What do you get when you infuse a landmark Woodstock venue with a couple of shots of craft gin distilleries, a dash of awesome weather, a few good glugs of splendid tunes, a handful of delicious food trucks and a very generous sprinkling of happy people? Why, the best cocktail in all of Cape Town! I recently attended the Cape Town Gin & Tonic Festival hosted at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town. Here are my tasting notes, with all the cherries on top!
Sundays, for me at least, are meant for indulgences. Celebrations. Adventures. It’s meant for family and friends. Good food, good music and a good dose of Vitamin D in the summer. I was super excited when I got the chance to attend the Cape Town Gin & Tonic festival as a More than Food Mag Contributor, because it was my idea of a perfect Sunday (that, and the fact that I’m of course a serious gin-lover!). Hosted at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, it seemed the perfect vibe and venue for something so special as a festival hosted in the name of my favourite tipple.
On arrival, the queue to enter snaked all the way down Albertyn Road, but the mood was festive and contagious, even so early in the morning. We were let in very promptly and efficiently at 11.00am without any further wait, and already I was impressed with the overall organisation of the event. Everything moved like a well-oiled machine, and with a quick scan of my ticket we were in. We also received a branded crystal-cut g&t glass and quirky cocktail booklet on arrival.
We first had a leisurely stroll around to check out where our favourite stalls were located. One needs to approach a festival like this with an almost military plan. We found the Schweppes Lawn and music stage and decided we will probably spend a lot of time chilling in the “Tenticle”, as the line-up for the day was absolutely insane. With acts like Faye & Wren, Digital Sangoma, Diamond Thug, Nomadic Orchestra and ANG, this was guaranteed to be a gin-tastic day!
The already trendy Old Biscuit Mill complex was transformed into a magically tropical gin-topia with different lounges and sections for all tastes. There were a lovely selection of food trucks and stalls and plenty of shaded seating and little nooks where you could casually drape yourself with a G&T in hand. It was bustling with good cheer and laughs and with Table Mountain in the background and blue skies all round, it was just one of those feel-good days. Or it could’ve been the gin…
The Set Up
The Crafter’s Hall was something to behold – a showcase of proudly South African craft gins. Here you could buy tasters, singles or doubles to your heart’s delight – will all the trimmings and fantastical flair! It was a bustling hub of a very cosmopolitan mix of Cape Townians and visitors alike, all under the same roof for the love of gin.
The temptation was so overwhelming to just make my way around the room tasting each one on offer, but in the end, we settled on singles of the “must-experience-at-least-once-in-your-life” Six Dogs Blue gin, Ginifer’s pink lemonade infused gin, Flowstone Wild Cucumber gin and the classic Sugarbird gin. Asking me to choose a favourite would be like asking me to choose my favourite pet. You just don’t go there. Each one was as unique and innovative as the next and in that moment, I’ve never felt prouder of supporting local.
The Gin Courtyard was dedicated to the international gin brands who graced our beautiful shores with their presence for this occasion. All the big names in gin were present with beautiful exhibitions and stalls: Beefeater, Tanqueray, The Botanist and Gin Mare, to name only a few. The Courtyard music stage was also located in this intimate venue and boasted an inventive busking style set-up with upbeat music and brilliant acts to complement the big international brands.
And then, if that is not enough – let’s talk about the massively impressive outdoors gin bar area, suitably called The Greenhouse. This outside space was transformed into a tropical haven of shade and seats. Here you could while away a drink or two at a cocktail table whilst catching up with friends – situated a bit out of the bustle of the tasting halls, but still not too far from the music, restaurants and general vibey-ness of the day to feel serious #FOMO. Here you found displays by Aviation American Gin, Hendricks, Wixworth and a whole lot more.
And just across the way, past all the old school food trucks cooking up a storm for the stampede of gin-afficionado’s, you found the little piece of paradise that was the Gin Garden – this is where you could chill with a beautiful Malfy in hand and watch the world go by.
By far one of the best foodie experiences I’ve had to date. It was incredibly well organised, planned and thought out to the last detail. The choice of food vendors was spot-on and the quality of the various food items on offer exceptional. The venue was well suited to the event and the music – oh, man, the music! All in all, an amazing day that reminded me to take some time out every now and again. Just to enjoy the little things in life; a good song, your favourite drink, a chat with a friend, a laugh with a loved one, a Sunday afternoon indulgence in our beautiful city.