Anyone who knows me knows that I am usually a strict 'city to the sea' kind of person. Residing in the beautiful Henley Beach with some fabulous restaurants within walking distance, means I don't often venture far from home.
But last week I got out of my comfort zone to attend the Missy Higgins concert at Ukaria Cultural Centre in Mt Barker and so my partner and I took off up the freeway intending to make our way into Hahndorf for a bite to eat en route.
We had almost made it when the barn-like exterior of Ambleside Distillers came into view. Should we stop? Yes. Yes, we should.
Upon entry, we immediately felt at ease. Though there were few patrons (it was 5pm on a Friday and they close at 6pm), the staff were welcoming without being over the top. The plain, barn-like exterior gave way to a warm reclaimed brick wall behind the bar, and a combination of high and low timber tables added extra interest. Empty gin bottles filled with botanicals such as star anise and coffee beans dotted the tables.
As I was the lucky driver, we ordered just one flight of gin comprising the Ambleside staples - No 8 Botanical, the Big Dry, and the Small Acre Gin, which were accompanied by botanicals including coffee beans, dried orange, fresh basil and jalapeno. A knowledgeable staff member (unfortunately we didn't catch her name) explained the differences in the gins; how the botanicals complement the flavours, and the difference even a cube of ice can make to the taste.
I had a small taste of each and although I do drink the odd gin, I am definitely not a regular drinker. Based on this experience, things could be about to change!
To complement the flight we ordered the trio of dips – a delightful carrot and coriander; artichoke and cashews, and a sundried tomato number. They were all delicious and unique in their own way, and pleasingly they were served with more than ample flatbread – often a problem!
From the service, to the décor, to the surrounding landscape, our unexpected stop was a lovely experience.
We will definitely be back.
Ambleside Distillers is located on Mount Barker Road and is open Thursday & Friday - 12.00pm to 6:00pm and Saturday & Sunday - 11.00am to 6.00pm