1. From working in advertising to starting up the world's most celebrated mixers and tonics brand, that's quite the career change. How did that come about?
Even though I was working in advertising, having started my first business while at university I’d always been keen to set up a company. I was exploring a number of opportunities across the food and beverage sector, one of which happened to be premium gin.
As a result, I was given Charles Rolls’ number by a mutual friend as he had recently had great success in turning around Plymouth Gin, a wonderful British gin brand. Fortunately for me, Charles agreed to meet for coffee and at that very first meeting the conversation turned quickly from gin to tonic. We had both noticed – from different ends of the spectrum – the fact that people were spending all this money on craft and local gins but when it came to the tonic, they had no choice but to drown their gin with a poor-quality mixer. Within an hour or two, we’d decided to become business partners but instead of gin, we were going to focus on tonic with one simple premise that still holds true to this day that if ¾ of your drink is the mixer, use the best.
2. What's in a name? Why Fever-Tree and not Tim's Awesome Boozy Mixers?
We considered a number of names, I must admit that Tim’s Awesome Boozy Mixers didn’t make our shortlist!
When we started to look into the history of tonic, our research took us to the British Library, where we learned that quinine, the core ingredient in tonic water, comes from the bark of the cinchona tree, colloquially referred to as the fever tree. Tonic water was invented as a way of getting a dose of quinine into British troops stationed in colonies all around the world in the 1820s. It was the only way of warding off malaria. Quinine is incredibly bitter, so the army would add sugar and water to literally help the medicine go down, hence creating the first Indian Tonic Water. The troops always had a ration of gin, so then they added gin to their tonic, and hence the G&T was born. The name is a nod to the importance of the fever tree.
3. Fever Tree tonic is available in 74 countries — how hard was it to get the product so well-regarded that it could be distributed on a global level?
We realised how important it was to get the endorsement from the trade. Without budgets for large advertising campaigns, we approached our marketing very differently to the large brands. We engaged with the bartenders, the gatekeepers to the all-important hotel, bar and restaurant business, and the chefs – people with real consumer influence. This is a great way of building a reputation, prestige and word of mouth but involved a lot of shoe leather!
Even as a small start-up, we also knew that this was an international opportunity. We were very keen to establish our first-mover advantage, which is very important in the drinks industry. We identified the US and Spain as key primary markets, due to their influence across the key wider spirits category. However, as we all know it is hard enough to get interest as a start-up in your own market, let alone an international one. But we were pretty persistent and determined, using every contact we could and targeting the key bartenders and chefs as we had done in the UK. Of course, this was not without its challenges and involved a lot of budget air travel, but fast forward to 2018 and we are now in 74 markets, including here in South Africa, as well as being served in nine out of the world’s top 10 restaurants and named tonic of choice by Drinks International for the fourth consecutive year.
4. Do you have a personal favourite out of all the beverages or mixers that Fever-Tree produces?
Choosing a favourite would be like choosing between my four sons – it just isn’t possible! But I’m really enjoying our smoky ginger ale at the moment, which is made with three types of ginger and smoked applewood. Mixed with whisky, the combination tastes like a complex and sophisticated cocktail, but it’s just great whisky with ginger tailored perfectly to it, lots of ice and orange peel.
5. What makes Fever-Tree different from its competitors?
I think it comes down to quality and innovation. When creating Fever-Tree, the mixer category was dominated by a couple of multinational conglomerates that had become driven by manufacturing efficiency, rather than quality or flavour. For us, it was all about putting quality back into the category in every way possible – from the packaging, imagery, even style of serve but nowhere more so then the ingredients themselves. This resulted in a very different approach to product development with us delving into the history books to find the most authentic and highest quality ingredients we could, then going out into the field to track them down and spending time with specialist producers and experts to create our products. There’s no other company going to the lengths we do to source these fantastic ingredients.
The whole company is built on innovation. We’re constantly developing new mixers, new flavours, new ideas and in doing so, creating an array of flavours to pair with the myriad of premium spirits out there. And while G&T consumption is still in strong, long-term global growth, the spirits category is not just about gin and the mixer category is not just about tonic. What’s so exciting is that we’ve only scratched the surface!
