The Botanist/The Forager Gin Experience

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I've been lured out of my blogging hibernation. By alcohol, not surprising, but ironic that I am coming out of this literal hibernation in the middle of winter. You all have The Botanist, a super-premium artisanal ginhand-crafted on the wild Hebridean to blame (or thank) for that. 

I went to The Forager, a unique pop up concept, presented by The Botanist Gin, which saw a limited number of pop up evening events taking place between June and August in unconventional, secret urban spaces in Cape Town and Johannesburg. If you would like to have your own The Forager experience, check out the dates on Quicket.

And as these type of events go, everyone introduces themselves in almost the same fashion as an alcoholics anonymous meeting (oh the irony, it hurts). "Hi, I'm Megan. I used to blog, but..." And then the story of why I stopped would follow. But through all my interactions I was enticed to start writing again (and I did write, albeit not public, the 1000 plus notes on my phone can testify to that).
At the event I chatted to a couple of journos who said that writing was "such a chore" and while it did feel like it sometimes, I realised that it has always been what I lived for, the one thing that I loved more than anything. It took a few cocktails to realise that.

So, The Forager saw three bartenders find their ingredients for three different cocktails in non-urban setups, the veld, the sea, your garden. These three bartenders then had to compete and through a voting system, one of them would win a trip to where The Botanist is made.

Our first cocktail arrives but we're not allowed to drink it until bartender Julian arrives to explain what we are about to taste. I started sucking on a sugar stick in the cocktail. "It tastes like burnt sugar," I said. "No, it tastes like candyfloss," someone else says. I stood corrected. Julian arrived: "It's calendula - like saffron, but cheaper." It was delicious. The Backyard Sours cocktail further consisted of pan-fried lime juice (magic!), cumquats and six different foraged mints. It smelled like a spa! It tasted sort of like a brutal fruit. Julian, if you're reading this, please don't shoot me. It really was delicious!

Second, we were served a cocktail called Rose Gold. It was strong and bold and my favourite. I'm quite surprised I could remember much after the shot-sized drink. It was packed with gin, vermouth and a potent shrub. I really cannot remember much of bartender Dino's presentation, it really was potent.

Luckily we had some flippen lekker snacks, like guinea fowl pot pies and gin eclairs to settle our stomachs and I could gather my thoughts again.

In the background Black Betty starts playing and we are served our third cocktail, A Slow Walk With Margaret. The bartender, Keegan, explains that his special brew contains The Botanist Gin, Rooibos with wild ginger rosemary and jasmine flowers, Toscello bitters and RAW egg white. It made the cocktail thicker, he said. It also made the froth at the top. It looked like beer, it tasted like the kicking cousin of your grandma's rooibos tea. "But it doesn't have too much of a kick," Keegan added. "I want you to enjoy more than one."

"It's the perfect nightcap," my friend Nico said and the table nodded in agreement. Also in the cocktail is something called Ugly Betty Tincture - ties in well with the Ram Jam song, and it was topped off by a lavender flower - foraged on the farm of the old herb sage Margaret Roberts herself.
It was the perfect way to have a mommy's night out and the perfect way to get me out of my shell again.

{Pics by Alessio la Ruffa}

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