Behind the imposing double doors and black stone facade of a former adult bookstore on Melbourne Street, a transformation is taking place. The ground floor of the building is being turned into Twenty Third Street on Melbourne, which will provide a city base for Renmark's Twenty Third Street Distillery and its parent company, the Bickford's Group.
Exposed-brick walls and stained timber dominate the interior, which also has a colourful mural created by local artist Julia Townsend. Her work adorns the label of Twenty Third Street's Australian Vodka. Next to those bottles is a small copper still to let you know that the venue won't technically join the ranks of Adelaide's small bars. Though there's only room for 70 people – including a small outdoor area – Twenty Third Street will operate under a producer's licence.
All the distilling will still take place in Renmark, but that licence allows the bar to sell takeaway alcohol. Group venues manager Renee Bezzina tells Broadsheet the bar will offer personalised bottle service – you can purchase and label your own bottle, then have drinks poured from it whenever you visit.
Alongside Twenty Third Street's gin, vodka, whisky and brandy, the bar will be stocked with a range of beverages from the distillery's parent company. Those include Bickford's cordials and soft drinks, Beresford Wines, VOK liqueurs, Beenleigh rum and Vale Brewing.
Even the glassware comes from Wheel & Barrow, which is also part of the group – just about the only things behind the bar that won't come from the portfolio are specialty items such as bitters and vermouth. They'll be used in what Bezzina describes as “a classic cocktail list”. There'll also be four rotating beer taps, and a compact kitchen providing simple offerings like cheese boards and pizzas.
Melbourne Street is not renowned for its nightlife and has proven a tough location for other venues, but Bezzina says the bar will be “predominantly about the experiences; it will be a destination.” To that end, there's a spot set aside at the end of the bar for events such as gin-blending sessions, cocktail masterclasses and beer, gin and rum flights.
Upstairs, a three-bedroom apartment has been converted into offices so the venue will be open by appointment during the day, as well as evening trading hours from Wednesday to Sunday.
Twenty Third Street on Melbourne will open on November 8.