6. You've become known as quite the business jet-setter. Where are some of the most interesting places you've visited as CEO of Fever-Tree?
Just months after meeting for the first time, Charles and I set off on a crusade that can sound more like an Indiana Jones escapade than the quest for a refreshing drink, and in that time we have both been fortunate enough to travel to some of the most exotic, remote and beautiful places, but also some very dangerous places, none more so than the eastern Democratic of Congo where we source our quinine from.
It’s always been about finding the highest quality, naturally sourced ingredients, and this really has taken me to every corner of the globe. As an example, our ginger beers and ginger ales contain a combination of three different types of ginger from three different countries.
Whether it’s our fresh green ginger from Ivory Coast, Cochin ginger from India, our lemon from Sicily or handpicked elderflowers from Gloucestershire, one of the most rewarding aspects of our travel has been learning about the ingredients and meeting the people on the ground who produce them for us. And the journey continues.
7. How does the South African mixer market compare to Europe and Northern America?
The same trends that drove the G&T revolution in the United Kingdom are beginning to emerge in South Africa, which we’re really excited about. There’s a real ‘gin explosion’ in South Africa with the emergence of an abundance of craft and local gin brands, as well as more established premium brands becoming ever more present. We’re already seeing some great opportunities for co-promotional activity both in retail but also across hotel, bars and restaurants and we believe there is a significant opportunity to increase our footprint and visibility across South Africa, capitalising on this revival of simple, long mixed drinks such as the gin and tonic.
8. Have you checked out the local bar and mixology scene? If so, do you have a favourite? And have you been to Mootee Bar in Melville?
I haven’t had the pleasure yet, but I’m keen to get out and about on my current visit to sample some of the fantastic local gins – mixed with a Fever-Tree tonic of course!
By Shawn Greyling
What Is It?
Cocktails are the order of the day at this event. It is a cocktail party like no other, where friends, partners and associates meet to have a good time. You can expect to sip on some mouthwatering cocktails and much more. There will also be lots of food available to purchase. A great event for a first date, this venue will score you lots of points. Head over and enjoy.
When Is It?
Sunday, 27 May 2018 from 16:00 - 21:00.
Where Is It?
Verdict the Venue, 23 Fox Street, Ferreiras Dorp, Johannesburg.
How Much Is It?
Tickets are free.
For More Information.
What Is It?
If you are like me and want to learn how to do all those cool things whilst mixing up your own cocktail. Then here’s something special for you. Learn all those cool skills at this event, learn how to shake and stir your own cocktail from the comfort of your own home. Get the chance to show off to your friends, with your new attained cocktail making skills. This event/workshop promises to be fun and engaging with very hands-on instructors. You’ll be drinking 11 cocktails that you will make, of course. Wait for it! It doesn’t end there, all the tools and ingredients you use in the class will be going home with you, bonus! Don’t forget to bring your ID because the event is not open to anyone younger than 18. See you there!
When Is It?
Monday, 05 March 2018 at 12:00 – 18:00
Where Is It?
Sakhumzi Restaurant, 6980 Vilakazi St, Soweto, Johannesburg
How Much Is It?
Ticket costs R 600 per person to book email [email protected]
For More Information
Visit their Facebook page
31 January 2018 was the official launch of Johannesburg’s first 100% bartender-owned craft bar. Devin Cross, Peter Good, Denzel Heath and Dom Walsh, four renowned bartenders with vast international experience in hospitality, are the brains behind the bar. Mootee Bar, described as a place of healing for the soul, makes use of modern culinary and mixology techniques, blending it with traditional drinking rituals and local ingredients.
With 120 seats, an outside rooftop deck, open air alley seating and a private lounge, Mootee Bar is a place of healing for the soul. The barmen set out to bend creative boundaries by challenging customers' understanding of local food and drink culture. Through serving unique food and creative drinks that form a perspective that is described as an authentic, yet unconventional interpretation of modern Africa. “Africa as we know it and not Africa as the world interprets.”
