Gin Kween. The Botanical Bar experience.

KwazuluNatal Gin

They say that success if 5 percent luck and 95 percent hard work. That will most certainly be true for the driving force behind our Mother City’s favourite secret Gin Bar and trendy broth bar Marrow, who has launched yet another hipster magnet this month called ‘The Botanical Bar’. Designed to showcase South African ever growing artisan liquor offerings, with over 85 local gin brands now being sold, along with the new craze of foraging combining the different tastes of bitters, syrups, tonics and tinctures made from local botanicals.

While we’ve seen the foraged-for fresh ingredients on the rise, however, perfected by our favourite Gin Kween Caitlin Hill, this venue only uses local craft local liquor – beer, rum, brandy and gin – to accompany the fresh flavours which are set out at the back of their drink and foods menu.

Located just off buzzing Bree Street, the new concept from Anthony Gird, Michael De Klerk, Jeanne Marais and Dennis Williams will showcase local drinks producers and ingredients. Look forward to recreations of classics made with creative botanical tinctures, bitters, syrups, vermouths and shrubs. The tinctures specifically will form a library of flavours from which the bartenders can choose as they flex their imaginations.

Ask for Peter or Josh behind the bar to make something that expresses your ‘ vibe’. You’ll thank me later.

You can find it at 160 Longmarket Street, Cape Town or call: 064 686 4164. It’s open Monday to Thursday Bar: 4pm to 12.30am; Kitchen: 5pm to 9.45pm; Friday and Saturday Bar: 3pm to 1.30am; Kitchen: 5pm to 9.45pm.

 

The prodigal son. The Salon 59 Trace Experience.

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A few Saturdays ago, our beloved salonnière Jackie Burger and Michelin-star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen presented the eleventh and final Salon 58 soirée for this year entitled Trace at Wellington’s Old Tannery, a settlement that was left behind to mature for several years after the company moved to newer facilities and become the clay that later formed a beautiful rustic old business village, a business community, on the banks of the Kromrivier. With 2017 drawing to a close, Jackie and her team explored the idea that we can’t create a future without knowing our past and traced the memories and experiences that have brought us collectively to where we are today.

For those of you who have perhaps been living under a rock for the past two years, the co-host grew up on a farm in Mpumalanga and started his culinary and photography training at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography and after graduating, did a stint as contributing food editor to ELLE magazine, where under Jackie’s wing he was encouraged to flourish and grow and eventually paved his journey to France. Once in the culinary capital of the world, he started his rapid rise with his first step on the ladder as Executive Chef for the Champagne house PIAFF in the South of France. It was on an early morning walk that Chef van der Westhuizen found a quaint old Vespa mechanic shop on the port side of Nice and after a major refurbishment, JAN was opened in September 2013. However, it was only to receive a Michelin star at the beginning of 2016 that our good boy became the toast once again of his native country.

Darling, we’ve never said the world inhabited by the pretty young things aren’t fickle. So when you’re the toast of the world, people seem to renew their interest sharing memories of times together, however, for those that never lost faith were front and centre throughout the day as old colleagues, confidants and conspirators conjured this magical day of food and fashion and finery. With everyone dressed according to the day’s theme: ‘bringing the bow tie back’, you would imagine no less than absolute perfection from this creative menagerie.

Jan and I both grew up in an Afrikaans farming community, pushed against boundaries as young adults and found part of ourselves in France. For me, it was fashion; for Jan, food.’

The dichotomous décor was also inspired by timeless images of Jackie and Jan Hendrik as if on their way to the opera in Paris, their journey and experiences traced through food and fashion in touch, smell, texture and the senses in an installation by Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography (a nice nod by his alma mater).

