In every great story there features an unsung hero, the sam to every frodo, the guy who stayed on the ship while Niel armstrong skipped around on the moon, The robin to to every batman...i can go on for quiet a while (I may have just exposed myself as a nerd). Anyway, the same can be said when commenting on drinks. Every second person these days is a SAVANT WHEN it comes to the latest craft GIN. Boasting about ''Detecting a hint of pepper" or a "smelling a Dash of lime"', while IGNORING the mixes, spices and unsung ingredients that, quiet frankly, make up 80% of most drinks. for the sake of complete transparency, i will admit, i was one of these misguided, yet EXTREMELY confident, individuals. Emphasis on the 'was' part of that last sentence. you see I gained enlightenment when I decided to share a flat with a lovely individual, who has a single critical flaw. She is allergic to tonic water. now before anyone gets alarmed, i will elaborate...she is not deathly allergic, but does resemble a PUFFER FISH with a severe sinus infection after having a glass. This radical, albeit highly comical, ALLERGIC reaction led me to the question, "ARE all tonics the SAME?" The answer, like many historical EPIPHANIES, came to me at a bar. I was drinking a spectacular pink gin and tonic (I live by a simple PHILOSOPHY...I see pink...I order Drink) when my flatMATE sneakily took a sip. you see, due to the unique pink colour, she had not realized she sipped a Tonic.
The realization hit her like a frisbee (ok...this in an odd simile...but i speak from experience). Feelings of regret and ANTICIPATION contorted her face in an expression that resembled a dog who had ACCIDENTALLY peed on an electric fence. My face on the OTHER HAND, smiled in satisfaction as i waited for the instant karma to bloat her face like a diabetic sumo WRESTLER. The COMICAL moment passed rather awkwardly as nothing happened. No bloated face, no watery eyes, not even the vague REDDISH tinge of skin irritation. Needless to say...we were both perplexed...That marked the start of my flatmates SLIGHTLY concerning addiction and my fascination with fitch and leedes tonic.
Of course, being the self-proclaimed INVESTIGATIVE journalist that i am, i decided to go straight to the source and meet with james and grant, the dynamic duo behind the proudly south african tonic. (people often ask me how i get these interviews...at which point i like to pretend i'm cool and say 'fake it till you make it'...in reality they are just really amazing people that are willing to give a young blogger a chance). Anyway, getting back to the facts, the story of fitch and leedes dates all the way back to the 1600s when ralph fitch and william leedes took to the high sees to seek the finest tonic in all of india. inspired by this quest for premium quality, our local brand was dubbed fitch and leedes and was stamped with a logo of the heroic vessel that carried our historic adventurers. fitch and leedes now operate with a policy of embracing local gin talent and producing a premium product that highlight the subtle intricacies of our beloved gin. As grant puts it, "Fitch and leedes is the understudy to greatness!" but before i get carried away with the philosophy driving this brand, let's get back to the products at hand. fitch and leedes have a rather large range of mixers, my interest of course lying with their two exquisite tonic products. The first, a classic indian tonic. The second (my favourite) their pink rose and cucumber tonic. but besides the indian INSPIRED brew... what makes these products special and why would this product not affect my flatmate? Well, according to grant, the secret lies in treating your product as premium in every step of production. The only way to produce a quality product, is by not cutting any corners. From the ingredients to the production to the BOTTLING, every step is taken with great care and patience.
That fact of the matter remains, tonic will always remain the supportive understudy to the prima ballerina that is gin. However, Fitch and Leedes have accepted and perfected this grossly underappreciated niche. Which is an attitude that this blog and our brand, not only supports, but honestly strives toward. This world needs more people willing to support and celebrate the unique talents of others. Moreover, we as people must accept that fact that life's spotlight will not always shine upon us. In these less GLAMOROUS moments, we, like Fitch and leedes, must still aspire to excellence. this is why i have slightly altered my PHILOSOPHY: I see Fitch and Leedes...I Order drink! (ok...so it doesn't RHYTHM) Nonetheless, the PHILOSOPHY works, because...as i came to realize, not all tonics are made the same!
"The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all!"
This is blog is a celebration of all those brands, people and places that make south africa great!