The Spirit of Cape Town: HOPE ON HOPKINS

Hope on Hopkins


The world revolves around trends.  One week people are obsessed with dressing their cats up in stockings and the next they’re adding cricket flour to their desserts.  One trend that’s on the rise and is sure to stay is artisanal gin.  Gone are the days when gin was the go-to for grannies; younger crowds have had a taste of the new craft gins on the market and they’re never letting them go.  So last week I attended a tasting at the Mother City’s very first gin distillery, Hope on Hopkins, to see what this craze is all about, and well, I now know what I’ll be drinking until I’m a granny.  

After nearly 15 years of living in the UK as practicing lawyers, partners Lucy Beard and Leigh Lisk decided it was time to return to their sunny South African roots and embark on a new adventure.  Identifying the huge increase in gin distilleries across the UK (56 in the past 2 years), Lucy and Leigh knew that there was massive potential in South Africa and that 2014 was the time for them to hop into the gin rabbit hole.  Starting from scratch, the couple converted a warehouse into their distillery (and home with Mimo the cat), and after online courses, help from other gin professionals, and many trial and error experiments, they finally concocted the perfect bottles of gin that can now be found in bars and intimate bottle stores.  

With the help of their two gleaming stainless steel stills, Mildred and Maude, the couple have created 3 varieties of gin.  The London Dry Gin and the Salt River Gin are their own, whilst the third variety is produced for Musgrave.  Walking the tasting group through the distillery, Lucy explained exactly how their gin is made from the very beginning up until the final process.  Going from one still to the next, changing the gin from “moonshine deluxe” to something that is actually drinkable, and finally adding in the beautiful flavours of their locally sourced botanicals, Lucy and Leigh have done one helluva job in mastering the craft of gin making.

Hope on Hopkins Aromatics


After the tour, we grabbed a seat in the gorgeous space that they have created above the distillery to try out their creations.  First up was the London Dry Gin served with tonic, a sprig of rosemary and lemon zest.  Smooth with subtle hints of juniper, citrus and rosemary, this quadruple (yes, I said quadruple) distilled beauty is absolute perfection.  Next was the Musgrave Gin served with tonic, black pepper and cucumber.  Undertones of cardamom, African ginger and Grains of Paradise, this gin is all about the flavours of Africa and its ancient spice route.  And finally, the Salt River Gin, which was my personal favourite.  Infused with flavours of Buchu, citrus peel and Kapokbos (wild rosemary), I could easily sip on this all night long.   Served with tonic, grapefruit and thyme, the fruity flavours are certainly something special and are bound to get you hooked.

The night was one filled with knowledge, great chats and incredible gin.  Lucy and Leigh not only very clearly know what they’re doing, but they’re also fantastic, down-to-earth people that are eager to share their passion with others.  So grab a couple of friends and make your way to Salt River to broaden your gine ral (see what I did there?) knowledge while losing yourself in the beautiful flavours of Cape Town’s first locally crafted gin.  

P.S. Don’t forget to give Mimo some love before you leave!
For more information or to make a booking for your private tasting and tour, e-mail Lucy at


Hope on Hopkins Stills

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[Category: Cape Town, Drink, Restaurant, Reviews, Cities, Craft, Craft Gin, Craft Gin Distillery, Culture, distillery, Gin, gin distellery, Hope on Hopkins, London Dry Gin, Musgrave Gin, play, review, reviews, Salt River Gin]