The Liquor Cabinet

From cordials to cocktail cans: the epic story of Billson’s

The Beechworth brewers blend a lot of passion into their punchy cans, promising nostalgic flavours and hyper-local ingredients to boost your good times.

When you pick up a bright ready-to-drink can of Billson’s vodka, you can be forgiven for perhaps not appreciating the history that you’re holding in your hand. In fact, there’s a good chance the recipe behind your drink dates back more than 100 years and had been lying forgotten in an abandoned factory in Beechworth – until now.

Such was the case when Melbourne couple Nathan and Felicity Cowan went exploring Beechworth in 2017 on their mission to find an enchanting regional town to raise their children. Tiring of the hectic city pace, they were touring the Victorian regions for new digs to raise their young family when they stumbled across a dilapidated brewery-come-cordial factory in the historic gold-mining town in north-east Victoria. “We fell in love with the town and the history of the town,” Nathan recalls. “You could tell [the building] had so much potential and deserved to be in a better state than we’d found it in. So we sold our house in St Kilda, moved up to Beechworth and jumped on a hundred-year-old cordial bottling line.”

After hiring a local historian they began to piece together a better picture of the building’s stories, learning about its time as a brewery and cordial factory until it’d been abandoned and left to pigeons decades earlier. “Initially we thought we’d try and shine a light on the cordial and get a few people back into the building,” Nathan says. “But knowing it was originally a brewery in the early 1900s, we thought that if we could start making beer too, that would be really special.”

The Billson's difference

Fast forward six years, and Billson’s Brewery is now a must-visit dining and drinking destination, and a serious drinks producer, exporting everything from vintage cordials to beer to ready-to-drink canned cocktails.



Nathan believes Billson’s real point of difference is the pristine water they can access via the building’s original well. “George Billson, the original owner, chose the location because it sits on a natural spring dug by gold miners, and we use that in every beverage made on site,” Nathan says. “The first product we sold was actually canned sparkling water while we were going through the planning phase and trying to install brewing equipment and get our liquor licensing.”



These days, one of the tastiest ways to sample Billson’s wares is through their premix cans, blending their traditional cordial flavours with triple distilled vodka and their own soda. “We’re noticing people really want drinks that are full of flavour and easy to drink,” Nathan says. “People like to have their interests sparked and feel a little bit intrigued.”

Try these classic Billson’s vodka flavours

You don’t have to queue at the soda bar in Beechworth to get a taste of these favourites – they’re all available at Liquorland.


Billson’s Portello: A sip of this grape and berry tipple will have you steeped in nostalgia, imagining a time of paddle-steamers and steam train transportation.


Billson’s Passionfruit: Zesty passionfruit cordial combined with fresh spring soda and triple distilled vodka makes for a refreshing afternoon sipper.


Billson’s Creamy Soda: As the name suggests, this offers a sweet, ice-creamy taste that’ll mentally catapult you to a retro bar with jukebox and chequered floor tiles.

Billson’s Fruit Tangle: This tastes distinctly like liquid fruit tingle lollies – share a four-pack with friends and marvel at the fizzy, candy flavour. 

More must-try Billson’s drinks

What will they think of next? We can’t get enough of these fun flavours.


Billson’s Sour Blueberry: A throwback to your favourite sour Nerds or Zappos, your first sip will be a sour twist before the smooth blueberry flavour takes over.


Billson’s Tropical Punch: With clear bursts of passionfruit and pineapple, these sunshine-y cans are perfect to stash in your picnic basket for a bright afternoon out.


Billson’s Musk: Sweet and floral, this brings you all the characteristics of musk sticks in heavenly liquid form. 

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