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Sydney Gin Team Unexpected Guest Has Opened a Community-Focused Distillery Bar in Marrickville

Located in the centre of the Marrickville brewery crawl, this new gin bar is all about bright colours and community spirit.
By Ben Hansen
October 04, 2023
By Ben Hansen
October 04, 2023

A local Sydney gin distillery has placed itself right in the mix of the Marrickville brewery crawl with a colourful new bar. Unexpected Guest started as a passion project on the Northern Beaches and quickly picked up steam, building a cult fanbase for its vibrant orange Kombi that would operate as a portable bar at weddings and events. Now, the team has picked up and moved to the Inner West, opening a playful distillery bar just a couple hundred metres from The Bob Hawke Beer and Leisure Centre, Batch Brewing Company and Baba's Place.

"We really played that waiting game because we wanted to be in Marrickville. We wanted to be amongst the breweries," says Communications Manager Carl McEvoy. "We want people to jump in, have a drink, learn about our gins and then move to another distillery, or move to a brewery, or go out for dinner. We love that culture."

The new bar is decorated with Unexpected Guest's signature shade of orange and the four fun characters that appear on the front of the distillery's four varieties of gin. You'll also find the beloved Kombi parked down the back when it's not away at events. If you're lucky, you might even head in on a day when DJs have set up on its tow tray to provide the day's soundtrack.

Alongside the splashes of colour around the bar, the bathroom has also been given a flashy makeover.

"It was quite a feat, but we have made everything about those bathrooms hot pink," explains McEvoy. "This place was a mechanic workshop, and then it got turned into a gym, and now it's a distillery, but it was just like the most economical bathrooms, just for gym members. So turning them into fun bathrooms for a distillery was so much work."

Catering to groups big and small, the distillery boasts a classic selection of drinks to showcase the crew's wares. There's a $20 tasting flight, a series of gin and tonics, and a standout cocktail to pair with each of the four gins on offer. The Young Tom's Bathtub Gin is paired with yuzushu and soda for a sleek take on a tom collins, for instance, while the Disco Flamingo's Pink Gin is transformed with Gelato Messina lemon sorbet and sparkling wine in the I Scream and Squawk cocktail.

Gin-averse visitors who have wandered in with their spirit-loving friends can opt for Green Vineyards wine, Willie the Boatman beers or Strangelove non-alcoholic ginger beer.

"We've had a really nice introduction to the breweries around us. And, when we chatted with them, we thought it was a little bit moot to sell their beer," continues McEvoy. "So, we talked to Willie the Boatman, who's sort of just out of our area, and they were really keen because it meant the people that were coming to us weren't necessarily going to go all the way over to them."

Venture further down the menu, and you'll discover a refined list of bar snacks featuring gin nuts, olives, taramasalata and truffle salami. There's also a basque cheesecake sourced from A.P Bakery and paired with a raspberry gin coulis — perfect for a group nightcap where everyone leans in for a spoonful of dessert.

Adding to the community energy of Unexpected Guest, the menu concludes with a suppliers list so you can source your own yuzushu or gelato, and a selection of beloved breweries, distilleries and restaurants nearby for anyone looking to kick on.

Unexpected Guest is located at 12 Cadogan Street, Marrickville. The distillery bar is open 3–8pm Thursday–Friday, 12–8pm Saturday and 12–6pm Sunday.

Images: Daniel Kukec.

Published on October 04, 2023 by Ben Hansen
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