(l-r) Craig Heads, Charlotte Bailey and Lee Kirman from Humber Street Distillery Co raise a toast to their new venture with Wykeland Group’s Tom Watson.
The £80m rejuvenation of Hull’s Fruit Market is in full flow after plans were revealed for the introduction of Yorkshire’s first gin bar and distillery at the site.
Inspired by the surge in popularity of gin, owners Lee Kirman and Charlotte Bailey are creating one of only a handful of combined gin bars and distilleries across the country, to add to the vibrant atmosphere of an area at the heart of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture.
The couple are investing £160,000 into the launch of Humber Street Distillery Co, with £50,000 going on a bespoke, 150-litre gin still which is being imported from Germany. The opening will create up to eight full and part-time jobs.
The bar will open next month in Humber Street, in the heart of the Fruit Market, with the still due to be installed in August when they will begin producing their own unique brand of fruit-flavoured gin in tribute to the venue’s location.
Humber Street Distillery Co is the latest investment as part of the rejuvenation of the Fruit Market being delivered by Wykeland Beal, the joint venture company formed by regeneration company Wykeland Group and housebuilder Beal Homes, working in partnership with Hull City Council.
Kirman said: “We approached Wykeland Beal about opportunities in the Fruit Market and they have been really positive and supportive. We felt they really understood the concept and wanted us to be part of the exciting rebirth of Humber Street.
“The Fruit Market area is seeing massive regeneration and investment and we felt the time was right to bring our new business venture to fruition. We feel it will fit in perfectly as part of the growing community of independent businesses in Humber Street.”
The 1,800 sq ft venue has been designed by East Yorkshire-based DEN Group, the company that designed 1884 Dock Street Kitchen, the award-winning restaurant that was among the pioneers of the Fruit Market rejuvenation.
It will feature an elegantly-decorated bar, with the still to be installed on display behind a glass wall in the bar area so customers can see the gin being produced. The owners say it will have a “speakeasy style”, with oak-panelled walls and leather seating, and feature photographs of Humber Street in days gone by. It will also have a heated outdoor seating area.
Around 100 different varieties of gin, unusual spirits, local and international craft beers and bespoke cocktails will be on offer. Food offerings will include gourmet bar snacks and sharing platters.
To master the art of gin distillery and production, the owners have teamed up with acclaimed gin distiller Jamie Baxter, who opened the City of London Distillery in 2012 – the first gin distillery to open in the capital for 200 years. Mr Baxter is also known for creating spirits such as Burleighs London Dry Gin and the award-winning Chase Vodka.
When the distillery is up and running, guests will be able to attend tasting sessions and master classes on the making of gin, as well as being able to distil their own gin from a miniature still brought to their table. They will then be able to take away their tipple in a Fruit Market-themed and personalised bottle.
The £80m transformation of the Fruit Market as Hull’s first “urban village” includes new and refurbished commercial, retail and leisure space centred on Humber Street. The commercial units will be complemented by a development of 101 new mews-style homes around private courtyards, due to start construction by the summer.
Humber Street Distillery Co is the latest in a wave of recent investments into the Fruit Market, including high-quality restaurants Ambiente Tapas, Butler Whites and Tapasya @ Marina; artisan chocolatier Cocoa Chocolatier and Patisserie; Humber Street Gallery; and vintage fashion brand Poorboy Boutique.
Tom Watson, development surveyor at Wykeland Group, added: “Humber Street Distillery Co is another great independent and distinctive addition to the Fruit Market, adding to the rich and diverse mix of leisure, retail, creative and cultural uses in and around Humber Street.
“Lee and Charlotte have played a key part in making the Fruit Market a great place to visit through their success at the helm of The Minerva and we’re delighted to have worked with them to enable them to expand their business with such an exciting venture.
“It will bring something new to the Fruit Market that you can’t find anywhere else for many miles around and will add to the area’s growing appeal as a destination for local people and visitors alike.”
The bar will be managed by Craig Heads, former manager of the successful bar and restaurant The Old House, in Hull’s Old Town, and will be open initially from Tuesday to Sunday, 12 noon to 11pm.
Heads said: “This is a really exciting venture and we’re looking forward to welcoming customers from near and far. A gin bar and distillery is a first for Hull and gin is always evolving, because of the variety and subtleties in taste and flavour.
“Our focus is predominantly on gin but we will stock a good range of craft beers, an assortment of interesting spirits and a wide selection of classic and bespoke cocktails. Customers can also pop in for a pot of Yorkshire Tea and a platter of locally-produced cheese, so we will offer something for everyone.”