As South Africans, many of us believe that no sunset is complete without a delicious gin and tonic to accompany it. Watching the sky turn into a kaleidoscope of red, orange and pink is a magnificent sight, and one that deserves a drink that can meet its standard. Introducing the Dollie’s hand crafted and infused gins made from our very own Mpumalanga province – see more on the history of the Dollie’s gin through Kim’s blog, published a few weeks ago. These new gins hit the Londolozi market a few months ago and have been a major success with guests as well as staff. Craft gins have been a popular choice of drink in South Africa for the past few years and this trend shows no sign of slowing down when the standard being produced is climbing higher and higher.
The four different flavours of Dollie’s gins are the Lowveld Dry (which is a classic dry gin with no added flavours), the Rooibos and Lemongrass (my personal favourite) which makes use of the fynbos plant called “rooibos” meaning “red bush” that is found in the southern cape. Rooibos is a popular flavour in South Africa mainly used in tea but also has been infused into things like ice cream, ice tea or used along side other aromatics to smoke meat. The colour of this gin is almost amber like which is due to the redness of the rooibos and then paired with the flavour of lemongrass makes this gin very refreshing. The purple coloured gin is the Dollie’s Blueberry and Pimento flavoured one that gives the gin a more fruity flavour. The last Dollie’s gin is the Strawberry and Wild Basil. Despite the bright pink colour of the gin, it doesn’t have an overpowering strawberry flavour as the wild basil brings a beautiful herbaceous balance to this gin.
So now that we know more about the different flavoured gins, our next job is it pair it perfectly with a delicious tonic water. Most people only know about the classic Indian tonic water but here at Londolozi we keep a variety of flavoured tonics to make your G&Ts just that much more magical. Guests are always welcome to mix and match their gin and tonic flavour however they see fit but here are some of our recommended combos.
Rooibos and lemongrass gin pairs wonderfully with the Barker and Quinn honeybush orange tonic as the citrus notes in this tonic compliment the rooibos element. The blueberry and pimento gin goes wonderfully with the Barker and Quinn marula tonic as this rounds off the fruity flavour of the gin and, if the marula fruit is good enough for the elephants, it’s good enough for us! For the strawberry and wild basil gin we definitely recommend the Barker and Quinn hibiscus tonic, both elements are bright pink and who doesn’t love a pink drink! Lastly, to pair with the Dollie’s lowveld dry gin we recommend the Barker and Quinn Indian tonic, as both carry the natural and usual flavours you would expect from a G&T. Otherwise for those who are a bit more health conscious or who really want to taste the gins, you can leave the tonic water and use soda water as your mixer instead, or go for a “sonic” which is half soda and half tonic.
Now once you have chosen your gin and tonic combination, the last step is to choose your gin fruit accompaniment. We have an array of fruits and herbs to mix and match with your G&T and many guests have a great time trying new combinations. If you find yourself at a loss and need a bit of gin fruit guidance; this is what we recommend: Lowved dry with the classic Indian tonic is great finished off with a slice of lemon and a small bunch of mint for some great acidity and a balance of freshness. Blueberry and pimento with the marula tonic mixture works well with a few blueberries and sliced figs in the mix. For the rooibos and lemongrass and honey bush orange combo we suggest a generous slice of grapefruit to enhance the amber colour of the drink along with a sprig or two of thyme which compliments the rooibos flavour beautiful. Lastly, the pink drink of strawberry and wild basil gin along with hibiscus tonic goes beautifully with some sticks of cucumber and a small sprig of fresh basil. The greenery in the pink drink really pops making this a very striking cocktail, you can of course add a slice or two of strawberry as well to bring out more of the fruity flavour.
Next time you find yourself under a golden African sunset at Londolozi, ask your ranger or tracker for a Dollies gin and tonic. It won’t disappoint!