A new summer pop-up haunt proves that nothing beats word-of-mouth. The aptly named Gin Dock, situated at the dock of the bay, has taken up residency at the Scheryn Pavilion, the space that previously held the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa pop-up gallery.
The Gin Dock, located on the edge of the bridge that crosses over to the Cape Grace Hotel, enjoys spectacular views of the marina, the Grain Silo, the iconic clock tower, and Table Mountain, making it an obvious stop for all tourists visiting the Mother City. Thankfully, it is less obvious reasons that launched The Gin Dock into the pantheon of noteworthy summer pop-ups. The fact that the bar is a three-way (Geometric Gin, Hope on Hopkins, and A Mari) collaboration between three distinctly different but equally remarkable gins is one of them. Secondly, there is the fact that the bar not only offers one-on-one tastings of the gins, but also that patrons can do this with the actual makers of the craft spirit. Lastly, one of the major catalysts for such a speedy adoption of the concept is the bar’s manager — celebrated mixologist and international drinks consultant Raphael Cristini. Cristini was head-hunted from abroad, where he was on a drinks consulting contract in France and the United Arab Emirates; he returned home to develop the menu and run the pop-up for three months.
The fame of this must-visit summer spot has spread far and wide turning The Gin Dock into an unexpected celebrity hangout, and attracting industry heavyweights such as Peter Liem, US wine critic and a senior correspondent for Wine & Spirits magazine, who described it on his Instagram as “a sleek and sophisticated pop-up gin bar in a spectacular location”.
Instagram account @CapeTownBest referred to the bar as the Cheers of the summer: “In just three months The Gin Dock has become the bar where everybody knows your name, and your choice of tipple that will be sorely missed come month end.”
The concise menu offers classic G&Ts from the three local distilling houses behind the pop-up, served classic or with whimsical refreshing twists, as well as a selection of revived classic gin cocktails, such as martinis and negronis. The Geometric Gin with Symmetry Floral tonic, star anise and a wild foraged sour fig, or A Mari Atlantic Ocean Gin with Symmetry Floral tonic, Madagascar peppercorns and grapefruit, are tied for the most popular and photogenic G&T creations. But my personal recommendation is to end your visit to The Gin Dock with Cristini’s Negroni. The drink requires a mixologist to possess the fine art of balancing three spirits; this has eluded seasoned bartenders for 99 years, but here it has been perfected. The master mixologist was kind enough to share his negroni recipe for those who aren’t fortunate enough to visit the bar before.