With its wooden and terracotta-tiled pool deck, emerald-green glass-panelled swimming pool, and views of whitewashed heritage buildings, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in the heart of Marrakesh. But this is the Mother City, downtown, on the sixth floor of the new super-cool design-led hotel, Gorgeous George.
This week the hotel officially opened its indoor/outdoor rooftop bar and restaurant, Gigi Rooftop, with its drinks menu designed by South Africa’s very own Jody Rahme, a finalist in several world bartending championships and a former manager at Johannesburg’s popular Sin+Tax.
Rahme manages bar operations at Gigi Rooftop, while executive chef Guy Bennett serves up his fresh take on modern classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“The heart of Gorgeous George, and Gigi Rooftop in particular, is community,” says Rahme. “It’s where a melting pot of well-travelled, storied creatives meet with local powerhouses to have fun. It’s a rich blend of art, culture, romance and intrigue, so it’s only natural that our cocktail menu reflects that adventurous, playful colour, vibrancy and truly global craftsmanship.”
With seating for up to 80, inside and out, the bar offers a delectable fusion of modern and classic tiki-bar-inspired drinks. “It’s tiki dressed up,” says Rahme of his menu, “with very playful, exotic flavours served in an adventurous but super-chic, elegant way.”
George of the Jungle is bourbon based, blended with super-premium gin, pineapple spekboom tepache, Italian liqueur and African ginger and strawberry syrup. Carrot Me Away is a powerful twist of flavours and aromas: roasted carrot juice, mango cordial and beer vermouth shaken with premium American bourbon. El Pulque, paying homage to the rough and unvarnished agave frontrunner, is a combination of barrel-aged tequila mixed with gluhwein and housemade coconut oil liqueur to give it a smooth, sophisticated finish.
As with the hotel’s overall concept and interiors, local culture and nuance add substance and texture to Rahme’s creations. For instance, Isiqhingi (‘island’ in Zulu) is a sweet fruity rum shaken with tropical vermouth, passionfruit chardonnay, peach cider, caramelised-lime juice and orange-lavender bitters served in a beautifully rounded ceramic bowl. And Pennywise, a tribute to local bourbon brand ambassador Lauren Penny, is bourbon shaken with fresh espresso, woodchip Campari, vanilla infused herbal liqueur and topped with marshmallow foam – “It’s absolutely sumptuous,” Rahme says.
Rahme has used ingredients that aren’t only tasty but also have health benefits. Glam Canina, for instance, is “unglorified rum flipped on its head”, shaken with pineapple pesto, curry verjuice and a Christmas spice maraschino liqueur. Green Elixir, meanwhile, is made with a pioneering local craft gin, fresh celery juice and fortified sweet Italian wine, infused with herbs and sweet floral botanicals and toasted lemon.
The classics haven’t been forgotten, with the Negroni (gin, vermouth and Campari, garnished with orange peel), the Boulevardier (a variation of the Negroni, with bourbon replacing the gin) and the French 75 (gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar, with the kick of a WWI French 75mm field gun) all appearing on the menu.
Gorgeous George forms part of German-headquartered global luxury hotel group Design Hotels, a hand-selected collection of 300 privately owned and operated hotels in more than 50 countries around the world. Design Hotels properties are known for world-class sophistication, expressed in stunning interior design and architecture with a strong local flavour, and superb hospitality.
Gigi Rooftop is open for bookings. For further information, please visit http://www.gorgeousgeorge.co.za or call 087 898 6000.