Little Lon Distilling Co
The heritage-listed brick building of Little Lon Distilling Co is a small, three-room cottage with bluestone flooring, a slate roof and an outdoor toilet, and it’s the last of its type in Melbourne.
At the turn of last century, the cottage housed sex workers and bootleg grog in the area then known as the Little Lon district.
Distillery co-founder Brad Wilson tracked down the building’s owners and has only been able to lock in a one-year lease (starting in July 2018). The cottage is now licensed for 20 people, with a small bar, a gin still in one room, and fermentation tanks in another.
The Ginger Mick gin is a gingery jenever-style gin named after the Australian poet CJ Dennis book character. Jenever is a Dutch malt-based spirit flavoured with juniper, sometimes seen as a historic precursor to gin. A lychee-infused gin is named Little Miss Yoko after Chinese sex worker Yokohama (real name Tiecome Ah Chung), who lived and worked in the cottage up until the late 1920s.
Bottled gins are available, but stay in and order a gin and tonic at the compact bar. There’s a tight cocktail list, too. The Dutch Apple uses mulled jenever and apple cider. It’s served hot with “a bunch of extra spices”. There’s also a Negroni, gin Old Fashioned, and Little Lon’s version of a Tom Collins, which is given a kick with lemongrass and chilli syrup.
All fermentation and distilling is done on-site, with the base alcohol brewed at Westside Ale Works in South Melbourne.