You may recall one of my previous posts, ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’, in which I first climbed out of the vodka closet and declared my love for all things Juniper. Like like a perfect martini, my switching was in two equal parts: a new favourite hangout run by a mad-crazy-brilliant American proprietress and the suave and uber-cool Raphaël Cristini, then brand ambassador for the world’s only Islay produced gin. Both savant’s have been my continious guides on all things foraged from Cape Point to dusty Greyton roads on weekend breaks when we both needed to hide from the world in bottles of wine and home-made peasant pasta dishes.
Though Raph has long since left the Cape for Amsterdam, via greener vineyards in Eastern France, I am happy to continue my Juniper journey with the Cristini family. This time along with his brother, Jean-Baptiste (Tista for those in the circle) and his recently launched drinks company Geometric Drinks. Its flagship Cape Dry Gin brand, Geometric Gin features dovetail alongside Symmetry Botanical Tonics and is his unique and informed offering to the artisan spirits trade which is flourishing in the Western Cape.
Tista, born and raised in the Cape, has spent a life time enthralled by wine and followed his patrilineal heritage to Burgundy, and then on to Champagne learning the industry and craft.
After over a decade in Chablis and Champagne, he finally returned home where he discovered the endless creativity and passion of the South African wine industry. This cocktail of French tradition and South African ingenuity made Tista thirsty for experimentation and harnessing the Cape’s unique surroundings.
Distilling had been a hobby for several years, prompted by home-brewing in Champagne with his friends and the immersion into experimentation and mixology, with his first love being the classic Negroni. On arrival back in the Cape in 2013, Tista decided to distil his own gin using the locally sourced botanicals. As this hobby grew, so did the desire to produce everything from scratch, even the components of the Negroni.
The product of that experimentation is Geometrics Drinks, co-founded with Andrea and Chris Mullineux, producers of some of South Africa’s finest wines alongside Analjit Singh (BAS), the founder of hospitality group Leeu Collection, they all extend a helping hand to Tista and bring a collective of experience and perspective of excellence to this fledgling business. Named for the Geometric Tortoise, a local inhabitant, which only survives in tiny populations in the dogmatically preserved fynbos and Renosterveld areas of the Western Cape.
It is in these areas where the first wild botanicals were picked to create the botanically-inspired drinks which make up the company. Finely tuned blends sourced from wild and sustainably picked plants and classic spices from local suppliers are the bases of the two lifestyle drinks.
Made from fresh juniper berries and nine classic and indigenous botanicals, Geometric Gin, a post-modern perspective of a Cape Dry Gin, is driven with Cape Floral flair and carries aromas with a silk-like texture underpinned by citrus, cardamom and heathery fynbos. The botanicals are cold-macerated in neutral spirit for 14-days where the more fragile plants are filtered out whereas the hardier remain for the final distillation. Others are treated in single botanical distillations and blended together afterwards. With grape being the dominant spirit, delicate esters help carry the complex flavours.
With the three Symmetry Botanical Tonics, also available online or at reputable liquor stores, are inspired by the company’s vision of the three dominant profiles of Gin: Citrus for the heavily aromatic, rounder Gins; Floral for the New World, juniper-shy aromatic Gins; and Spice for the more traditional earthy, juniper-driven Gins.
The tonics, simply pasteurised with no preservatives added, are essentially virgin, unadulterated tonics. Produced in their true concentrate they are made from whole botanicals with minimal sugar content (a quarter of the sugar content of regular tonic (approx. 3-4% depending on dilution) with each recipe made to be appreciated not only as a mixer but on its own as well – so great for the so called ‘mocktails’ which people seem to enjoy these days (insert rolling eyes here!).
The secret to these complex tonics is the addition of various botanicals brings aromatics, savoury and bitter flavours without requiring large amounts of sugar which are great for those conscious of a ‘healthier’ option. Also, for those in the know, is that you don’t have to use a tonic water with this particular brand because when serving Geometric Gin and carbonated water, the mutual botanicals combine and the yin and yang come together in perfect harmony, creating the GG&T.
Symmetry Citrus Tonic is brewed from a selection of fresh citrus zest and Buchu giving its distinctive aroma. Buchu, part of the Fynbos Floral Kingdom, is traditionally used for digestive ailments and is found growing in the wild on the mid slopes of the Cape Mountains.
Symmetry Spice Tonic is brewed from fragrant spices and Cape Snowbush (Kokbos) which grow wild across the Cape. Foraged from the Atlantic Coast and the dry Swartland, it is known for its herbaceous perfume and medicinal properties against coughs and colds.
Symmetry Floral Tonic is brewed from lavender, chamomile and leaves from the pungently fragrant Rose-scented Pelargonium. This indigenous plant, found in the cooler mountain areas of the Cape, is prized for its beautiful musky rose scent.
“Geometric is a symbol of science, structure and precision,” explains Tista. “The Geometric Gin bottle design is sapped from a melange of Art Deco and apothecary lines, summarising our love for structure, nature and texture. A true reflection of some of what the Cape has to offer.”
For more information, visit the website: http://geometricdrinks.co.za or follow them on Instagram: @geometricdrinks.