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Meet Lana & Justin Bell

Owners of Familiar Spirits Gin Distillery in Burleigh Heads.

Familiar Spirits (image supplied)
Familiar Spirits (image supplied)

Meet the dynamic duo behind Familiar Spirits, delicious small batch spirits made in the heart of Burleigh Heads. Lana and Justin Bell are the creative minds and driving forces behind this one-of-a-kind venture. From crafting unique tasting experiences to curating an exquisite collection of artisanal spirits, Lana and Justin’s passion for their craft is infectious. We dive into Lana’s story, how she started Familiar Spirits and get the scoop on their latest venture.

How long have you been Gold Coast locals?
We’ve been on the Gold Coast for 3 years now. We moved to Miami from just over the border in Casuarina in 2020. We lived in Miami for a year while we built on our block of land in Bonogin.

What do you love the most about the Gold Coast?
The sense of community. We love knowing our local shop owners and everyone is so supportive of local business. On the Gold Coast you can enjoy the best of everything – with the beach, hinterland and shopping all within 30 minutes of each other.

Lana and Justin Bell, owners of Familiar Spirits (image supplied)
Lana and Justin Bell, owners of Familiar Spirits (image supplied)

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
We’ve been married for 17 years and have four daughters, life is very busy and full right now. I studied graphic design straight out of school and have worked in various creative roles before settling on photography where I’ve been working for myself as a portrait photographer for the past 16 years. I’m now winding that back to focus on growing our distillery. I’m always striving to make everything in our lives beautiful so that spills over into interior decoration, entertaining and my garden. I’m particularly obsessed with growing roses, I have over 40 in the garden which means we have a constant supply of blooms.

Growing up in Byron Bay, Justin’s never been far from the Gold Coast. He’s the alchemist and our distiller while also working a full time job as a solutions architect. Justin is known by everyone for his cooking skills – especially on the BBQ and takes his food quite seriously 😉

Familiar Spirits (image supplied)
Familiar Spirits (image supplied)

Tell us about Familiar Spirits.
As passionate foodies and gardeners, we use home grown ingredients when possible to manufacture our spirits and liqueurs. Additionally, we engage local creatives such as photographers, graphic designers (the one and only Kiel Tillman), and ceramicists (handmade ceramic/reusable/refillable bottles are in the works) to ensure that our product is not only delicious but also beautiful and unique in its branding. We prioritise making spirits that are perfect for entertaining, catering to individuals who enjoy mixing cocktails, cooking, and hosting gatherings with friends and family.

Familiar Spirits is as much about the experience of mixing a cocktail for a friend to enjoy as it is about the taste and quality of the spirits themselves. We believe that the act of crafting a cocktail is an art form, and we want our customers to feel like skilled mixologists when they use our products. We’re dedicated to providing a complete experience, from the first sip to the last, and we hope to inspire our customers to explore their creativity and share their love of entertaining with others.

Familiar Spirits (image supplied)
Familiar Spirits (image supplied)

What inspired you to create Familiar Spirits?
A love of food and drink. We had always tossed around the idea about starting a cocktail bar. It slowly morphed into creating the spirits themselves and now that cocktail bar is also on the horizon, with our cellar door opening at the end of the year!

Familiar Spirits has a strong focus on providing craft spirits with character. Could you elaborate on how you curate a collection that stands out from the mainstream market?
It’s funny you say that because we’ve developed each spirit with a backstory of a rich aristocratic family and the characters within that family unit.

For example, ‘The Butler’s Gin’ is the gin we imagine they have their butler deliver to them on a silver platter at 5pm each evening. ‘The Lakehouse’ is the fabulous Cape Cod style home where they spend their summers.

Our next release will be a rum named after the aristocratic pirate who left his plantation to pillage on the high seas (keep your eyes peeled for that one in the next few months!)

Familiar Spirits (image supplied)
Familiar Spirits (image supplied)

Your commitment to sustainability and supporting local is commendable. How do you ensure that these values are integrated into your business practices and the spirits you offer?
First and foremost, we use as many local businesses as we possibly can in our production and end product.

For example, working with a local box manufacturer in Burleigh is so much easier than going via China – we can have items made up with hours notice, we’re supporting local manufacturing and we get to make friends with the business owners – what’s better than that?

We also love to collaborate with local creatives and help to grow our arts scene on the Gold Coast. We’re currently working with ceramicist Jo Norton to hand make porcelain bottles that can be refilled at our cellar door, reducing waste and making a simple bottle of liquor more beautiful!

Familiar Spirits cocktails (image supplied)
Familiar Spirits cocktails (image supplied)

Could you share a favourite cocktail using Familiar Spirits?
We created the Elderflower Martini, it’s a fresh cocktail that everyone loves – it’s easy to drink but also packs a punch.

Elderflower & Gin Martini
30ml The Butler’s Gin
15ml Vermouth
15ml Elderflower Liqueur
15ml Lime Juice
15ml Simple syrup

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Double strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. No garnish

Familiar Spirits (image supplied)
Familiar Spirits (image supplied)

Can you provide a sneak peek into any upcoming initiatives or expansions that your customers can anticipate?
We’re busy bees at the moment, having just onboarded with Dan Murphy’s and BWS locally, we are pushing the Still to the max every day.

Our brand new distillery space is being built right now in Burleigh and should be ready for handover in November.

As soon as we’re in, it’ll be all hands on deck to fit out the most beautiful tiny cocktail bar at the front of our premises and welcome the public to join us for drinks.

We have a lot of fun ideas in the works for food and drink events at the distillery – stay tuned in 2024 😉

Lana and Justin Bell (image supplied)
Lana and Justin Bell (image supplied)

What are your Gold Coast Favourites:
Favourite café:
You’ll find us once or twice a week at Juniors Deli in Mudgeeraba. I live for their sandwiches, particularly the BLT.
Favourite restaurant: It’s hard to beat pizzas from Franc Jnrs in Coolangatta.
Favourite bar: Ours of course!
Favourite beach: Early mornings at Currumbin Alley before the crowds is pretty spectacular.

How do you choose to spend your days off?
Given the chance, we’re at home gardening with the BBQ on and a cocktail not too far away. We recently built the dream house on an acre block so we have quite a bit to do!

Familiar Spirits collection (image supplied)
Familiar Spirits collection (image supplied)

7 of the best Gold Coast* distilleries

Granddad Jacks (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)
Granddad Jack's (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)

As a bunch of discernible consumers of all alcoholic beverages, it was only a matter of time before the Gold Coast began to take heed and give us craft distilleries. Gin has, and still is, having a moment. Whisky has always grabbed a particular pocket of drinkers, and vodka is a staple that, although refreshing on its own, is an excellent base for many delicious cocktails we’ve come to love on the regular (espresso martini, anyone?).

Being one of Australia’s most innovative business start-up areas and having proximity to quality produce and botanicals from the South-East corner of Queensland and the Northern Rivers, our distilleries were always going to be a success no matter what shape or format they came in.

As there’s a sizeable collection for you to consider either buying from or visiting, we run down the distilleries we deem must-visits and precisely what they offer.

Granddad Jack’s
This multi-award-winning backstreet distillery has seen explosive success since opening its doors just three years ago. Aptly positioned in the now growing creative hub of Lemana Lane and surrounding streets, it’s a guaranteed good going-out spot. The portfolio of spirits is diverse, the atmosphere always on point, and the smiles forever beaming.
Offering: tasting room table bookings — distillery tour and tasting — private make your own gin class
Hours: Fri & Sat: 3pm – 9.30pm | Sun: 2pm – 6.15pm
Where: 45 Lemana Lane, Miami

Wildflower Gin Distillery (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)
Wildflower Gin Distillery (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)

Wildflower Gin Distilling
As if we need another motive to love the Burleigh Heads/Varisty Lakes area…. Wildflower Gin Distilling is just another reason we’ll add to an already long list. This industrial feel space creates what they describe to be, in their own words ‘Burleigh in a bottle’. Gins are the main attraction, but the team also turn their hands to vodka, with their recent Lamington Cake vodka a must-try for something sweet and traditionally Aussie!
Offering: group table bookings — 2hr gin masterclasses where you can create your own spirit!
Hours: Fri & Sat: 5pm – 9pm | Sun 2pm – 6pm
Where: 2/486 Scottsdale Drive, Varsity Lakes

Tamborine Mountain Distillery
A drive out of town to nearby Tamborine Mountain will reward you with one of the country’s most decorated and awarded distilleries. The range of spirits and liqueurs available here is enormous, equating to everyone who visits finding at least one (if not more) favourite tipples. The venue itself is an eclectic mix of old-world charm with a sprinkling of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory vibes, be sure to bring a crew and enjoy this space — and their tasty drops!
Offering: tasting room bookings — tailored events
Hours: 7 days 10am – 5pm
Where: 10 Macdonnell Road, Tamborine Mountain

Panezski Distillery cocktail (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)
Panezski Distillery cocktail (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)

Panezski Artisan Distillery
For a long time, vodka has had strong associations with our hardy northern hemisphere friends, the Russians. However, take a closer look at where some of the best vodkas are being produced, and you’ll notice such countries as the USA, France and Poland continually pop up — we may even see Australia soon in that mix. This family-owned distillery in Southport takes their Polish heritage seriously, dishing up some fine examples of vodka and gin with fantastic attention taken from the start, right through to bottling.
Offering: tasting room bookings — group events
Hours: Mon-Thurs: open from 4pm | Fri open from 2pm | Sat open from 10am, bookings highly recommended. Sunday (bookings only)
Where: 7 / 55 Bailey Crescent, Southport

