Arts and Culture

Cheers to a cocktail coup

Janine Stephen

An eye-wateringly yellow drink is the Capital Cocktail to celebrate Cape Town's status as World Design Capital.

Johan Blaauw's WDC2014 cocktail celebrates Cape Town's World Design Capital status. (Supplied)

Despite a slow start, shops across Cape Town are sporting daffodil-hued reminders of the city’s World Design Capital coup in their window displays or décor (designer Skinny laMinx was an early pioneer).

Now you can drink to the win: Johan Blaauw, bar and lounge manager at the One&Only Hotel in Cape Town, has stirred up a shining WDC2014 cocktail to match the yellow-wrapped palms in the drive and the painted pillars in the gallery.

The drink contains Collison’s White Gold brandy, lime juice, homemade rooibos syrup and apple juice, all of which add up to a cocktail that tastes just right, but is too golden. The quest, after all, is to match pantone 109C, the WDC’s signature colour.

“We’re fortunate in that we’ve got a creative pastry kitchen, so if we need to come up with a funky colour we can get assistance from the chef,” says Blaauw. In the end, a pinch of edible food colouring added the shocking hue. And so the Capital Cocktail was mixed.

How yellow is it? “Pretty yellow,” says Blaauw.

A visit proved him right. The tipple arrived, glowing like the sun. It was freshly iced, but warming, and far from sweet. Flavours melded to rich effect. Yellow? Eye-wateringly so.

Blaauw (31) is devoted to his trade (he is actually moving on to hip city bar Orphanage). “Bartending has always sort of been looked upon as transient ... but suddenly it’s cool to be a bartender again, maybe for the first time since Prohibition,” he says. “People are seeing that it’s an art and a science. Chefs create; bartenders create.”

Also, “mixology follows gastronomy”: where there are good restaurants, good bars will follow.

Back to the cocktail. Non-drinkers need not feel left out – there is a version without alcohol. The ingredients are home-grown. South Africa produces excellent brandies, says Blaauw, and “you don’t get more South African than rooibos”. The timing’s right: “Cocktails are on a high at the moment; it’s ridiculous.”

The Capital Cocktail, at R55, is mixed at the Vista Bar & Lounge, One&Only Hotel, Cape Town. It will be showcased as Cocktail of the Year at the Fine Brandy Fusion events in May and June.

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