By Greg Landman. Photographs by Jaco Voges.
If the thought of 280 fabulous gins from all over the world, 14 superb tonic waters and 200 exciting gin cocktails made by a master makes your mouth water, look no further than at Asara’s magnificent Sansibar Gin Bar in Stellenbosch.
The setting is worth the trip alone, with the distant mountains benevolently framing the scene. The farm lake, one of three on the property, is right in front of you, and masses of multi-coloured bougainvillea gather at the water’s edge.
Inside, the barman, Joseph Kasongo, reigns supreme, effortlessly knocking up gin-based cocktails using a range of herbs like juniper (of course), pink pepper corns, twists of lemon and lime, and splashes of great tonic waters, just bitter enough to make it all interesting.
Any thoughts of the super sweet tonic water one is used to having is gone, and one is reminded why the British just had to have tonic—with quinine—in their gin. (Blame it on the mozzies.) Well that’s my excuse any way.
Though there are gins from all over the world, like a rhubarb one from the UK, and a rare French one that costs R690 a tot.
Pride of place is given to the spectacular range of locally made gins from the likes of Blaauwklippen, Hope on Hopkins, Jorgensen, and Inverroche. Joseph keeps his range alive by meticulous research and the imported gins are brought in by whoever is coming south.
If you really do not want gin (why not?) there are cognacs and whiskies, even non-alcoholic cocktails, to satisfy the most fastidious of palates. But the numero uno choice here is gin, so spoil yourself, get a designated driver, or better still, stay over in one of their luxurious suites and let your sophisticated side out to roam.
For more information, phone 021 888 8000.