As is typical of our favourite salonnière, the balancing of food and fashion, was both overwhelming and subtle incorporating sublime creations by Stefania Morland, AKJP and Crystal Birch along with retailers Trenery, Witchery, Country Road, H&M, Kat van Duinen, Tread + Miller under the deft styling of Elaine du Plessis. For those wishing to indulge in immediate gratification, the pop-up Parisian-style market purveyed vintage finds by Plan B Vintage, notebooks and cushions by Masquerade, homeware by Jan, blooms by Blomboy, candles and skincare by Africology, artworks by Lucie de Moyencourt, artisanal bread by Schoon de Companje and Clemengold craft gin.

Incorporating the rural farmlands of his youth, Jan Hendrick balanced his menu on the four most iconic ingredients of his culinary journey, and under the production of chef’s extraordinary at Slippery Spoon, there were served at various food stations conceptualised by Curated Event Concepts. From the classic Malva pudding with aster custard, vanilla bean and honeycomb ice cream and dehydrated yoghurt, the savoury Melkkos in a Pecorino bêchamel with a soft organic egg yolk, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, truffle oil, onion seeds and gold leaf and the Mieliepap Panna Cotta with boerenkaas, biltong mousse and caramelised onion essence with fresh bread supplied by our favourite baker Fritz Schoon.

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The all-white 50-metre-long table echoed the all-white interior of Maria, my new restaurant named for my grandmother, and evoked the communal gatherings both Jackie and I love’ said Jan Hendrik as he served his version of the final dinner, or in this case dessert, of sago pudding encased in meringue, surrounded by heavy cream and finished off with a dusting of powdered hibiscus dust and paired with a Pierre Jourdan Ratafia from Haute Cabrière.

As the moon had long since risen and people were itching to break off to chat in little groups on the sidelines, Jackie reminded us that ‘sustainable style and authenticity go hand in hand as we seek to take the best from the past and reinvent it for today. I chose classic items with dramatic updates and new-millennium cachet‘ to describe the eleventh of her soirées.

Words can be easily dismissed, however, she mentioned something similar in an ELLE online interview back in 2014, around the same time that Jan was starting his own journey, that Jackie offered this piece of advice to her younger 25-year-old self: “It sounds cliché but always follow your heart and never compromise your values. It is easy to fall prey to the outer rewards of fancy titles and perceived monetary status. What really matters first and foremost is realising your talents and honing your skills; the rest will follow!

La reine est morte. Vive la reine!

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But wait, there’s more, is perhaps a catch-phrase I’m going to liberate to highlight the must have read of the new year. ‘In this edition of The Salonnière we reminisce about the past meeting the present, we revive and re-contextualise experiences and we celebrate memories of our roots. It is an invitation to reflect, enjoy and indulge in a celebration of your own trace elements.’ – Alwijn Burger, Blomboy (and The Salonnière designer)

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A Homage to the natural. The Pichulik Harvest Experience.

Katherine-Mary Pichulik (1)Called Harvest, our favourite Salon 58 designer Katherine-Mary described this collection of apparel and jewellery, “a celebration of the power and meaning of cycles in life and in nature. Summer is about more than enjoying the sun. It is a time of sensuality and pleasure that are necessary to feed our souls,” she says. “As women, we are strongly attuned to the meaning of cycles – a time for rest and introspection, a time for expression and doing, a time for nurturing and patience.

The collection began at the end of last summer when I gathered shells, pebbles and pieces of driftwood on the beach. As we moved into winter, I began considering the bounty of foraging and reaping the rewards of cycles that exist both in us and in nature and researched ancient harvest festivals in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and pagan cultures. Although each had their own rituals and symbols, all contained elements of ceremony, music, dancing and feasting in an expression of gratitude for being allowed to enjoy the abundance brought about through one’s own efforts,” Pichulik says as she shows us around the Maison with each of the exquisitely crafted items displayed like treasures they are crafted from.

