To find this house of craft gin, where Poor Tom’s have been distilling their own small batch juniper spirit in a converted Marrickville warehouse since 2015, you’ll need to look for the partially-opened corrugated roller door tucked amidst a motorcycle repair shop and a metal stamp factory. And it’s worth hunting down, because now they’ve added a bar to their operation.
The gin hall possesses a church-like reverie – white walls, a backlit archway, and a mysterious clay shrine behind the counter (an altar to Ginsus, their gin god and mascot). There’s about 30 bar stools scattered about that you can pull up to the marble-topped service area. This is an elegantly pared back, soul-cleansing sorta place.
On the menu are three house gins, each offered in a classic gin and tonic (paired with a specific tonic water), shaken in a martini, or fashioned into a changing line-up of cocktails. And in a pleasant contrast to so much of Sydney’s bar scene, the drinks menu has wallet-friendly cellar door prices.
The Sydney Dry Gin – the original commercial batch of Poor Toms spirit – shines in an eight-dollar G&T. It’s a balanced, delicate cocktail; the gin tart and floral, with notes of strawberry and green apple; and the Strangelove light tonic providing an uncomplicated canvas canvas for the botanicals in the spirit.
Things get fruity with a strawberry Gin G&T. The gin has been steeped with young ginger, hibiscus and strawberries, giving it a pretty as pink hue and a super-floral, berry-heavy profile to match. It’s paired simply with a twist of lemon. Beware of the Fool’s Strength G&T with an alcohol level of 52 per cent and big, bold flavours like aniseed and juniper – for gutsy drinkers only.
We’re lured by the theatre of the Strawberry Gin martini, shaken with more of that pink gin, rose vermouth and a dash of sherry, and then briefly set alight with the kiss of lit match – the result is a boozy, sweet and smoky cocktail with that divisive red-cherry flavour that your either love or hate.
There’s a weekly changing roster of cocktails that experiment with whatever fruits and herbs are in season. On our visit, they’ve fashioned a house-made passionfruit-chamomile soda and mixed it up with Lillet Blanc, lemon, and gin, served in a tall glass. It’s a super-refreshing fizzy cocktail that’s pleasantly sour and sherbert-y.
In a stroke of collaborative genius, hungry punters can order pizzas from nearby Pizza Madre through bar staff. Orders are placed every half hour, and delivered to the bar (and then to your mouth). Over at the the merch stand, you can purchase a bottle of Poor Toms to add to your drinks trolley at home.
Despite its hidden location, on a Friday night dozens of devotees have made the pilgrimage to Poor Toms Gin Hall. It’s bustling with well-behaved pooches, and their owners who are here to pay their respects at the altar of local gin.