2A Old Lilydale Road Healesville, Victoria 3777
|Opening hours||Sun-Thu, 10.30am-5.30pm, Fri-Sat, 10.30am-9pm|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Phone||03 5962 2791|
Better rope in a designated driver if you're visiting Four Pillars' handsome new Healesville headquarters – a measure of gin and a trip down the Maroondah Highway do not mix well. Unlike the gin, which mixes marvellously with tonic.
The buzzy distillery started with a crowdfunding campaign three years ago out the back of Rob Dolan Wines in Warrandyte South, and has quickly became one of the leaders in a craft gin boom.
The fancy digs used to be a timber yard before owners Stuart Gregor, Cameron Mackenzie and Matt Jones cleaned out 20 skips of rubbish and transformed it into a sleek showroom and bar.
The soaring warehouse glows with natural light, the concrete floor is set with high timber tables and adorned with fragrant botanicals, there's a slim courtyard to the side, and an expansive bar dressed in black and bronze along the back.
The staff are rightly chuffed about what's happening here, and if you look through the glass portholes you'll see the main operation, which they'll happily show you around.
On weekdays, Cam produces around 450 bottles from each seven-hour batch cooked in glistening copper stills adorably named after the owners' mums – workhorse Wilma, the newly minted Jude, with Eileen to come. It's still a surprisingly boutique operation that's expanding in giant leaps.
The best thing, really, is to get a paddle of G&Ts for $12 – three baby glasses of the top sellers poured over ice: the original rare dry gin, the killer Navy Strength (58.8 per cent alcohol, thanks for coming), and a spiced negroni gin that's balanced with cloves, cinnamon and blood orange. Pour over tonic, marvel at the clean, vivid flavours, and the reasonable price.
If you're here before lunch, or even after, try the Red Snapper breakfast special, an extravagant bloody mary made with gin, obviously, and plenty of chilli using a recipe nicked from Easy Tiger in Collingwood. It comes with a side of Fruition sourdough and marmalade made by local preservers Cunliffe & Waters using the same oranges they use for the gin.
If you're starving you'll find some lightly spiced mixed nuts and plump, briny olives to graze on. Not drinking gin? There are a couple of local Yarra Valley wines, beer and cider on tap, and tea and coffee for the poor designated driver.
Drink this G&T paddle, $12
Eat this Toast and marmalade, $8
Say this "Who's driving?"
Know this It's $10 for a tasting, refundable with a bottle purchase