Caitlin Hill, of ‘Mother’s Ruin’ Gin Bar, Cape Town, visited us this October as part of the #BotanistSA foraged cocktails winners’ delegation. We took her foraging with Mark Williams, and quizzed her about her experiences with The Botanist on Islay and in South Africa. Had it made any lasting impression? Here’s what she said…
CH: Foraging always makes me feel very child-like, you know, going around trying out different things.
“Over here on Islay, I haven’t known many of the plants we’ve found. I mean, I know some of them by taste or smell, but I’ve never actually seen them in the wild before. Back home we have sage and mint and common rosemary and stuff like that, but then there’s a lot of wild plants as well, like fynbos, and buchu, and honeybush and pelargoniums… There’s probably about six different pelargoniums, peppermint, rose, local… I can’t remember all of them. Then we do have some sorrel as well, which is pretty cool. It is very different to what you have here though.
“Foraging in its own right definitely has changed how I run a bar, how I own it, and how we make drinks. You really think about what you’re making and what ingredients you’re using, where you’re getting them from and the different ways in which you can use them. You make your own bitters and tinctures and do a lot more infusions and you think more on a local level… And therefore also you’re getting less common things, so, you’re making drinks that no-one else is making anywhere else in the world. Because they can’t.
“As a bartender or a bar-owner you look for ways in which you can set yourself apart and foraging is a great way of doing exactly that. There’s a lot of effort required for successful foraging, much more than just going to buy botanicals from a store or calling a supplier. It’s because it’s so different, it’s priceless.
“‘I could talk about foraging all day…”
See here for the foraged cocktail Caitlin created for The Botanist Academy on Islay >>
More information about The Botanist South African pop-up bar and foraging programme here >>
Mother’s Ruin Gin Bar on Instagram >>