Winner of Concrete Playground's Best New Bar of 2015.
While craft beer has long been the toast of the town, 26-year-old Sydney entrepreneur Will Edwards has gone against the grain to open Sydney's first distillery since 1853. A bold move for someone who's as old as a bottle of scotch himself. The newly opened Archie Rose Distillery allows you to explore the time-honoured tradition of hand-crafted spirits, and coupled with delicious eats by Black Star Pastry, I wouldn't wait a day longer.
Located behind Kitchen by Mike in Rosebery, The Archie Rose Distillery bar has an impressive old-world fit-out. The central showpiece is their shiny copper bar, which is surrounded by distilling apparatus, a wall of caged casks and barrel-inspired booth seating. The chatty bartenders will guide you through each drop, detailing the processes involved and some fascinating background info. It's a shame you'll have little recollection of it the morning after.
The Archie Rose Flight ($15) is the introductory course, which allows you to get acquainted with the three holy spirits: vodka, gin and whiskey. Your Flight is served in inward-curving Glencairn glasses, and you're given an eyedropper of distilling-grade filtered water to add to your glass drop by drop to open up the flavours. Yep, you've been doing it wrong all this time.
There's no need to poise yourself for an epic throat burn; these spirits are designed to be sipped, and you'll be surprised how clean and refined the flavours are. The twice-distilled white rye is smooth and creamy with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, while the vodka has fresh notes of crisp apple and mint. For the gin junkies, the Archie Rose signature dry gin includes Australian native botanicals such as blood limes, Dorrigo pepperleaf and native river mint, which create a remarkable spectrum of flavours.
The Archie Rose Distillery appreciates that not everyone enjoys drinking straight vodka, so they also offer cocktails and mixers that rely on hand-produced sodas and bespoke syrups. The Bark and the Bees ($19) is a real beauty, combining white rye, lemon and fresh honey from Kitchen by Mike's beehives with a fragment of Cassia bark for bite.
The classic mixers have also had a shake-up. Instead of ginger ale, there's Blackstrap molasses ginger syrup, while tonic water has been replaced with bush tonic syrup made from lemon myrtle, local honey, quinine, lemon and juniper berries. At just $8.50, they're an absolute steal.
In neighbourly fashion, Black Star Pastry has supplied tasty ploughman's platters ($27). The sharing board includes roast beef, prosciutto, vintage cheddar, cornichons, basil dip and home-baked bread, or there's a vegan and gluten-free version with chargrilled vegetables, roulade and beetroot dip.
If you're looking to lift your spirits, there's no question that Archie Rose Distillery serves the best tipple in town.