Imperial Measures Distilling (IMD) co-founder Chris Jones had been planning to leave his job at Apothecary 1878 for a while. “They were calling me Johnny Farnham towards the end because I kept saying, ‘It’s the last shift; it’s definitely the last shift’,” he says, with a laugh. “It’s been the last shift for about three years.” But he’s finally moved on.
After contract distilling at Applewood for four years, Jones and business partner David Danby moved IMD to its own production facility in Thebarton early this year. By April they were producing the Ounce signature and bold gins, and Ruby Bitter amaro. Increased production allowed them to expand distribution to Melbourne and Sydney. But the biggest change for Adelaide drinkers is they now have an on-site bar.
Perhaps most notably, Ounce Bar at IMD doesn’t have a cocktail list. Instead, Jones and Danby (who also worked at Apothecary, plus Hains & Co and Mother Vine) will “just have a chat to you and build something around your tastes,” says Danby. When Broadsheet visits, we get a cherry Gin Sour made with Ounce’s “bold” gin, Ruby Bitter, cherries and orgeat (a sweet syrup). It looks pretty perfect next to a tinselled-up juniper bush masquerading as a Christmas tree.
The licence also allows Ounce Bar to stock anything that works with Imperial Measures products in a cocktail, including a range of liqueurs and white spirits. “We’ve got bourbons and ryes, but we haven’t got a scotch at the moment,” Danby says. Jones adds: “We’ll find a reason to have one – don’t worry.” There are six wines (by La Prova and Guthrie at the moment) and a single tap beer (Pirate Life Black IPA).
The fit-out was mostly DIY, with a little help from local businesses (and Danby’s dad). Neighbours Pazstone made the granite bar top and large stone table. A swirling solar-system mural by artist Seb Humphreys adorns the wall.
The bar has room for 30 people, but there’s extra seating on comfy leather couches in the warehouse. From behind a picket fence of barrel staves, watch the Imperial Measures team (and tenants Never Never Distilling Co) at work – while enjoying the fruits of their labours.