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Using local ingredients in cocktails

The Fabulous Five: Using local ingredients in your cocktails

When is comes to local flavour, South Africa is second to none. And with both the summer and festive season in full swing, we thought we’d put some of our favourites to good use … at the bar. We chatted to Luke Whearty from Outrage of Modesty to find out how.

Num-num berries
These have a tart sweetness to them and can be used in a variety of ways. One technique is to macerate the unripe berries by throwing them in a jar with some brandy, sugar and a mix of different spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise and vanilla work well). Give it a month or so and you’ll have brandied num-nums – great in a Manhattan!

Fennel pollen
The pollen has a star-anise flavour, similar to the seeds, but it is softer and more fragrant. It’s great for infusing into cocktails as a substitute for absinthe, for a more floral touch.

Local brandy
The brandy in Cape Town is world-class. Use it to replace cognac in a Harvard by mixing 45 ml brandy with 30 ml vermouth and two or three dashes of bitters, shaking with ice and then topping up with soda water.

Beer and Champagne yeast
You can find this at any local brew shop. It’s great when fermenting cocktails at home. As a general rule, anything with sugar will ferment, and when yeast is added, it speeds up the process. Yeast also creates fantastic, 100%-natural carbonated drinks.

This is a local vermouth that is probably some of the best we’ve tasted in the past two years. It is amazing with fresh citrus and soda.

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