Just gin and bear it: A teetotaller’s review of the Johannesburg Gin & Tonic Festival

Johannesburg gin and tonic festival

On 30 November the Gin & Tonic Festival 2019 took place at Victoria Yards in Lorentzville. If you’ve never heard of Victoria Yards, it’s an arts complex located in a gentrified building in one of those areas near the Joburg CBD that people who own cars only travel to in ubers. 

Taken from the uber:

The property is home to a lot of craft centres and art galleries that exhibit things like this: 

Victoria Yards, South Africa

Like its sister property, 44 Stanley (a lot closer to the north), this is the type of place where one can expect to hear words like ‘artisanal’ 'craft' and ‘bespoke’ a lot. (Have I mentioned how much I dislike the word ‘bespoke’ and its constant misuse? #bespokeismymoist) I also dislike it when people use the word 'boutique' as an adjective instead of a noun.

Gin festival, Victoria Yards

So, why the heck would a teetotaller go to an “elaborate celebration of craft gin culture”, a “gateway to the diverse local landscape of boutique gins”?  Well, I’m an extrovert who works from home. People always blog about the challenges faced by introverts.  I have #extrovertproblems . I need to be where the people are. (I’m also an advocate for non-tanning and my other friends, who decided to go to Large on the Lawn that day, couldn’t guarantee me shade.) 

What I liked about it:

  • The shimmery gin that looked like a lava lamp when you tipped the bottle upside down. One variety even had edible glitter in it! 
  • The free gin glass I got with admission. (I will use it for Appletiser!)
  • The people-watching.
  • Objectifying promotions people:
  • And the lemonade from the Mexican food truck. (In all fairness if I had looked hard enough I probably could have found some alcohol-free gin, because being a teetotaller is becoming super trendy at the moment. However, it probably would have been too ‘craft’, ‘artisanal’ and ‘bespoke’ for my tastes! (See, that’s totally the wrong use of the word ‘bespoke’!)


What I didn’t like about it:

  • The fake indoor plants:
  • No free gin in the free gin glass (that I would not have drunk anyway, but still!)
  • The fact that a lot of the bespoke artisanal craft shops and art galleries were closed.
  • And finally, the fact that there were no Mexicans in the Mexican food truck.

Would I go next year? Probably. 

My teetotaller at a brewery face
(Pilsen, Czech Republic, 2011)

My teetotaller at a distillery face
(Nassau, Bahamas, 2014)

My teetotaller at a gin festival face
(Johannesburg, South Africa, 2019)



About the Sharonicles

The Sharonicles is a travel humour blog by a location-independent South African travel writer. After five years as a cruise ship crew member, Sharon is now trying to adjust to life on land with itchy feet. (That is an expression but cruise ships will literally give you Athletes Foot, just FYI.) Born and raised in Johannesburg, she is now exploring her new home city of Cape Town (and hopefully a number of more land-locked locations throughout the rest of the world too).

Here she shares advice, opinions and anecdotes revealing the funny side of travel from her experiences on five continents and a number of seas.

She also photographs a plastic flamingo called 'Rodrigo' on her travels because it seemed like a good idea ten years ago and 54 countries later, it’s probably too late to turn back now.

To find out more about Sharon and Rodrigo’s travel aspirations read this.

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