Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Caperitif Cacophony - Adi Badenhorst launches Caperitif

This was a relaunch, not of a wine but of an historic aperitif: Caperitif, known since the early part of the 20th Century. It was held on Adi Badenhorst's Swartland farm Kalmoesfontein on Guy Fawkes day. Not a glass of wine in sight, we spent the day tasting first Rooibos Caperitea, listening to entertaining talks by Adi, Wim Tijmens, Dave Hughes and Lars-Erik Schmidt. Time then for a horizontal tasting of the five different batches released so far of this great aperitif and then five different expertly mixed cocktails. We just sipped, honestly. This was followed by a fun retro lunch prepared by Adi's rather well known mother, talented chef Judy Badenhorst, who used to run the River Cafe restaurant on Constantia Uitsig. What a celebration!
During the rambunctious, hedonistic eras when the South African Gold Rush took place and Johannesburg was founded in the 1880's, there was lots of spending, celebrating, dancing and drinking. Caperitif, a genuine South African product, was born. It's a vermouth-like aperitif made from wine, fortified with alcohol and infused with Quinchona bark and aromatics, which can be served on its own over ice, with a slice of lemon and a mixer or in cocktails. Back then cocktails named the Barney Barnato, the Modder Rivier and the Oom Paul were created. This aperitif also inspired barmen all over the world and it became an ingredient in many famous cocktails, written about and used in many famous cocktail books, like the Savoy's. But then in about 1910 it disappeared, along with the company who made it and more importantly, the recipe. It became known as the Ghost ingredient. But some ancient bottles do still exist
In 2014 Lars-Erik Schmidt, a Danish mixologist, approached Adi Badenhorst and together they have recreated a 21st century version. They use Chenin Blanc fortified with spirit, gently sweetened by the sugar of the grapes, bittered by Quinchona bark and flavoured with some 35 truly Cape ingredients such as fynbos, kalmoes and naartjies (tangerines) and they make a dry tonic, Swaan, to go with it. Its ingredients are spring water with natural botanicals – quinine, lime, cardamom and mint, with thankfully less sugar
Bread, butter and apricot jam , a traditional country starter served with the Rooibos Caperitea
Dave Hughes, Andre Badenhorst and Adi Badenhorst
In the cellar where they make the Caperitif
Every guest was given this box filled with some of the aromatics, essences and infusions that go into it. Plus a sample
Speeches about to start
Swartland winemaker Eben Sadie
Adie tells us about the journey
Dave Hughes gives us the history of Caperitif
A large audience
Wim Tijmens has travelled the world hunting for plants. He spent more than 35 years as curator of the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden (1962 – 1999). He spoke very amusingly about edible plants, fynbos, and the ingredients that go into Caperitif.
He is quite a character. It was very informative
Lars-Erik Schmidt, the Danish mixologist, told us of the chance meeting with Adi Badenhorst and how they eventually got together to recreate Caperitif
The Swartland vines, wheat and barley fields at the beginning of summer, from the farmhouse
The cellar with its historic vats
Some of the different batches of Caperitif
The vat with one of our favourite wines made by Adi Badenhorst, his 2016 Secateurs SB? Yes, above all!
The children helped out collecting the empty glasses. Here Chef Margot Janse chats to her son Jan Hendrik (wearing the hat)
Nice smile!
Grandfather Badenhorst, André, supervising
Many of the ingredients are grown in the farm vegetable and herb gardens
Chef Margot enjoying the sunshine and the day
Getting to the cocktails under the grape arbour
The boys doing a great job shaving ice for the cocktails
One of the five cocktail stations
This was the Jabberwock: 1/3 Gin, 1/3 dry sherry, 1/3 Caperitif, 2 dashes orange bitters
The back of the bottle has a story
Lunch would be on the stoep. Herbs hung to keep away the flies
Retro canapés come out. Oysters Rockefeller. We also had Devils on horseback (bacon wrapped prunes), stuffed eggs and superb mushroom vol au vents with buttery crackly melting pastry. Time to bring some of these back. Perhaps not the pineapple cheese though
Another cocktail being served, the Barney Barnato
Dave Hughes amused at the pineapple and cheese porcupine from his past
We were given coasters with the cocktail recipes
A basket full of ingredients
Another cocktail recipe using Caperitif
The makings
This was the horizontal tasting of the 5 batches. Lynne tasted them all and they were quite different, but all good. 1 had notes of cinnamon and vanilla and lime. 2 Rose water Mum's face powder, cinnamon, marmalade , lime, sweeter and more bitter. 3. Citrus, cats pee, herbs, crisp juicy yellow berries, nice acidity and good bitter/sweet balance. 4. Herbal, fenugreek, curry leaf, sour citrus, cinnamon, clove, sweet with Noble Late Harvest characteristics, bitter wood and a toasty end. Very much the favourite of the day by most people. And very like sweet Vermouth. 5 is herbal with cloves, sharp citrus, and a nice buzz of alcohol
Sommelier Ewan McKenzie inspecting at the infusions
Very friendly farm dog with fantastic eyebrows, exhausted by all the attention
The front stoep. All the action was happening in the kitchen beyond
A beetroot jelly, coleslaw, potato salad topped with radishes
a cucumber jelly and super tender ham with pineapple rings, cherries and a soft mustard sauce. Very satisfying food
A pistachio and pork terrine - absolutely fabulous. Not sure we are ready for the savoury moulded jellies....
Help yourself from the buffet
Jan Boland Coetzee enjoying a Jan Smuts cocktail
The recipe
Lemons and cloves to keep away the flies
Adi explaining the cocktails and how the Caperitif was recreated
Barista Sasha Petras from Milk and Honey on the East Side in Manhattan NY showed us how to make a cocktail for the masses in a large enamel bowl. They want to grow the cocktail consuming crowd. In the 1930s, there were 1700 recipes. The definitive book is the Savoy Hotel Cocktail book
Pouring into the coupe glasses. His best advice; serve cold but keep the ice in the mixer, not in the glass
Organiser PRO Ann Ferreira talking to Eben Sadie
Sitting down to lunch
We had to leave just as these profiteroles were being served
A very busy Judy Badenhorst says Bye!
A picture postcard view of the Swartland from a farm window
Secret formulae? Cat looking on
Farm horses and a pony, allowed out as the guests leave
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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