The materials, shapes and finishes that make the garments and jewellery in Harvest strongly reflect this “expression of luxury and the purity of pleasure that ones find in nature”. Similarly, harvest colours of black, white and wheat yellow interspersed with stone and grey are contrasted with saturated coral, blue and yellow that are associated with celebration and abundance. In addition to pebbles, Pichulik also worked with gemstones such as Dalmatian and Jasper that are shaped into pendants titled Wand Femme and Homme- celebrating the talismanic and symbolic magic of such seasonal festivals. Abalone shell and porcelain shapes created by master ceramic artist and maker Michelle Legg are strung on chokers and wraps and entitled ‘Gather’. These items feel precious – the porcelain balls inviting a scent to be dropped in its vessel, the cast abalone containing a memory. The combination of soft and hard elements is what Pichulik calls a blend of Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune and The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky.

Nadya von SteinTaking the harvest theme a step further, the latest #PichulikbyNadya collection took its cue from Britain’s Land Girls who took over farm work during World War II too. At the time, their practical uniform, which included a tunic and breeches, was often considered disgraceful but were designed so that they could move and work comfortably. They heralded women’s new-found independence. The garments marry the nostalgic silhouettes of the ’40s with classic tailoring, except the dresses that are free and flowing in a nod to Pina Bausch’s raw and ecstatic ballet set to The Rites of Spring. The swing dress has hemp rope detailing and is a limited-edition design. The pinstriped summer suit too has a hemp drawstring on the jacket and PICHULIK D-ring detail on the trousers. “In celebration of the cycles we have reintroduced PICHULIK’s signature half-moon cut outs on the jumpsuit and blouse,” says designer Nadya von Stein.

The jewellery and apparel in the Harvest collection will be available online and in store on 14 October (online + retail + other shops) + preview to shop at Zeitz Mocca store opening 15th September.

Bringing Sexy Back. The Forager 2.0 Experience.

Last year, you will remember one of our favourite gins, The Botanist introduced us not only to their fragrant product but also their Forager competition which saw friends AJ Snetler (head barman at The Twankey Bar) and Caitlin Hill (now Brand Ambassador of Rémy Cointreau’s niche brands) competing for the ultimate prize of being South Africa’s first crowned Forager and win, in part, that career defining trip to Islay, meet the distilling legend Jim McEwan and experience the progressive Hebridean distillery Bruichladdich in all its glorious splendour.

 

Forager 2.0 finals

(from left to right are: Charl Albertus, Ramiz Victor, Caitlin Hill and James Meredith)

 

Launched this Wednesday past in Cape Town, The Forager 2.0 featured three of Cape Town’s up-and-coming bartenders, namely: Charl Albertus (replacing Cameron Hawkins), James Meredith and Ramiz Remano Victor who, like all The Forager contestants, were challenged to ‘craft the wildest serves, using The Botanist Gin and local, hand-foraged botanicals’. Before each event, the participating bartenders, under the tutelage of Roushanna Gray (Western Region), Chef and Forager, Charlie Lakin (Eastern Region) and Sandy Roberts (Northern Region) are taken on a local foraging tour to choose indigenous ingredients from their region, from which they will create their own unique serves of The Botanist Gin.

20953444_278784945859779_7641528149094368893_nSaid James of the experience “by experimenting with all sorts of different flavour combinations from plants found in nature, I feel as if I have broadened my horizons and now have a new understanding. Knowing more about Cape Town’s Floral Kingdom will give me the upper hand when creating unusual and interesting drinks.”

Now for all of the readers who are still trying to be cool and bring ‘fetch’ back, Cape Town isn’t the only city to be able to experience the competition. The Forager 2.0 will also highlight bartenders and venues in Johannesburg with Burdett Geiling (Sin & Tax), Tayla Henshall (The Artisan) and Justin Bester (Marble) all competing along with Durban’s The Chef’s Table, Lucky Shaker, and The Chairman all competing for Botanist Gin honours. This year, the difference from is to also have each cocktail available at the various venues, post competition, for members of the public to experience these works of passion for themselves over the coming weeks.

