Most retailers start with a physical store then launch a website. But Drnks isn’t most retailers – it began as an online store in 2013 and helped pioneer Australia’s natural wine movement; it was at the forefront of introducing Sydney to styles of wine that are now staples in pubs, bottle shops and restaurants. Now, in a reversal of tradition, Drnks’ online store has spawned a physical space. This week it opened in an Alexandria warehouse – its second foray into bricks and mortar, after opening a bottle-o in Waterloo’s The George Hotel in 2019 (it was a casualty of the pandemic). Owner Joel Amos says the new store is simply a continuation of what Drnks does online.
“We’re quite streamlined with how everything operates,” he tells Broadsheet. “And it literally runs as an extension of the shop. It’s exactly how it works on the website.”
That includes the 10 per cent discount when you buy six or more bottles of vino, the pre-selected wine packs and even delivery – if you don’t want to lug two cases of wine home, Drnks can drop it at your doorstep. And while physical stores tend to be more expensive than online, Drnks’ prices for both are the same. “It’s a physical manifestation of online,” says Amos.
Broadsheet Access members get special tables at busy restaurants, tickets to exclusive events and discounts on food, coffee, brand offers and more.Find out more
And if you know Drnks stocks a product but can’t see it in the shelves, it’s easy for the staff to grab it from out back.
Blond wood shelves stock bottles to the left as you walk in, while on the right there are wine freezers and a range of what they call “Not Drnks”: Chappy’s crisps, ferments and condiments, spreads and coffee beans. A deli fridge holds cured meats and charcuterie from LP’s Quality Meats and you can also pick up ceramics from Belles Hot Chicken’s Morgan McGlone and Maison Balzac homewares. Everything has been priced by hand using an old-school pricing gun.
A “pyramid” of Cantina Ok!’s new sparkling seltzer occupies space in the centre of the room, and other displays show off bottles of Susucaru rosato and Momento Mori’s Fistful of Flowers (both perfect Christmas-season vinos). And, of course, there’s other fun drops by Aussie winemakers such as Lucy M and Basket Range, as well as bottles from France, Italy and beyond. You’ll also find local and international spirits, and beers by Sydney breweries. And you can even get Jovi’s burger kits, which were a hit during lockdown.
Amos has come full circle – before he started Drnks he worked as a bottle-shop manager.
“I love having people coming into the space,” he says. “It’s actually something we discussed – like, how weird, having conversations, which none of us have done for so long. A lot of people that we only ever speak to on email are now coming in and saying hi.”