The Cotton Thief, Cremorne

When it comes to themed bars, Sydney has its share of American prohibition era, British gin palaces and Mexican cantinas. The Cotton Thief bar brings it closer to home by celebrating Australia’s convict heritage, but you won’t find it in The Rocks area but a short hop across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Cremorne.

The Cotton Thief, Cremorne
The Cotton Thief Bar, Cremorne

Located along Military Road in the vicinity of Orpheum Cinema and across the road from Minskys Hotel and a few doors up from Barrel Bar & Dining, the intimate 40 seater bar takes a step back in time and commemorates the time when criminals were transported halfway across the world to Australia some for merely stealing a loaf of bread.

The Cotton Thief, Cremorne

For The Cotton Thief – a 17 year old by the name of William Brown – it was a case of cotton garments stolen off a clothes line belonging to a housewife by the name of Mary Hibbert. Sentenced to seven years transportation to New South Wales in 1821, he was eventually granted his Ticket of Leave in 1832 and became a successful timber merchant. Today, one of William’s great, great, great grandsons, Dave Brown pays tribute to his ancestor who became a respected colonist.

The Cotton Thief, Cremorne
Intimate Seating

The food list is aptly named as “Rations” and offers a selection of favourites such as Nacho Dogs, Pizzas with names such as Henry Abrams ‘The Pig Thief’ and $5 feeds on Tuesday nights as well as burgers and salads.

The “Booze” list has an Australian craft focus with some 30 wines and 15 craft beers. Currently on tap are Dad & Dave #1 Pale Ale and Rocks Brewing’s Convict Lager. You’ll find an impressive range of spirits with Australian craft spirits taking centre stage such as Stone Pine Gin, Belgrove Rye Whisky, Mr Black Coffee Liqueur, ISOS Organic Vodka and many others featured in our Top 10 Australian Craft Spirits.

The Cotton Thief, Cremorne
L-R: The Botanic Garden; Tanq Stream

From the Signature cocktails ($16) comes The Botanic Garden made with Botanic Australis Gin, cucumber, thyme, rainforest lime shrub, elderflower and lime. Fresh, herbaceous and light, the drink has a good balance of gin, citrus and floral notes which makes for easy sipping. The Tanq Stream combines gin with lime juice, mint, cucumber and Angostura bitters into another refreshing libation with strong notes of mint on the finish.

Other cocktails include the Rum Rebellion with Spiced Rum, butterscotch schnapps, pineapple juice and passionfruit and the Drunken Sailor with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Sauza Hornitos Tequila, lime juice and agave nectar.

The Cotton Thief, Cremorne
The Broadside West Winds Gin Dirty Martini

When it comes to classic cocktails, The Broadside from West Winds Gin hits the dirty Martini spot. The limited edition navy strength gin is bottled at 58% ABV and packs a punch with juniper, citrus and pepper notes making a fine Dirty Martini.

The Cotton Thief, Cremorne
Aussie Craft Spirits

The Cotton Thief bar is a neighbourhood bar that may draw you in out of curiosity before you adopt it as your own. Whether you’re perched at the bar, seated by the window or huddling at the back along the cosy banquette or the plush red chairs, you’re in for a casual and relaxed small bar experience.

The Cotton Thief
350 Military Rd.
Cremorne, NSW 2090

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.

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