Caitlin Hill has been part of the bar industry since 2012, when she stumbled upon a job as a cocktail waitress at Orphanage Cocktail Emporium in Cape Town. She has come a long way since then, thanks to her passion for cocktails and the spirits. After two years of being South Africa’s Gin Queen, running the show at Mother’s Ruin and working behind the bar, she took on the position as Niche Brands Ambassador for Remy Cointreau in South Africa. A firm believer in ‘loving what you do and having a lasting impact while doing what you love’, Hill leads her life on the go. In a chat with Shalini Kumar, she shares her journey.
Caitlin Hill minces no words while talking about her life as a global brand ambassador. ‘I am living my dream. I can never imagine doing anything other than travelling the world and sharing my passion with people.’ Sharing her learnings from the industry which she entered in 2012, she says, ‘The biggest learning is to always have an open mind and consume as much knowledge and information as you can.’ Further, defining her role as a brand ambassador, she says, ‘The idea is to share my passion for the spirits I represent by educating and sharing the stories and unique characteristics of these incredible brands with people.’
While elaborating on the USP of the brands she represents, The Botanist and Bruichladdich Islay Malt, she explains, ‘The first and only Islay Dry gin conceived, distilled and hand-crafted at the Bruichladdich Distillery, The Rhinns, Isle of Islay is distinctive for its augmentation of the nine classical gin aromatics with a further 22 locally picked wild Islay botanicals. The Classic Laddie, part of the Bruichladdich range, is crafted by Master Distiller Adam Hannett from individually selected casks that showcase the classic floral and elegant, unpeated Bruichladdich house style. It is our signature bottling and the definitive Bruichladdich.’
As a gin queen, Hill obviously has had a very interesting journey and is therefore one of the best people to advise anyone wanting to make a mark in the industry. ‘My advice would be to follow your passion, believe in yourself, be confident and never be afraid to ask for more information if you don’t know something, or if you want to further your knowledge of something,’ says Hill with conviction.
Ask her what she would have been had she not been a brand ambassador, forager or a world class mixologist and pat comes the reply, ‘I think I would have probably done something in photo journalism, as I studied photography for a while before I studied fashion design. I might have also continued my stint as a chef as I love food.’
But there’s one question that Hill finds difficult to answer and that is about the place where she would like to unwind. ‘That’s a tough call to take, being based in South Africa. There are lots of lovely small towns, vineyards and wineries here. But basically I love being somewhere outdoors where there is a water source and being disconnected from technology, just being with my friends and family and having good drinks and great food.’
Finally, here’s Hill’s favourite recipes from the Botanist and Bruichladdich range, ‘With the Botanist, my favourite drink to have is:
Corpse Reviver #2; it’s my favourite gin cocktail. It’s got The Botanist Gin, Cointreau and dry Vermouth. I like half a shot of fresh lemon and half a shot of fresh lime and a dash of absinthe. In South Africa we have a botanical, which is African wormwood; I would like to make a syrup out of that which gives a foraged element to it.
With the Classic Laddie, I love having a twist on a Highball, a classic Scotch cocktail. So, Classic Laddie, fresh lemon and roasted plum syrup, shaken served on a rock and topped up with soda, would be great.’