Craft Cartel – small batch heaven in Jo’burg

Craft Cartel is a liquor store with a difference. Located in the Post Office Centre in Illovo, this elegant spot is bursting with special spirits: beer, vodka, rum, gin and even wine. If it qualifies as a craft product, you will find it here.

For months I’ve followed Craft Cartel on Instagram and telling my work friends we have to pop in – especially considering that we work (I’m guessing here) less than a kilometre away. After stumbling across a Facebook event to meet the maker of Ginny Fowl on the Craft Cartel Facebook page, Andrea and I finally made the trip.

ImaGINe this

Anything your heart could desire (in terms of craft drinks) can be found right here. Of course, Andrea and I were only (mostly) interested in the gin. We’ve both been longingly looking at the wonderful darkness that is Phantom gin, but Andrea was a little reluctant to buy a whole bottle of something she didn’t know if she was going to like. And this is exactly why we should’ve visited Craft Cartel sooner.

Owner Brigitte welcomed us in and shared her wealth of knowledge about the various craft gins we tasted. There is an isle of gin (that’s what I’m going to name my house one day) where you are surrounded by juniper juice, infused with and distilled from a variety of ingredients. There are so many gins – not all locally produced. I literally don’t have words to explain to you how wonderful it is; it’s something you need to experience first-hand.

Boozy friendships

Turned out Phantom is great, but not something at the top of the list. Deciding what would be at the top of that list, is a very difficult task and requires some pondering. In the meantime, Andrea decided to take a lonely-looking bottle of Monks Mary Jane gin home and to keep it company until we got back to the office, a Little Wolf Hibiscus cider for me. Aside from the cider having a lovely label, it is delicious! A little dry, not too sweet and, it turns out, a great match for spicy dishes (shout-out to Smoke Daddy’s Bayou Jambalaya). It’s another pink drink I’m now extremely fond of.


Two days later Andrea and I were back to enjoy some Ginny Fowl gin and chatting to the maker while snacking on perfectly-paired nibbles. Make sure you follow Craft Cartel on Facebook to stay up to date on the events they host. But maybe, more importantly, you need to step into that little wonder.


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