Ask a local: Brix Distillers
Sip your way through Sydney with James Christopher, co-founder of Brix Distillers, Sydney’s only craft rum distillery.
A self-described food-and-drink fanatic, James loves to support the city’s independent makers, markets, eateries and bars. We asked him to reveal the local destinations he returns to again and again.
The Brix premises in Surry Hills is much more than a distillery. Tell us about it.
We’re very proud of our bar-restaurant, which seats 100 and is open until midnight Wednesday to Sunday. We also offer cocktail classes where you can learn from master mixologists, and a rum spicing class where we share some of our secrets. There are distillery tours, too, so you can see what goes on behind the scenes.
Where can night owls and rum fanatics go for a drink when Brix is closed?
The Lobo in the CBD is the premier rum bar in Sydney. They’ve got an amazing selection – more than 250 rums, if you can believe it – and they make excellent cocktails. The people who work there are a great bunch: they know about the rum world down to the last detail. It’s a really welcoming, fun environment.
Where do you go for an excellent casual meal if you have a night off?
I like Atomic Beer Project in Redfern, which does a few different things really well. They brew beer on site – hence the name – but they also operate a great little pan-Asian restaurant. You can sit there and watch the beer being brewed while you eat flash-fried squid with Szechuan pepper, then wash it down with a drink. Fantastic.
We hear you’re a big market-goer. What’s your top recommendation for visitors who want to visit a market but may not need fresh produce?
Marrickville Organic Food Market is my favourite, and not just because it sells some of the best organic fruit and veg I’ve ever found in Sydney: there are also amazing food tents if you want a good feed. My favourites are the sausage guy and the chai tent. Then there’s a whole other section with stalls selling second-hand goods and clothes. It’s a great morning outing.
What’s your number-one shopping destination in Sydney?
It has to be Kinokuniya in the Galeries. It’s one of the most diverse bookshops in the entire city, but I visit specifically for the food and drink section. It’s unbelievably big and incredibly up-to-date. I can spend hours in there browsing, and I’ll never walk out without at least one purchase.
What’s your pick for a relaxing activity that may not be on visitors’ radars?
I suggest heading to Randwick and catching a movie at the Ritz. It’s a classic old-style cinema in a beautiful art deco building that has been lovingly refurbished. It’s been a cinema forever, but recently it has started putting on live performances, as well: everything from stage shows and comedy nights to live music. The other reason I recommend it is the cool upstairs bar which has a lovely balcony where you can enjoy a few cocktails. Even if you’re not going to the cinema, you can still hang out there. We’ll head straight for the balcony to watch the world go by.
Where else in Sydney do you escape to when you need to unwind?
The Royal Botanic Garden is within walking distance of Brix and is my little oasis in the middle of the city. You can still see the city and the Opera House when you’re inside, but it feels like you’re in a different world. It’s just so quiet and peaceful.