As a rule, cocktail bars like Naught Distilling are an inner-city phenomenon. Which is to say: places where ice is treated as the most important ingredient, the staff dress well and orders are taken right at your table.
Owner Chris Cameron wanted a bar that would properly represent his multi-award-winning gins, produced on the gorgeous German-made copper still displayed at the rear of the intimate, tube-shaped room designed by renowned architecture firm Studio Y (the same crew behind Nick & Nora’s, Boilermaker House, Stomping Ground, Lûmé and more). Never mind that the bar would be in the industrial part of Eltham, the quiet suburban area Cameron grew up in.
Classic gin cocktails – Martini, Negroni, Aviation, French 75 and friends – are the draws here, and you can count on them being precisely diluted and served in nicely chilled glassware. A concise snack menu adds top-quality charcuterie and tinned seafood to the equation.
But, this being a distillery, a gin-tasting flight is a good idea. The mainstay Australian Dry Gin is a contemporary gin lead by juniper, orange and cassia, with macadamia oil adding a smooth, luscious mouthfeel. Then there’s a 57.5 per cent ABV Overproof Gin bursting with pink lady apples, pink grapefruit and lime; a London-style dry gin, a minimalist, six-ingredient number; and a cult Sangiovese Gin made with grapes from the Yarra Valley and available seasonally.
Cameron came to distilling unexpectedly. In 2016 the former professional basketballer and primary school teacher was making beer with a few mates at DIY operation The Public Brewery in Croydon. He wondered why something similar didn’t exist for spirits and bought himself a little Italian pot still for home.
After several years learning and experimenting over 300 separate distillations, Cameron came up with the recipe for the Australian Dry Gin and launched Naught in 2020. The very next year, this first product was crowned champion New World/Contemporary Gin at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards, the most prestigious competition in the country. Hence needing a bar of this calibre to represent it – no matter the location.
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