The cocktail menu, which took eight months to develop, is described as a sort of "Rorschach Test". Each cocktail has a visual representation of taste, designed by artist Jared Hurwitz. The illustrations are designed to trigger an emotional response in the customer which leads the consumer to place their order. Unlike traditional cocktail menus, the recipes of the drinks are not displayed in the menu, and customers are enticed to explore the twelve cocktails through this unique visual interpretation technique. Each drink is inspired by a classic African tale.
Mootee Bar's one of a kind cocktail laboratory, which is situated in the middle of the restaurant, is something one would expect to see in a later episode of Breaking Bad (sorry, we just had to go there). It contains a Rotary Evaporator Distiller, an Ultrasonic Prep, refrigerated Centrifuge and many other gadgets all used to produce Mootee Bar's creative concoctions... you don't need to know what any of those are to be able to appreciate the beverages. Sample their milktart brandy, sparkling Umqombothi or the crystal clear brandy and coke.
Whilst the food and drinks are serious, the environment is relaxed and fun. With cocktails priced at R 85 each and a meal for two costing around R 200 per couple, Mootee Bar aims to be accessible to all income ranges. Their well-balanced wine list and vast selection of spirits further demonstrates the team’s dedication to providing a well-rounded product. It was Madiba that said: "it is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world and with myself...” So, be sure to drop by for some good food, good drink and good company accompanied by good music. You can't go wrong.
Find more information here.
One of South Africa's most iconic heritage brands, BlackSteer, is making a comeback and we approve. The age-old steakhouse, which started in the early 60s, has opened various branches around Joburg since holding company Gold Brands' takeover in 2015.
To keep up with the time, BlackSteer has done a massive brand update. But, they have kept the classic ranch look it's famed for. As for the food, well... it's brilliant. Black Steer is known for its ribs. Just because they've changed their decor it doesn't mean the kitchen has changed too. The ribs taste as good as before, and come in three different flavours: Famous BlackSteer, Portuguese Style and Southern Style (Bourbon). Whatever you do, be sure to try them. BlackSteers ribs are known by older generations as the best in the country which we agree to ten fullest.
Other family favourites include their legendary grills, such as the sirloin and ribs combinations. One menu item that comes highly recommended is the cheese and bacon burger. In all honesty, this burger rocks one of the fattest and tastiest beef patties we've sunk our teeth into in recent times.
The atmosphere at BlackSteer restaurants is amazing and a great spot for a first date - as long as she doesn't mind seeing your face covered in sticky beef basting sauce. Something that stands out, besides the red meat-heavy dish choices, is the music: Jimi Hendrix to Rodriguez with Greek folk music mixed in sets a pleasant mood. The menu spells classic steakhouse with an amazing variety of dishes. Speaking of menus, be sure to check out the cocktail menu. We had the mojitos, which packed a delicious punch.
After all of this, we suggest you cleanse the palate with a whiskey Don Pedro. The staff is helpful and super friendly which is the cherry on top of the dining experience you can expect from BlackSteer.
by Shawn Greyling
Have you been to the revamped BlackSteer? Let us know in the comments section below what you think of this brand new classic.
8-10 mint leaves
30ml simple syrup (equal parts hot water and sugar, stir it up and dissolve it)
20ml fresh lime juice
1 shot of white rum
Extra mint leaves
Chunks of lime
2 shot of soda water
Recipe inspired by Allrecipes.com
Skye Bar is located on the ninth floor at the Holiday Inn, situated in Rivonia, Sandton. The bar offers stunning panoramic views of Sandton and surrounding areas. Best views can be seen while enjoying a sundowner cocktail or two.
The décor of the bar definitely serves the eyes justice with its plush upholstered couches, classic chandeliers, and modern elements that create a timeless ambience... you can easily forget the concept of time while enjoying this luxurious venue.
Have you been here? Rate and review your experience below!
Whether you want sophisticated and chic, slinky and daring or elegant and formal, Just Gowns has the ideal match for you.
Just Gowns offer an extensive range of stunning evening dresses to hire, to suit young and old, whatever your shape and size.
Their wide range of matric, evening, cocktail, mother-of-the-bride and special occasion wear is available in sizes six to 18.
