Fitzroy’s Rum Diary Bar Wants To Spice Up Australia

Every bar owner wants their venue to stand out from the crowd, and in this case that includes the drinks. The Rum Diary Bar in Fitzroy has become renowned throughout Melbourne for it ace rum, and for good reason. Its owner Hamish Goonetilleke is simply in love with rum, and has made his own drink that he sells at his bar and on their website.

He is now taking the next step and wants to expand the business by buying three barrels of base rum Trinidad and Tobago to create more and use original bottles and labels. He has launched a Pozible crowdfunding campaign in order to accomplish this, where donators will reap some rewards for their contributions. I got to speak to Hamish on his bar and his love of rum.

The name the Rum Diary comes from a famous book by Hunter S. Thompson. Why did you name your bar after his book?
It was named after the book. Reason being I really liked the book and I enjoy Hunter S. Thomspon. I came back from a trip in Cuba in 2010, and we came up with a name for a bar. I thought how great a rum bar would be an awesome idea.

The Rum Diary has been nominated for a lot of awards within the industry and in lifestyle magazines, such as Time Out. How does it feel to be getting so much acclaim?
I never started the bar expecting it to win the awards. I stared it to make an honest rum bar. I like to focus one thing, be the master of one thing. I guess the whole idea was to do the best we could. It’s got a beautiful magnetic atmosphere. You’ll find yourself get lost in there with its warm welcoming atmosphere.

You owned the Marmalade bar before opening the Rum Diary. Do you have any plans on opening more bars in the future?
We actually opened another one called G&Tea, a twist on high tea. We opened that at the start of the year. I would be keen on opening another one for sure. But the timing isn’t right. We’d want to make it as good as Rum Diary. Just want to focus on spice rum and as good as I can do it.

What is it about rum that you love so much?
It was probably nostaglia really, that was my main influence in doing the Rum Diary. I had such an amazing time in Cuba, it made me think where is the best rum bars are and why aren’t I doing it.

Tell me about your spiced rum.
There is a norm in the industry on how people make rum. This is really quite a different product. We use a high quality tabago, take five years. We spice it with 14 different spices, so the flavour profile is exceptionally smooth. It’s a brilliant product, and not overly sweet. It should be the bartender has the knowledge to make the drink himself.

Tell me about your campaign on Pozzible and what you hope to achieve.
I think Pozzible is an interesting model. In business, there’s lots of ways to raise money. In the early stage to start up it’s quite difficult. Mum lent me money for my first bar. I went to the bank, they weren’t going to have a bar of it. Venture capitalists wouldn’t do it either, so I had to do it myself. It’s a good way to get some good publicity and also get people behind the brand. People have an emotion connection to the Rum Diary. The reason I’m doing it is that people will get behind the concept and it will develop from there.

How has the Pozzible campaign been going so far?
Really good, we’ve made over $4,000 now. We’re trying to raise $22,500. It’s the last week when everything goes gangbusters. I’m not too concerned right not. It’s just awesome. We’re trying to raise and in addition to that, the Rum Diary is putting another $12,000 on top so that it will be $30,000 so we can buy proper bottles with a proper label produced and create a professional product.

Originally published here at on Tuesday 13 October 2015

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