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Murphy’s Distillery & Bar is taking over a site near the Titanic Hotel at Stanley Dock, next to the Ten Streets Social and Market just off Great Howard Street.
The company, named in honour of their Irish ancestors, was started in September 2019 by three Liverpool brothers – Mark, Simon and Terry Murphy.
Before lockdown hit they were supplying restaurants, pubs and bars in the city and further afield, including The Art School and Hard Day’s Night Hotel. But once hospitality closed down they stepped up plans for one of their own.
Now, with the finishing touches going on to make an outdoor courtyard seating area for around 60, they hope to be serving the first gins there on April 17 once restrictions ease.
Mark, the middle brother, decided he wanted make gin and started developing recipes from his home in Seaforth in November 2018.
“When I told my brothers, they said they’d get involved too, so we’ve all been in it together from the beginning,” he says.
“We all work at the moment – my background is in science – so we set up the business alongside our existing jobs then rented a storage unit once things started to grow.
“We were looking around for something bigger, this place became available and – even though it’s bigger than we’d wanted initially – because of where it was, it was too good to not take.
“We were just about to sign the lease in April last year, but then lockdown happened, so we went back to the landlord in July last year and got it.”
Mark says the location was a big factor, and the history of the place sealed the deal.
“I came to view it and the landlord showed us, right opposite our front door, there’s the big stone gates to Clarence Dock and a little green plaque on the wall which tells you about all the Irish people who came over.
“If you came here, either to go on to another part of the world or to stay in Liverpool, that’s where the ferry landed so all the Irish people would have walked through that gate.
Mark continues: “What was really interesting to us was it fitted with our backstory – we celebrate our ancestors Bridget and William Murphy, who came from Ireland to Liverpool for a better life in 1898, so the gin is named after them.
“He was a young mariner and they would have walked through that gate that’s directly over the dock road to where we are.
“My wife does a lot of family tree research and she found out this address used to be a place where mariners and dockers could come and have a drink, it was like a social club for people who worked on the docks, so the likelihood is he could have even been in here having a drink.”
Mark, older brother Simon and younger brother Terry picked up the keys for the former joinery in July last year and have spent months fitting it out.
With help from handy family members, they installed the 20-litre stills needed to make their gin, built the bar and distillery area from old pallets and tables out of reclaimed scaffolding boards. Inside, the bar and distillery space merge, so customers can see where their gin is being made while they drink it.
They’ve also done up a courtyard space for outdoor drinking and applied for a pavement licence to add extra street tables.
Murphy’s Distillery & Bar will launch with three gins, all 42% strength – an unflavoured London gin, the first one they made which has already won an international award, and two naturally-flavoured ones: a pomegranate and kaffir lime leaf gin and an orange with a hint of passion fruit.
“One of the things we’re keen to do as well is make limited edition gins every month which we’ll make only a few bottles of. They’ll be gins that you can’t get anywhere else, only here,” says Mark.
“We haven’t launched it yet but we’re going to do a botanical vodka, called Ten Streets Vodka, and we’re working with Brew Dog so we’ve got their beers on draught.”
The brothers have plans to put on live music, and offer outside space to different food vendors.
Initially, the bar will be open Friday evenings and all-day Saturday and Sunday and Mark says they’ve already had lots of interest from people keen to see more opening up in the area.
“It’s been a whole family business, we’ve all brought different skills and experience to it, and we’re taking it organically to see how it goes,” he adds. “We’re working around our existing jobs at first and then hopefully Murphy’s will be a full time job in the future.”
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