The format for each city is the same: industry experts and invited guests to take part in an Urban Forage visiting each competitor’s bar, taste the cocktails and then vote for the one they feel is the most inspired. By mid-October, the regional winners will compete for the title of the ‘Wildest Cocktail’ in South Africa. The bartender with the most votes and highest score at the end of The Forager series will win the ultimate Botanist experience which includes a foraging master class with our favourite Roushanna Gray, two days with industry expert and 2016’s winner, Gareth Wainwright, and a personalised forager’s bartending kit bag.

wining cocktailAfter trekking through the city from The Stack to The Gin Bar and ending at The Orphanage Cocktail Emporium, the first leg of the competition saw Charl Albertus, who shares our long-held desire to enjoy a cigar and Martini with Sir Winston Churchill, win the regional competition. He described the use of Rooibos and Buchu, two of his favourite indigenous flavour botanicals as the foundation of his foraged cocktail entitled ‘Cape Foliage’ which received the nod from judges as the cocktail which represented the ideals of the competition. So, if this Wednesday past was anything to go by we hope that the intense competitive comradery of Cape Town’s finest serves as an example to those competing in Johannesburg and Durban who have a high standard set when designing their offerings for the pretty young things who habitually follow only the latest urban trends and cocktails.

For more information, follow The Forager on Facebook @TheForagerSA and Instagram @TheForagerSA or make your own urban forage cocktail using The Botanist Gin available only the best-selected retailers country-wide.

Image supplied by Friday Street Club.

The ARTIFAKT x RU Experience.

Research Unit, a South African high-end accessories brand is launching its new collection, entitled ARTIFAKT.

The collection is based on the founder’s fascination with Africa incorporating African masks, universally identified as Africa, props and a painted backdrop to look like the rawness of an excavation site, one that is set out to discover artefacts buried in Africa.

Each product is individually handcrafted from vegetable tanned South African leather and scotch guarded canvas. The products are hand-dyed, polished and hand stitched to last a lifetime.

The ARTIFAKT collection is a satirical take on Africa, thereby combining elements of luxury craftsmanship in a utilitarian manner and is reminiscent of how general items become findings and therefore ARTIFAKTS.

“We wanted a gender fluid model that embodied a more progressive look and we see the square shape of the arrow mask as male and the circle as female. This is prevalent in our brand. The combination of these two shapes mathematically gives rise to all other shapes in the universe thus there is no male or female.” Chad Petersen

“When you look at the definition of Artifakt, it’s something that is made by someone. We teach our staff how to handcraft all our products with as much care and precision as possible. We find our way to our beautifully crafted bags via the design and production processes we’ve implemented, so we’d like to think they’re already ARTIFAKTS in the making, as well as being pieces of art” – Erin-lee Petersen

The ARTIFAKT Collection boasts the brand-new April Bag, new colour ways in their bucket bags, a larger backpack, the new leather duffle bag and a hand-crafted Nappa evening clutch. The founders will showcase the collection in Europe early 2018, where they’ve already established relationships whilst

having their pop-up store in Berlin, Germany in 2016. The brand has also relaunched an already successful online store, which ships internationally and the collection will be available at their V&A Waterfront Store in Cape Town.

Vive la reine! The Salon58 Cycles experience.

Salon 58-4There are meteorological and astronomical seasons, both marked by specific weather conditions, temperatures, or length of the days. For those of us who are privileged to know and love Jackie Burger, that rarefied celestial being of grace, wisdom and beauty, we clock our seasons to her Salon 58’s soirées. As a fitting tribute to the end of a national month celebrating the many strong, independent women who weave the fabric of our lives, this Saturday past at the PJ Olivier Centre Art Centre in Stellenbosch we not only experienced the tenth soirée but co-joined in the themes of changing lives, our ever-changing faces and raised a glass of bubbles in a nod to her recently celebrated landmark birthday.

I am approaching a new life cycle which calls for a different ‘version’ of me. This made me think of the various cycles a woman goes through and the different women we have to be as we move through them. Each presents a new opportunity to pause for a moment and reflect and edit the person we have become before moving into the next. Yet we often don’t acknowledge and embrace this,” said Jackie Burger of the inspiration for her tenth soirée, #Salon58Cycles.