Have you been here? Rate and review your experience below.
International fashion brand, Ted Baker, celebrated their Spring/Summer 2015 “Pinch Me” collection at an intimate cocktail event earlier this month at Stuttafords Sandton City. Guests escaped into Ted’s inspiring SS15 menswear and womenswear collections, a fanciful selection that bursts into life with flashes of bold print, strong, textured fabrics and colours so vivid they may just be a pigment of your imagination.
Celebrity and VIP guests included Jen Su, Hildegardt Whites from 7de Laan, and celebrity dentist, Lex Leo. Bloggers, Crystal and Palesa from The Duo Desk, Irina Doman from I’ll Take it All and Diana Hoyos from A Girl in Africa, were dressed in the latest collection from Ted Baker on the night. Exquisite gourmet food was served by Vicky Crease Catering, while guests enjoyed cocktails from Grey Goose Vodka and a specially-designed Tedtini by Bombay Sapphire. There was also live entertainment thanks to the lovely girls from The Muses.
What To Expect With Ted Baker’s Spring/Summer 2015 Collection
Shop and escape into Ted’s stunning and summery SS15 menswear and womenswear collections, offering a selection of pieces with flashes of bold print, strong, textured fabrics and vivid colours. The womenswear collection offers a palette of paint pot tones splashed on clothing and accessories, from punchy pinks and pretty pastels to gorgeous nudes illuminated with floral motifs and modern graphic prints.
The collection captures the imagination with the colour-filled elegance of the Cascading Floral and Mirrored Tropics prints, while Distinguished Rose and Linear Nouveau gives a nostalgic feel and romantic flights of fancy. And, fantasy meets reality with their take on sports luxe, complete with metal hardwear, sequins and neoprene. Inky shades of navy and black are highlighted with pops of chartreuse, cobalt and orange that ensure a double take wherever you are.
The season’s smart-yet-stylish look includes relaxed layers, casual knitwear and refined, formal pieces, with a head-turning colour palette. Ted Baker showcases his true colours with his signature prints in camouflage and leopard printed onto accessories and footwear, and brilliant zebra and tropical motifs for that trendy wild look.
For more information
For more information, visit the Ted Baker website at www.tedbaker.com.
Ted Baker is exclusive to Stuttafords.
Photographs courtesy of Paul Shiakallis
My wife told me about this little gem the other day and from the brief description she gave me, I just knew it was going to be huge. Located along the popular Gleneagles strip in Greenside, The Greensider is Johannesburg’s new neighbourgood market joining the likes of the In 2 Fresh market in Modderfontein and the Fourways Famers Market.
Taking on a younger feel than a lot of the other markets, The Greensider boasts a stylish look with a similar pallet-heavy design as the [email protected] The walls are lined with local art and the choice of stall holders is phenomenal. You can expect the ubiquitous Balkan Burger, a stunning little fish and chips stand called Cliffe’s Fish Bar, a stand doing wraps aptly named the Wrap Shack who sell some great wraps including a falafel one for the vegetarians. Another store to take note of is Mambo Latino, a South American inspired stall serving up Argentinean, Mexican and Columbian treats and Coconut Kitchen who specialise in organic health foods for those looking to take the healthy option.
The Greensider also is home to a cocktail and craft bar where patrons can enjoy a few drinks while sampling the lovely food. Also, unlike many other markets, The Greensider has more than enough seating as well as joining onto the Mish Mash parking area, where there is more seating and where one could obviously enjoy the fabulous array of wines that Mish Mash are famous for.
It was a little quiet when I visited but I spoke to one of the stall holders who mentioned how things pick up in the evening. I enjoyed the quiet vibe but if you’re looking for something with higher energy I suggest visiting at around 17h00. They are open from Thursday to Sunday between 11h00 and 22h00 so this might even make for a great place to meet friends for a drink and some munchies after work.
Take a trip to Greenside soon, you’ll be surprised at all the new locations there at the moment and don’t forget to pop into The Greensider, my new favourite spot on the strip.
By Byron Marais
Have you been here? Rate and review your experience below!