Opening the first independent distillery in the City of Sydney in more than a century and a half is not without its challenges.
"There was no one alive at the council who had dealt with a request for a distillery before," Archie Rose co-owner Will Edwards says. "You put in the application and they go, 'Bloody hell, what's this?'."
Archie Rose opens to the public on Wednesday, March 18 in the same block of Rosebery occupied by Black Star Pastry and Kitchen by Mike. Edwards and business partners Joe Dinsmoor, Nigel Weisbaum and Dave Withers are producing gin, vodka and whisky that can be purchased by the bottle at the distillery door (and soon online) or consumed on site at an attractive copper bar. Spirits are available neat, in a cocktail or in a tasting flight.
But it's not just Archie Rose spirits available at the bar. Not by any length.
"We wanted to take our time stocking the bar and find some stuff that's a bit more challenging to get hold off," Edwards says.
This means bottles such as Monkey 47 gin, Ole Smoky Moonshine, Belgrove rye from Tasmania, and, quite spectacularly, new-release whisky from Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery in Kentucky. Van Winkle whisky is like hen's teeth in Australia, with many high-end bars and bottle shops competing to stock just one bottle of it.
"The guys [from Van Winkle] came in and liked our story, liked our set up, and they said you can have all nine bottles if you like," Edwards says.
A wine list has been designed by sommelier James Audus, an old school-friend of Edwards who spent 18 months on the floor at Copenhagen's Noma, and, more recently, LP's Quality Meats. It's heavy on natural and biodynamic drops from Australian winemakers like Si Vintners, Uncle Zelo, and Frederick Stevenson.
If you're keen for a bite to eat with your bourbon or Brash Higgins zibibbo, tasting boards will be available from neighbouring cafes such as Black Star, who can send over a platter of prosciutto, roast beef, aged cheddar, salsa verde, pickles, a miche roll and aged mustard made in-house using Archie Rose product.
With Newtown beer brewery Young Henry's set to launch its own brand of gin in April, this could be the start of a new era in Sydney distilling. Bottoms up.
85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, (02) 8458 2300, daily midday-10pm
As part of Spectrum Now, Archie Rose is inviting Sydneysiders to tour the distillery and create their own take-home gin. Visit the Spectrum Now website for further information and tickets.