AA Badenhorst’s recent launch of Caperitif was the winner of our recent Winelands Innovation Award for the Marketing Category. It’s no secret that they’re doing amazing things but we were able to sit down with self proclaimed “cousin who does the Marketing and ‘web stuff,” Helena Sheridan to get the real story behind the amazing and seemingly effortless brand that the AA Badenhorst has created.

What was the inspiration for the label and packaging for Caperitif? 

Caperitif was first made in the Cape at the turn of the previous century. During the gold and diamond rush years in SA, it was a very prominent and popular product both locally and internationally. We wanted the brand and packaging to be true to the Cape of the old days but with a modern, fresh, 21st-century twist or two while still fitting into our range of products and our brands.

What made you want to expand outside of wine?

We had never heard of Caperitif (or thought to make vermouth) when Danish mixologist Lars Lyndgaard approached us with the idea of reviving The Ghost Ingredient. When Adi heard the story about this long forgotten Cape legend he was immediately interested and we started experimenting.

Where does the recipe for Caperitif come from?

There is no recipe… Between Lars, Adi and Kyle they started playing around with a Chenin blanc base and lots of interesting fynbos and citrus to come up with a product we all like. Let’s just say it involved a lot of tastings. Every bottle will have a batch number (L1, L2… we are currently on L4 with L5 in the making) and every batch will inevitably taste different, depending on the time of year the infusions are picked, what the dominant flavours are etc.

Only once we were already on batch 3 did Lars come upon three bottles of the original stuff on auction in London. We can now get this tested and tasted to see how far we are off from the original…

How has the Caperitif helped differentiate your brand in the marketplace?

Adi has always done interesting, slightly whacky projects on the side. The Caperitif though puts us on an entirely different shelve in the bottle store and into bars where wine does not really feature, and that is exciting.

Who do you see as the main customers of Caperitif and the Swaan Tonic?

Once people try it and understand it they love it and buy bottles and bottles of the stuff. Our biggest focus for Caperitif, however, has been on getting mixologists and barmen in niche cocktail bars to use the product in their recipes. We are very honoured that Cape Town’s new Outrage of Modesty will always feature a Caperitif cocktail on their menu.

For Swaan there is a lot of interest from bush lodges, guesthouses and hotels wanting to serve their visitors authentic South African Tonic.

Do you have any other projects coming out soon?

Adi and Vincent Careme are working together on a Method Ancestral, we are hoping to find the perfect outlet for our Pyl Uil beers and soon the Swaan Tonic will be in 200ml cans!

Taste the Caperitif on the Secretive Swartland Tour

Go far off the beaten track and into the cellars of South Africa’s most unique wineries

Articles you may also like: