Since early 2018, Prohibition Liquor Co’s CBD tasting room (and now distillery) served as a second location for Kent Town-based coffee shop Tell Henry.

But in March the Tell Henry team moved out and handed the reins back to Prohibition owners Adam Carpenter and Wes Heddles. The pair have just opened their own coffee shop, Bootleg, in the same space.

“It’s proven to be the right thing for the site – switching from coffee in the morning to gin in the afternoon,” says Carpenter. (A new decal on the window reads: “For that time of day when it’s too early for a G&T”.)

To the untrained eye, the 25-square-metre space seems more or less the same. “It’s situation normal, which was the plan,” Carpenter says. But now there’s a back shelf stacked with bottles of gin you can purchase from 10am, and a shmick new Synesso coffee machine that retails for a cool $20,000.

Coursing through that matte-black centrepiece is a house blend from local roaster The Coffee Barun, though Carpenter’s got mate and coffee expert Mark Barun working on a custom blend. “Anything he doesn’t know about coffee isn’t worth knowing”, says Carpenter, as we sip two of the first coffees out of the new machine.

Food-wise, there are pastries from Abbots and Kinney, raw vegan slices and bliss balls from Jamu in the Central Market, and bagels from Bagel Boys.

“The best way to control our destiny was to take over ourselves,” Carpenter says. The changeover just so happened to be in the middle of a global pandemic, but that didn’t slow them down.

Prohibition was one of the first Aussie distilleries to start making hand sanitiser. The 100-millilitre bottles were free with every gin purchased online, which Carpenter says sent sales spiking by 3600 per cent. “We moved as many units as we would’ve in the bar that first month.” That kept things moving at a time when many businesses were in dire straits.

Opening Bootleg also meant being able to hire a handful of front-of-house staff, which reinforced just how grim job prospects are for hospo workers at the moment. “We had close to 700 people apply for five jobs,” says Heddles. “And the desperation within those applicants was full on.”

Bootleg soft launches today before officially opening on June 1.

Bootleg Coffee Co
22 Gilbert Street, Adelaide
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm