The Artisan in Greenside
Does anyone else remember Gin circa 2013? I do, all too well and it’s insane to consider how much has changed since Gin closed their doors in 2014 and The Artisan reopened their new doors in March 2015. The Artisan was the first to transition from club to restaurant and has been the only to remain. All of the other clubs met an unfortunate demise save for The Office which unfortunately is no longer what it used to be. No more Mish Mash, no Bob Rocks, no Mamas and no Toyko, all gone and replaced with various establishments. The Artisan has remained steadfast. Matt Beckett and Jon Scholtz, proud co-owners have put in a lot of work into this stunning location and it has not been in vain. Gone are the rickety stairs that we all used to blindly stumble down, as is the bar removed from the back which opens the entire place up, letting in more light and creating a different air entirely. The bar now runs the length of The Artisan, with a stunning mural on the wall behind the coffee machine. A stack of board games sits atop a shelf for anyone interested and I know they have held multiple game nights. My how the times have changed!
The beautiful mural behind the bar as well as some board games on the shelf
A full view of The Artisan
I came in upon recommendation that they had some of the best gin and tonics in Joburg and I was pleasantly surprised.
My first order was off of a chalk board promoting jam jars and a new brand of syrup called Socks Craft tonic. I was taken in by the array of flavours ranging from naartjie and thyme through to guava and rosemary.
A gin and Socks craft tonic
The Artisan have taken the flavoured syrups and added their own twist by garnishing with fresh ingredients. There is a lovely little herb garden in the back that the baristas frequent to procure herbs. It was an interesting drink but obviously not focused on the gin.
Some fresh lavender in the outdoor herb garden
Not to be deterred, I cast my eyes upon the drinks wall behind the bar and saw an array of gins such as I have never seen before; The Botantist, Wilderer, Innveroch, Hendricks, Bombay Sapphire and lastly Sipsmith which was new to me.
The impressive array of gins can be seen on the second shelf. Follow the blue hue
Sipsmith is a London Dry gin that is filled with international flavours. Even their holy trinity are exotic. Macedonian juniper berries, Belgian Angelica root, Bulgarian coriander seed, already set the tone for a striking gin. Their further botanicals include Spanish ground almond, Madagascan cinnamon bark, Spanish lemon peel, Spanish liquorice root and Seville orange peel. This gin has a variety of citrus and warm spices as botanicals, giving it a tart and zesty taste.
A bottle of Sipsmith Gin
I had mine paired with freshly picked lavender, cut up strawberries and a stunning creation by Fitch and Leeds- an elderflower flavoured tonic. Now I could write a post dedicated to that tonic alone and maybe I will but the focus here is the delicious gin. What a taste sensation it was. All of the flavours came together to create a magic and the strawberries gave the drink a slight pink hue which was gorgeous.
A Sipsmith gin and Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic garnished with fresh strawberry and lavender
Apart from my amazing gin and tonic, the staff were also lovely and Tayla Henshall, a mixologist, was kind enough to show me how their Botanist gin infuser worked.
They used Hendricks gin which it is widely known, has cucumber as one of their botanics which is why it is normally garnished with a cucumber instead of a lemon. This infuser was wonderful to watch at work, almost like a science experiment only more delicious.
The gin comes from the bottle which is tipped upside down and the flow is regulated by a little tap which you can open and close to make it run faster or slower. The gin falls into a second receptacle which is filled with whatever you wish to infuse your gin with. This time around they were doing cucumber and thyme. They previously successfully infused Botantist gin with lavender and strawberry. I was sad to have missed that flavour because it sounded wonderful.
The Botanist gin infuser
From there, another tap allows you to regulate the flow of the now infused gin, into the final glass. The slower the gin filters through here, the longer it will spend with the ingredients in it and voila, there you have infused gin! The infusing can take between 1 – 3 hours depending on the speed of your filtering and normally they do about 3 rounds of infusing depending on how strong they want to flavour to be. I was lucky to see this process in action because apparently this infuser is one of only three in South Africa.
The Artisan is perfect for after work drinks, midday lunches and even romantic dinners and I can certainly also recommend them for their impressive gin collection and freshly picked garnishes. They are also partnered with The Immigrant Bar and The Republic of 94 in Braamfontein. Two restaurants which I hope to experience soon if the Artisan is anything to go on.