Steel yourself for some seriously heavy drinking, Sydney. You're about to get your first new commercial distillery in more than 160 years. Set to open their doors on Wednesday, March 18, the Archie Rose Distilling Company will bottle and sell a selection of home-brewed sprits, while doubling as an eat-in bar.
The distillery will operate out of a refurbished warehouse in Rosebery, just down the block from the likes of Da Mario, Black Star Pastry and Kitchen by Mike. While their food menu is yet to be released, their drink options will include gin, vodka and rye whisky — all of which will be made on site.
According to Archie Rose's website, the last distillery serving Sydney closed in 1853, which sort of begs the question: why hasn't anyone thought to resurrect this clearly awesome practice sooner? Archie Rose co-owner Will Edwards told Good Food it has to do with stringent government legislation – presumably intended to keep unsavoury characters from cooking up moonshine in their bathtubs.
Keep in mind that Australia has a long, proud history of illicit hoochery, dating all the way back to the first settlement. In 1796, NSW Governor John Hunter expressed concern over the increasing number of "illicit distilleries of spirituous liquors" that he feared would shortly "ruin the good health of the settlement." Booze was so rampant at one stage that we were actually using rum as a form of currency. Although in retrospect, that actually doesn't sound too bad.
In any case, boutique breweries (legal ones) have enjoyed a resurgence in recent times, with operators in Tasmania leading the way. Four Pillars have been distilling gin in their Yarra Valley home for years. Combination distillery restaurants have also proven popular in the United States. Here's hoping Archie Rose enjoys similar good fortune.
Find Archie Rose at 61 Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery. For access to the bar, enter via 85 Dunning Avenue (around the block). Distillery hours and tours are by appointment only, but the bar is open seven days a week, midday - 10pm.