serves up delicious cocktails – plenty of gin options and locally crafted gin labels – and food in a venue dressed in warm woods, plush sofas, botanical art, and trendy music. It’s an opulent yet laid-back lounge – really popular amongst locals, particularly for after-work cocktails – located smack bang in the centre of Cape Town on the up-and-coming Harrington Street.
Where: 61B Harrington St, Zonnebloem, Cape Town
Hope on Hopkins Distillery, Salt River
Ex-lawyers Lucy Beard and Leigh Lisk abandoned the rat race to chase a dream, which has culminated in the Hope on Hopkins Distillery. This small urban distillery, the very first in the Mother City, has been supplying gin lovers with much mirth and quality craft gin ever since. Together with esteemed South African craft distiller, Roger Jorgensen, they formulate Musgrave Gin from botanicals chosen by Musgrave Gin founder, Simone Musgrave. They also produce their own range of gins, the most recently released of which (in 2016) is Bloedlemoen Gin, named for its citrus notes taken from the blood orange.
By the way: Hope on Hopkins Distillery offers distillery tours by appointment (email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). Gin and vodka tastings are set to follow in the next few months.
Where: 7 Hopkins Street, Salt River, Cape Town
Inverroche Distillery, Stilbaai
Here’s a reason to trek 340 km east through road works, stop-and-goes, and some of the Cape’s most spectacular and dramatic mountainscapes: the best darn craft gin you’ll find this side of Cape Agulhas! In 2012, Inverroche Gin Distillery put down its roots a stone’s throw outside the town of Stilbaai and it has been offering locals and visitors alike an excellent reason to get pickled on quality craft gin ever since.
By the way: Visit for a gin tasting, learn how to make your own craft gin, and indulge in G&T ice-cream.
Where: R323, Still Bay East, Stilbaai
New Harbour Distillery, Macassar
New Harbour Distillery is an experimental micro distillery that crafts small batches of artisanal, nature-influenced gins. Using locally sourced fynbos botanicals, such as spekboom, the New Harbour Distillery produces delicious gins and even gives back by donating R100 of every private collection bottle purchased to the Flower Valley Conservation Trust.
By the way: Their “Gin Lab” in Woodstock offers three-hour classes on gin-making for only R750 per person.
Where: The Distillery is located at Firgrove Industrial Park Unit 4, 5 Firgrove way, Macassar
Pienaar and Son Distilling Company, CBD
Go for a tasting and a tour at Pienaar & Son, a small craft distillery in the centre of Cape Town, a stone’s throw from Parliament. Here, an appreciation for traditional craft distilling is greatly expanded upon by the father-and-son team’s love of innovation, which explains their nerdy engineering principles and collection of cutting edge equipment. They produce two sensational gins – Empire and Orient – that would be the envy of any gin lover’s liquor cabinet.
By the way: Tastings and tours at the distillery should be arranged beforehand.
Where: 1 Roeland Terrace, Cape Town City Centre
The Botanical Bar
Not to be confused with Botany Bar (Newlands), the Botanical Bar (Longmarket Street in town) is sister to The Gin Bar (Wale Street). Are you following? Here, there is a keen focus on foraged local ingredients and botanicals from the Cape Floral Kingdom, which they use to craft home-made bitters, liquers, and cocktails. They make a wicked assortment of delicious and refreshing drinks from lightly pickled fruit mixtures laced with gin and soda water.
Where: 160 Longmarket Street, Cape Town
The Gin Lab Experience at the Twelve Apostles
The Conservatory at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa offers a daily gin tasting experience (from 11am onwards) hosted by the hotel’s talented bar team. The experience consists of a flight of three local gins paired with three different tonic waters and a variety of botanicals and spices, which guests can use to concoct their own uniquely crafted blend. Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, you can sign up for a gin and canapé tasting experience specially designed by Chef Nicholas Goldschmidt, also available daily from 11am onwards, although 24 hours’ notice is required for bookings.
Where: The Conservatory, Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Victoria Street, Camps Bay
The (Secret) Gin Bar
Tucked away behind Honest Chocolate on Wale Street in Cape Town’s city centre, you’ll find a rather sexy, speakeasy style bar with a Mediterranean vibe and a staggering collection of 118 gins from all over the world, 52 of which are from local distilleries right here in South Africa. The Gin Bar – nicknamed the “Secret Gin Bar” by Capetonians for its tucked-away location – delivers a vast selection of gin cocktails and remedies for everyday maladies such as “impulse buying, arrogance, big car syndrome, and lust.”
Where: 64A Wale Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
The Stack, Gardens
Cliché or not, there’s simply no better way to describe The Stack other than to call it a “hidden gem”. The Stack is, all at once, a restaurant, bar, cocktail lounge, and member’s club but to those who frequent this flamboyantly designed establishment, it’s the best cocktail in Cape Town and a smiling barman who knows you by name. They offer a well-curated list of gins and their cocktails are as varied as they are innovative. Oh, and they go for half-price from 15:00 to 18:00, Mondays to Saturdays!
By the way: Try The Stack’s eponymous cocktail – a mix of gin-soaked rosemary and lavender topped up with tonic water and juniper berries.
Where: 7 Weltevreden Street, Gardens Cape Town
The Twankey Bar
The Twankey Bar is a sophisticated, yet edgy bar located in the Taj Hotel on the corner of Wale and Adderley Streets. Award-winning mixologist AJ Snetler is the proverbial captain of the ship and the genius behind their extensive and ever-changing list of decadent cocktails, many of which position gin as the star ingredient. If you want to appreciate cocktails as an art form, rather than just a way to get your buzz on, head over to Twankey Bar where the cocktails are mixed in a variety of curious ways, such as teapot brewing and wood-chip smoking.
Where: The Taj Hotel, 1 Wale Street, Cape Town
Website: View here.
Wilderer Estate and Distillery
Wilderer is not only South Africa’s first private distillery, but also the most awarded, with over 70 international medals and awards, including many Gold and Double Gold Medals. Wilderer has two tasting rooms where you can also sit down for a delicious meal. Ristorante Pappa Grappa (located just outside Paarl, on the R45 to Franschhoek) is one of the winelands’ best loved restaurants and here, you can taste and buy all Wilderer’s fine spirits. The tasting room at La Grapperia Pizza & Bistro is located at the celebrated Spice Route Wine Estate.
Where: Wilderer Distillery & Ristorante Pappa Grappa: R45, Simondium Paarl | Paarl Wilderer Distillery & La Grapperia Pizza & Bistro: Spice Route Wine Estate, Suid-Agter Paarl Road, Suider-Paarl
Woodstock Gin Company, Woodstock
Located adjacent to the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, the Woodstock Gin Co. strives to handcrafted premium gins of a calibre that would make even the Brits turn their heads. Their flagship gin, called Inception, is a unique, elegantly smooth and herbaceous gin with subtle undertones of their fynbos blend, which includes rooibos, buchu, and wild rosemary. The distillery is open Monday to Satuday for gin tastings, which can be enjoyed neat or mixed with Woodstock Gin Co.’s house-made tonics.