Cocktails and Dreams at Sunshine & Sons

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

Tony Cox is shaken, stirred and muddled by Sunshine & Sons’ latest offering – and global glory.

From the very beginning, the clever crew at CAVU Distilling established the infrastructure to be able to distil in sufficient volumes to service national retail distribution along with stocking bars, restaurants and independent retailers. The dream though, has always been global.

Initially concentrating on Sunshine & Sons to produce mostly white spirits, namely vodka and gin, the launch of a sister brand, Nil Desperandum, saw Australia’s first certified organic rum hit the market.

The distillery door at Woombye has seen constant growth in visitor numbers as discerning consumers make their way for tastings, education or just to relax with a cocktail overlooking the surrounding rainforest.

Thanks to a cracking product and the team’s commitment to getting sips on lips as often as possible with pop-up bars and tastings, consumer awareness of their stable of spirits has been simmering away for quite some time.

That simmer has not just turned into a boil, but the entire stockpot has been raised from the hotplate with Sunshine & Sons Vodka taking out World’s Best Vodka at the 2024 World Vodka Awards in the UK! For the next few weeks, the team will be on a whirlwind combination of trade tastings, potential distributor meetings, promotional events in the quest to capitalise on the award – and realise the dream of global domination!

Back home in Woombye, the team is already seeing an uptick in demand. Viewing the big gong as an opportunity to introduce consumers to the broader Sunshine & Sons / Nil Desperandum range, the latest experience at the distillery door is a hands-on Cocktail Masterclass where you get to play around with several products, get a spirited education and have fun with friends.

Hosted by an experienced mixologist, you are taught the basics of cocktail making, including muddling, shaking, building, straining (getting those Boston shakers unattached from one another can be a strain!) with three delicious cocktails on the menu.

As long-time lovers of Sunshine & Sons, our team had the opportunity to road test an abridged and much-needed experience just before print deadline!

The first cocktail creation was the Near North which saw us muddle a few lime segments using a small rolling pin-like ‘muddler’ to releases the juice as well as the essential oils and aromatics of the skin and pith. To this we added 30ml of Original Cane Spirit (made from local Sunshine Coast sugar cane which is more cachąca than white rum); topped the shaker up with ice, and proceeded to unleash the inner Bryan Brown and Tom Cruise ala the 1988 movie Cocktail.

All that was left to do was to empty the contents into a short glass and enjoy.

The beauty of this cocktail, despite being a super-refreshing sipper, is that it is the base for a great array of longer drinks: simply add some mint and soda for a mojito; use a long glass and top up with ginger beer for a spicy alternative; or even switch out the lime for another citrus fruit for a different flavour profile – blood orange and ruby grapefruit come immediately to mind.

Next up was the Mr Barista Martini, a take on the current favourite of Espresso Martini. Simply add 30ml each of Sunshine & Sons Mr Barista Coffee Liqueur (a combination of organic molasses rum, cold-brewed coffee and local Nutworks macadamias), Sunshine & Sons Original Vodka and Espresso coffee with 15ml (or less) of vanilla syrup or sugar syrup to a cocktail shaker; top with ice and shake it to within an inch of its life! Strain into a martini glass and admire that layer of delicious froth (Guinness drinkers might be particularly excited by this one) on top of the dark coffee colour beneath. Top with coffee beans and enjoy – even better try with that other favourite, a Tim Tam or two.

Being on deadline, we didn’t have time for a third cocktail which, together with Woombye Cheese and Silver Tongue lavosh crackers, is normally on offer.

In a few short years the team at Sunshine & Sons and Nil Desperandum have achieved a hell of a lot not just within Australia but also on the world stage. What’s next for the team?

Luckily for us we can enjoy the fruits of their labours close to home and it pays to regularly drop into the distillery to watch (and taste) the evolution – we can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Distillery Experience. Daily, 10am-4pm.

Tastings and etched tumbler to keep. 1-15 guests, $15 per person, fully redeemable on any 700ml bottle purchase. Bookings recommended, walk-ins welcome.

Cocktail Masterclass. Fri-Tues, 3.30pm-5pm.

Three cocktails, recipe book, cheese platter. 2-10 guests. $99 per person with $15 redeemable on any 700ml bottle purchase. Bookings essential.

To find out more, discover the range and book visit

About the Author /

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After 25 years of sniffing, swirling, spitting and slurping various vinous temptations our wine writer has decided that his future lies firmly planted on the consumption and storytelling side. Tony not only still enjoys consulting about wine and other beverages but is now part of the successful Kate Cox Real Estate Team at Reed & Co. Estate Agents.

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