A classic Gin and Tonic.
A classic Gin and Tonic.
Image: Supplied

What could be more thirst quenching on a hot summer’s day than a perfectly made gin and tonic? Introduced by the army of the British East India Company in India in the early 19th century, this humble cocktail was a means to get officers to imbibe quinine (the bitter element in tonic water) and thereby help to stave off malaria. Since those early days, the good old G&T has grown in popularity to become a quintessential part of summer. And never more so than in recent summers, as a wave of artisinal gins crests the world over.

Here in South Africa, the craft gin market continues to grow in number and depth as distillers perfect their craft and get more well-deserved global recognition. It is the only spirit created by infusing natural botanicals into a neutral base and our abundant diversity of plant life has led to an almost alchemical rapture. From rooibos and honeybush to buchu and kapokbos, there’s an artisinal gin to suit every palate and mood.

Inverroche: Nestled in the sleepy Cape seaside town of Stilbaai, their spirits are heated the old-fashioned way – over a wood fire, with invasive alien vegetation used as the fuel source.

The Woodstock Gin Company in Cape Town continues to forge new paths, with a range of craft gins distilled from different bases.

Hope on Hopkins, in the city’s Salt River district, has crafted a traditional London dry-style gin, as well as a version with South African notes of buchu, wild rosemary and citrus from the Cederberg.

Wine estate Blaauwklippen’s Triple 3 opts for a natural, organic approach that is gaining attention far and wide.

Time Anchor (hailing from Joburg’s funky Maboneng precinct) picks only one kind of honeybush varietal to complement the rose geranium and honey in their gin.

But if craft gin has one rival for the top spot at the bar this summer, it’s undoubtedly bubbly…

Steenberg Lady R 2012 MCC.
Steenberg Lady R 2012 MCC.
Image: Supplied

A veritable celebration in every sip, Methode Cap Classique (MCC) is South Africa’s version of champagne. Using the same method, this bubbly is made by creating a second fermentation in the bottle. The result? A sparkling wine that’s every bit as splendid as its French cousin but at a fraction of the price.

As the fastest growing wine category in the country, doubling its production every five years, it’s not just South Africans who are reaping the benefits of our outstanding MCC, with just under a third of our bottles popped outside of the country each year.

A wonderfully versatile companion to a range of dishes, from breakfast to after-dinner desserts, MCC is best served ice cold and in the proper glassware to maximise its features and finer points.

And if you’re looking to start the season in style, why not enjoy both of summer’s favourite sips at one sizzling-hot event?

The Wade Bales Cap Classique and Gin Affair takes place at the Grand Africa Café & Beach in Granger Bay on Saturday October 27 from 1pm to 5pm and Sunday 28 from 1pm to 5pm. With over 70 of South Africa’s premium MCCs awaiting you, as well as 40 craft and international gins to taste, producers will be present to share their knowledge and unique insight into what makes their particular tipple irresistible.

Tickets are available via QUICKET at R350 per person, with limited Early Bird Tickets at R250 per person (until sold out). This includes a complimentary champagne glass, unlimited access to all MCC and gin products featured on the day and six fresh oysters. Sushi and pizza will be for sale on the day.

- Wade Bales is the Founder of Wade Bales Fine Wines & Spirits:
wadebales.co.za

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