Leafy Bourke Street is home to Sydney’s only dedicated craft rum distillery, Brix Distillers. The brains behind the operation are Damien Barrow, James Christopher and Siddharth Soin, who also run Cammeray’s The Public.
For them, distilling rum started out as a pet project until they realised there was a gap in the market. Former Archie Rose Distillery head distiller Shane Casey oversees the distilling of Brix’s core range – White, Gold and Spiced.
Sydney was built on rum. Forty-five thousand gallons of the stuff was paid to contractors to construct the general hospital on Macquarie Street, or what was colloquially called the “Rum Hospital”. (The hospital south wing is now the Mint, and the north wing is the NSW Parliament House.) In Sydney’s early colonial days the spirit was used as currency, and the only time the Australian government has been overthrown by a military coup (in 1808) is an event now called the “Rum Rebellion” because the corps responsible were heavily involved in the rum trade.
Fast forward to 2018 and rum production and exchange is conducted in vastly more sophisticated surrounds. Brix is housed in a space formerly used as storage by St Mary’s Cathedral, and it’s warm, modern and industrial. It features a 1200-litre copper still, eight 1000-litre fermentation tanks, plenty of polished concrete, and pops of colour from the wall art by local artist Nico Nicoson.
The distilling process can be admired from the open bar on the ground floor or the intimate barrelling room on the mezzanine.
In addition to serving Brix’s core range, the bar is stocked with more than 150 top-shelf rum labels from around the world, such as El Dorado and Chairman’s Reserve.
Sample the rums as a flight or in cocktails such as Making Love at Midnight, Brix’s take on a traditional Pina Colada. A rum trolley roams the venue every night on the hour to encourage people to sample and learn about the range.
The food draws on South American flavours by Colombian chef Ivan Sanchez, who has worked in Bodega and Porteno. There are dishes such as handmade arepas (corn flatbreads) filled with avocado, salad, chimichurri and a choice of protein including slow-cooked lamb shoulder or fried eggplant and crisp chickpeas. Other selections include spiced rum-glazed lamb ribs or jerk pork belly with chickpea puree and chimichurri.
Craft rum masterclasses and the chance to purchase your own 20-litre rum barrel, which Brix will help craft, distil and eventually bottle, will also be available soon.