We are moving through a disruptive phase, shaking up the status quo and breaking down traditional stereotypes. With Cycles, I wanted us to embrace the emerging values of inclusivity, creativity and fluidity that allow us to make conscious choices devoid of stereotypical rules and codes.”

This is a lesson Jackie had to learn herself in the course of her career in fashion and which she shared with the 120 guests in attendance. “It has been the most profound lesson in understanding what truly defines me, stripping who I used to be and acknowledging the cyclical nature of growth while embracing the change and the fear that comes with it – in addition to battling my self-imposed cowardice.”

It extends to fashion, too, and this, as always, was at the heart of Cycles.

We are caught up in a ‘fast fulfilment’ and highly disposable fashion economy fuelled by the quest for the latest in ‘cool’. Recent studies have shown that the average American woman does not wear 60% of the pieces in her wardrobe. My aim is always to inspire women to reconsider their choices and reclaim their sense of self instead of chasing after a look or image that will be old news by the end of the week.

Powerful words which impact the way we think about things, but what exactly do Cycles mean on a level of an application rather than just mindfulness? Ms Burger referred to cycles not only as the theme of the soirée but as the theme of our lives and our ever-changing faces. She continued, “it resonated with my personal cycle and I, therefore, invited guests to ‘come as you are’ instead of specifying a dress code.”

The Cycles participating designers – PICHULIK, Jota-Kena, Maison Noir Collection, Tilone, Trebene and Jane Sews – were handpicked because they design and create personalised brands with all-season appeal and an environmental and social conscience. They joined Burger in a hands-on style tutorial before participating in a conversation with guests, which is at the core of every salon, about the key pieces in a women’s wardrobe, different phases women go through and how it impacts their style choices and styling.

On the beauty front, M.A.C. Cosmetics welcomed guests with an exploration of the possibilities that come with facing the world as “who you are”. For this, the M.A.C Cosmetics team hosted a makeup session before the soirée kicked off in earnest. Guests were able to sit with the artists and choose which touch-up they’d like, whether signature red lips (a typical Burger signature along with a crisp white shirt), a hint of contouring or bold eyes.

Eight women representing various cycles participated in the Rare Librarian showcase curated and produced by Juanita Kotze with Suzaan Heyns’ latest designs decorated with Swarovski crystals. In addition to bringing the concept of Cycles home, Kotze says she chose crystals to illustrate the beauty of imperfection. “In the words of Leonard Cohen: ‘Forget your perfect offering / There’s a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.’”

An afternoon high tea with delicacies accompanied by Graham Beck’s Demi-sec Bliss MCC and the opportunity to shop the participating designers’’ garments and accessories at the #Cycles pop-up shop saw to it that the day ended on a high note.

After three years, Jackie has evolved further and at the soirée, she introduced a new menu of nine style sessions that cover all aspects of a style makeover from an introductory assessment to the final shopping trip. Clients are welcome to book them one by one, going at their own pace, or in packages. For special occasions and corporate celebrations, there is the option of group bookings.

Nonetheless, in true Salon 58 style the pièce de résistance of the afternoon, and given her seven years as editor of ELLE it’s no wonder that Jackie has returned to the format with her own insightful Salon 58 zine offering (co-produced with our favourite Alwijn Burger of Blomboy, Salon 58’s creative director) with the simple explanation, “I love magazines for the thoughts and ideas they impart, for taking me places, for revealing moments that become entries in my journals.

We all, as our Jaguar XJ’s drive reluctantly away from the braak. take some part of the afternoon away with us: whether it be the memory of the experience as a whole, a number of new friendships made during the day or just the many, many photos that we snap on our smartphones. However, we now, as Jackie calls it, were able to this physical manifestation of the soirée “sharing the collective and collaborative wisdom of all who tirelessly and lovingly work to co-create Salon 58 soirées.

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La reine est morte. Vive la reine!