Beenleigh Rum Distillery
With the title of being Australia’s oldest operating distillery, you’re not only tasting rum here but a slice of history. This quality artisan producer is a must-try for those who enjoy their rums, with a sizeable collection of products and an ever-growing line for you to appreciate — and keep on appreciating! Parts of the distillery known as the Big Red Shed have been part of the setup from day one back in 1884 and are mixed with a modern venue space for all to enjoy.
Offering: various tasting experiences — Master of Rum craft your own rum experience — venue hire/functions
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 10am — 5pm | Fri: 10am – 8pm | Sat & Sun: 10am – 4pm
Where: 142 Distillery Road, Eagleby

Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Husk Distillery (image supplied)

Husk Distillery
Ok, so we cheated on this one (not technically a Gold Coast distillery, but we love it so much). Pretty hues of pink and purple have made Husk’s Ink gin one of the most recognisable sips in the past few years. Often punctuated with a sprig of rosemary, you’ll find yourself in a little slice of Northern NSW heaven at their picturesque distillery in the removed countryside spot of Tumbulgum. Although across the border, pack the car with blankets and friends and make an afternoon of it. Read all about the foundation of Husk from Paul Messenger’s interview with us here.
Offering: monthly distillery dinners — table bookings —distillery tours — cocktail masterclasses
Hours: Weds-Fri: 11am – 5pm  | Sat & Sun: 11am – 6pm
Where: 1152 Dulguigan Rd, North Tumbulgum NSW

Capricorn Distilling Co.
Introducing the newest kid on the block! This small-batch distillery has just opened in Burleigh and boasts premium spirits that promise to be ‘as real as it gets.’ Our northern friends may be familiar with Rockhamption’s Saleyards Distillery and now we are fortunate to have the same innovative team bringing their passion to the Goldy. You can expect Spiced Rum, Summer Gin and even Pineapple Rum (for those who love the fruit – even on their pizzas.) Worthy of a leisurely stroll in on the weekend we think!
Offering: distillery tours — distillery door
Hours: Fri-Sun: 10am — 5pm
Where: 21 Ern Harley Drive, Burleigh Heads

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Recipe: 2 classic Margarita recipes with Cointreau

Cointreau Christmas Pack with salt rim tray (image supplied)
Cointreau Christmas Pack with salt rim tray (image supplied)

Summer and cocktails go hand in hand, so we’re dusting off our shakers and jumping into some classic cocktail recipes. First stop Margarita-ville.

The Margarita was originally created when Dallas socialite Margarita Sames mixed her two favorite spirits, Cointreau and tequila, together with lime juice while on vacation in Acapulco back in 1948 #jobwelldoneMargie. This original Margarita recipe has stood the test of over 70 years’ time.

Distilled with a combination of sweet and bitter orange peel to produce a crystal-clear spirit, Cointreau possesses a unique complexity perfect for enhancing the vibrancy of cocktails, including refreshing summer favourites like the Original or Spicy Margarita.

Cointreau Christmas Pack with salt rim tray (image supplied)
Cointreau Christmas Pack with salt rim tray (image supplied)

The Original Margarita:


  • 30ml Cointreau
  • 30ml Blanco Tequila
  • 30ml Fresh Lime Juice


  1. Make a salt rim on your glass
  2. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice
  3. Shake vigorously until well chilled
  4. Strain into a Margarita glass
  5. Garnish with a lime wheel

The Spicy Margarita


  • 30mL Cointreau
  • 30mL Blanco Tequila
  • 30mL Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 slices Jalapeño, plus extra for garnish


  1. Make a salt rim on your glass
  2. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  3. Add ice and shake well until well-chilled.
  4. Strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass.
  5. Garnish with a jalapeño pepper.
Cointreau Christmas Pack with salt rim tray (image supplied)
Cointreau Christmas Pack with salt rim tray (image supplied)

Iconic orange liqueur Cointreau is celebrating summer and all things festive with an exclusive Christmas gift pack. An ideal gift for margarita enthusiasts, this pack contains a 700mL bottle of Cointreau, as well as a complimentary salt rim tray for creating the perfect margarita, all in a special decorative gift box.

The salt rim tray comes in Cointreau’s signature bright orange, and features a lid so you can store the salt, preventing mess and waste. This perfect pairing is sure to be a great addition to any home bar, making adding a salt rim to cocktails a breeze.

The Cointreau Christmas Gift Pack is available to purchase from leading independent retailers nationwide for $60.


Drink responsibly. 18+ only.

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