The words drought, Day Zero, and water crisis have become synonymous with Cape Town and South Africa, for obvious reasons.
The drought crisis has done more than just raise awareness about water conservation, it has also forced leading food and drink experts to tap into their creativity and find ways to reduce their use of this precious commodity in their elegant foods and fine drinks.
Always on top the latest food trends, chef Luke Dale Roberts and his team have come up with creative measures to save water at his award-winning restaurant, The Test Kitchen.
Roberts, who also owns The Shortmarket Club in Cape Town and Luke Dale Roberts X The Saxon in Johannesburg, has always been at the forefront of bringing dishes to life.
In April, The Test Kitchen will introduce a reduced-water dining experience which will run for two months until the end of May.
At The Drought Kitchen, a pop-up at The Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Roberts and his team will come up with creative ways to use less water throughout the restaurant.
He said: “I’ve had to re-evaluate how we approach what we do in the kitchen and the restaurant.”
“From preparation to plating, service to clean-up, everything is impacted by using less water. It’s been an eye-opener, for sure.”
Serving dishes on empty picture frames with an interchangeable card, which serves as a disposable plate is just one of the ways the Test Kitchen is looking to save water.
Other masters of their craft who have come up with ways to use less water are the makers of Pienaar and Son gin. The local producers launched a “Drought Edition” of their two existing gin brands earlier this week.
The master distiller and “the son in Pienaar and Son” Andre Pienaar, said their new edition is “exactly the same” as the gins they have been producing.
“For every bottle of drought edition we produce, we save about half a litre of water. This idea was born when I was diluting gin and realised I was using copious amounts of water. Our drought edition is the exact same (as our original gins). We are just changing the behaviour,” he says.
“That’s what made me want to do it. We don’t have to change much of what we are doing to put it out there, the gin is just served differently,” Pienaar said.
The alcohol content is a staggering 80% compared to the standard 43% alcohol volume in gin.
“What a lot of people don’t know is, when you make gin it comes out much higher than 43% anyway, it comes out well above 70% alcohol per volume.
“To get it to your 43% bottling strength, you just (dilute it with) a whole lot of water.”
Pienaar suggested serving the waterless gin as a single to get the equivalent of a double shot of gin.
“Very few people drink gin neat, so when you are pouring a glass of Drought Edition, you just have to pour less of it. It’s the same amount of flavour and alcohol as you would have with a double shot of gin, but just in a single shot. There is also no difference in taste,” he said.
I was keen to try the new edition and also to see if I could spot the difference in taste, so I did a blind taste.
One glass had a double serving of gin with the usual 43% alcohol volume, while the other was a single serving of the Drought Edition.
Each of the drinks were mixed with Fitch and Leedes Indian Tonic and two slices of grapefruit each.
I could not tell the difference in taste; however, after very careful inspection of both glasses I noticed a difference in colour, with the waterless gin looking a little cloudier.
Pienaar says they had produced only 180 bottles of the new gin, but they would produce more, depending on consumer demand.
The new gin can be bought through the website www.pienaarandson.co.za.