A veritable tsunami of gins has drenched and quenched the thirsty shores of Durban, as the craft spirit rage has swept and sloshed its way throughout the nation’s chilled glasses. Add to the mix is the established trend of pop-ups and a blend of the two, like a well-crafted cocktail, has inspired a trend convergence in Durban’s first ever pop-up gin bar. Woohoo!
Brainchild of Mark Elliott, who identified a unique opportunity and decided to strike while the ice cubes were still cold, the Secret Gin Bar is the first of its kind in the province and has popped-up for its maiden serve for just the month of October at Lupa in Durban North.
The menu adopts the playful build-your-own G&T approach, starting with a choice of glass (balloon or highball); followed by a selection of over 35 different gins, with a significant bulk representing premium South African gins. Thirty. Five. It puts my own collection to shame, and that takes doing. For those who know it, even the Schwarzwald dry gin, Monkey 47, is on the shelf. When you’ve come up for air after going through that list, you choose your tonic (bitter, lite, pink, local or craft), the next step is your garnish of choice, and you finish with one of the flavoured bitters (that includes rhubarb,wormwood, orange, Jamaican, birchwood and a few more!) The pop-up bar stocks a private collection of bitters not available in the country. But now might be available in my handbag, where I was tempted to stow them.
Among the team pouring the drinks, it was great to see familiar Durban mixologist and bar tender, Harroon Haffajee and Luke Knox. If you are overwhelmed by the choices, let them do the pouring. So you can do the drinking.
But, it’s not all gin. So if you aren’t a juniper & quinine kinda person (nobody’s perfect) then bubbles and suds are on the reverse side of the menu, the champers is South African and the brew is craft, of course.
The venue is situated at Lupa Durban North for the month of October only. It’s open from Thursday to Saturday (and possibly for Sunday lunch but you will have to check). It will hopefully pop-up in other exciting spots soon after. You can find the Secret Gin Bar on Facebook and Instagram for updates.