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9 places to get your gin fix in Durban

Cool down in the balmy East Coast city of Durban at these restaurants and bars with excellent gin selections.

031 Distillery (Morningside)

This Durban-based gin and spirit distillery knows what it’s doing when it comes to making good sippers. While the restaurant is closed for the time being due to expansions, the distillery tours and tastings are still open for business. Try the Durban Dry gin made in the classic London Dry style with 10 botanicals, including African rosehip, or taste the D’Urban Barrel Aged gin. The latter is a first for SA gins and is aged in French oak barrels for a toasted almond finish. The O31 team also produces their own lemon and tonic cordials to pair with your choice of gin.

The working distillery at 031 Bar and Restaurant. Photo supplied.

Alchemy at Blackstrap Craft Distillery (Ballito)

This sneaky little gin bar has opened up in Blackstrap Craft Distillery at Ballito’s buzzing Lifestyle Centre. The bar celebrates all things gin and stocks a huge range of locally produced craft gins. The menu features house combos, cocktails and DIY drinks. Try the signature Alchemist cocktail made with Six Dogs Blue gin, Fitch & Leedes Indian tonic and garnishes of blueberries and strawberries. Or try the Singapore Gisky with Blind Tiger gin, ginger ale, fresh ginger and lime. If you’d rather pick your own poison, the menu offers over 50 different kinds of gin. Keep hunger at bay with fresh dishes like spicy prawn bowls with ginger, garlic, chilli and lime.

The Chefs Table (Umhlanga)

While chef Kayla-Ann Osborn keeps diners happy with beautiful, seasonal plates, mixologist Lamoure Benton mans the gorgeous bar with creative cocktails. The team tries to keep things seasonal on the drinks side of things, which means that garnishes will change as the seasons do. Look forward to gins like 031 Durban Gin, Hendricks, Whitley Neill Protea and Hibiscus, Hope on Hopkins and Ginologist Floral. Lamoure also concocts craft G&Ts, offering options like Musgrave Pink with strawberry and thyme infusion; 031 Durban gin with a chilli and coriander infusion; and Inverroche classic gin with rooibos, and a honey and cinnamon infusion.

Fourteen on Chartwell (Umhlanga)

This bar is the focal point of Umhlanga Village. Sip on their signature giant G&Ts made with Bombay Sapphire, featuring fun flavours like yuzu and rosemary or hibiscus mint and pink tonic. You can also create your own gin-based drink with craft spirits such as Inverroche, 031 Durban Dry gin, Musgrave Pink, or Tanqueray 10. Sit at the bar or grab one of the trendy booths and enjoy one of the chef’s platters, or have gourmet pub grub like lobster mac ’n cheese.

A refreshing gin and tonic at Fourteen on Chartwell. Photo supplied.

Loaf Café & Gin Bar (Ballito)

The popular daytime café located at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre transforms into a buzzing little gin bar by night. Sip on colourful cocktails made with gins like Bombay Sapphire, Durban 031, Wilderer Fynbos, Triple Three and Musgrave. Flavour combos include blueberries with basil, grapefruit with rosemary, burnt orange with cinnamon, and many more. Fill up on tapas-style plates like crispy calamari with homemade mayo, garlic butter prawn skewers, or mini beef sliders.

Republik (Durban North and Hillcrest)

Head to this neighbourhood burger bar for good gourmet buns and a decent selection of beers, wine and gin. The gin collection section of the menu features popular labels like Tanqueray and Inverroche, as well as some exciting options like Six Dogs blue gin and Ginologist Citrus. Soak up the gin party with a DIY burger or go for the signature option, consisting of a pepper-encrusted beef patty topped with a waffle and chips, and served with their famous hollandaise sauce.

The Secret Gin Bar at Mamma Luciana’s (Glenashley)

This pop-up gin bar is at its third location after successful stints at Lupa Osteria and Station Drive Precinct. The next pop-up will be at Mamma Luciana’s in Glenashley for the month of February, when the bar will be transformed into a secret garden for gin lovers. You’ll find over 35 local and international gins, as well as interesting tonics and cocktails. Labels might include Bulldog, Malfy, Hope on Hopkins, Musgrave and Botanist. You can also DIY your own tipple with garnishes of grapefruit, rosemary, curry leaves and cinnamon quills. Pizzas and pastas from Mama Luciana’s kitchen will appease the hunger pangs.

The Shed (Salt Rock)

The Litchi Orchard venue for this laid-back eatery lends itself to long lazy lunches. The bar is cleverly equipped with gin from Standheaven Brewery on tap. Combinations include lemon and mint, blueberry and thyme, grapefruit and cinnamon, and kiwi and mint. You can also order your favourite flavour by the jug, or sip on other local gin brands like Wilderer Fynbos gin or 031 Durban Dry gin.

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Surf Riders Café (Addington Beach)

Settle in for a post-beach G&T with the impressive selection at this surf shack. Pair your burger, poké bowl or pizza with gin cocktails made from your choice of spirit. The excellent offering includes bottles from Woodstock Gin Co., Ginologist, New Harbour Distillery, Clemengold, Musgrave, and Inverroche. Sip on yours with garnishes of watermelon, pineapple, and even chilli for an extra kick. Alternatively, you can order a gin-and-tonic tasting board to pick your favourite combo. The Surf Riders team also hosts Taphouse Fridays in partnership with Tanqueray.

Gin cocktails at Surf Riders. Photo supplied.

Have we missed your favourite gin spot? Let us know in the comments below.

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