Gåte's spectacular TWG tea pairing.
Gåte's spectacular TWG tea pairing.
Image: Supplied

A part of the fine-dining experience is often the drinks pairing — usually wine, although the odd gin and tonic, cocktail and even beer have been known to feature. However, with alcohol off the cards, restaurants have had to adapt and offer nonalcoholic pairings. An offering that was often relegated to the sidelines has now had to become the main attraction — and these three eateries have pulled out all the stops to create their own unique and exciting liquor-free libations.

1. Salsify at The Roundhouse

The ever-innovative team led by chef Ryan Cole have focused their efforts on a wellness pairing — a clever move considering we’re all trying to stay as healthy as possible. The new offering matches Coles’s exemplary cuisine with a selection of fresh, invigorating nonalcoholic drinks comprising a selection of infusions, teas and alcohol-free cocktails.

Salsify's alcohol-free cocktails.
Salsify's alcohol-free cocktails.
Image: Andy Lund

Upon arrival guests can enjoy a nonalcoholic G&T with the amuse bouche, before moving onto the delicate dish of steamed crayfish which is complimented by a cold fennel-infused tea. Pushing the boundaries even further, a cucumber-flavoured CBD drink — a growing trend in the alternative health space — is paired with the pine-smoked trout; while dessert calls for chocolate and mint infusions. “The drinks menu not only complements the food in flavour and texture” says Cole, “but also means you leave feeling far more nourished through the healthy ingredients they are made from.”

2. La Colombe

The multi-award-winning Constantia restaurant has completely reimagined their nonalcoholic pairing with a strong focus on replicating flavours and textures that guests expect from their usual pairings. Chef James Gaag and his team have come up with some incredibly clever alcohol-free cocktails and concoctions — very much in line with La Colombe’s theatricality and showmanship.

There’s the beetroot infusion (which mimics the weighty palate and texture of red wine) which accompanies their smoked Karoo lamb course (even served in a red wine glass), while a lime leaf “Chenin” offers a fresh and zingy counterpart to their line fish. Other interesting inclusions are the spiced lassi served alongside their aged duck, prawn and coconut course and the kitchen cocktail served with their signature Tuna La Colombe. A refreshing and playful take on the nonalcoholic pairing menu, that aligns wonderfully with La Colombe’s whimsical charm.

3. Gåte

This fine-dining eatery situated on the magnificent Quoin Rock wine estate has chosen tea as the base for their liquor-free libations.

Gåte's Houjicha tea is paired with their wagyu tartare.
Gåte's Houjicha tea is paired with their wagyu tartare.
Image: Supplied

The restaurant (which reopened in 2020 with a produce driven, Southern African culinary concept by chef Jack Coetzee) has been quick to adapt — offering up a spectacular TWG tea pairing that draws from all corners of the world, and is certainly an impressive addition to their experience.

A selection of black, green, red and even blue teas is paired with their tasting menu. Expect the likes of the Japanese green tea — Houjicha — paired with their Wagyu tartare, while their popular “tomato, tomato, tomato” is paired with Red Tea of Africa — a tea created with a blend of sweet spices — which perfectly complements the dishes earthy pine nut and porcini crumb. An interesting and intriguing addition, the tea pairing is not only a worthy substitute for the wine pairing but also a fascinating exercise in its own right.

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