Wine and cocktail bar Leigh Street Luggage opens in CBD

the European-inspired wine and cocktail bar has transformed the former travel retailer, paying homage to its history and travel inspiration throughout.

Image credit: winedinephotography

Leigh Street has gained another wine and cocktail bar, with the highly-anticipated Leigh Street Luggage opening its doors just in time for Adelaide’s glorious summer months. 

Taking over the former travel retailer from which it gets its namesake, the European-inspired bar has transformed the iconic Leigh Street Luggage storefront, slinging spritz and pouring nips of strong spirits inside a timeless fit-out. 

“The way we serve and interact with people is a mirror on themselves,” says Managing Director, Shahin Chegini, who co-owns the bar besides Robbie Behard, Andrew Razzano and Josh Fileti. 

“We hope to be somewhere where the place is relaxed, but the service is on point.”

The experience of Leigh Street Luggage occurs in two stages. It’s the perfect place for sophisticated drinkers, the CBD’s after-work crowds, and surprisingly, the precincts’ late-night revellers.

Walking into the narrow bar, you’re greeted with an impressive array of amaro, vermouths and digestifs – a 50/50 split between local produce and European regulars. 

“We’re mixing old world and new world together – from the wines and cocktails…that’s the charm we’d like to have,” says Shahin. 

Cheese and charcuterie sourced from local producers complement the wine and cocktail list, with the bar planning on expanding its food offerings in the new year. 

As your night continues, and the wine and spirits keep flowing, discovering Leigh Street Luggage’s hidden bar, Never Mind, feels like a godsend. Behind a sliding door, the exposed brick and red-lit cocktail den is a world away from the adjoining front bar. 

“We aren’t purposely trying to hide it, but it’s hidden by nature,” says Shahin.

“[People] have a few drinks in the front, and discover the back as they go and the night goes on.

Without ever leaving the venue, you transcend into the part of your evening where your worries and inhibitions wash away.

“It’s quite different and polarising in a sense that you find yourself. When you’re out on your best behaviour, the front bar is the place you want to go. And when you let your guard down, Never Mind is at the back…the good times are all from back here.”

As for drinks, Leigh Street Luggage is pouring cocktails that’ll take your taste buds on a trip to the Amalfi coastline, serving usual suspects like Aperol Spritz and Negronis. Although they’re pouring European classics to customers, Leigh Street Luggage has also created an array of cocktails with a twist. 

Shahin developed a line of baby martinis, taking the strong pour and shrinking it into a palatable size. Taste the flavours of a mini martini, expertly crafted with umami pink pepper gin and botanicals such as capers and parmesan. The snack-sized spirit allows you to taste your way through the cocktail list without winding up a little wobbly. 

If spritz is more your style, Leigh Street Luggage is also slinging a tarragon and cherry spritz – intertwining the subtle spice with a homemade sour cherry syrup and pampelle, before topping it off with sloe gin and soda water.

The cocktail is perfect for cooling off after a hot summers day, and as Shahin says, you’ll have one sip and “all your worries wash away.”

Out back, sip on creative passionfruit sour beer slushies and stronger nips of bourbon and whiskey as your night continues on. 

As Adelaide began to evolve and shift focus, the history imbued in its buildings has faded. While Leigh Street Luggage no longer sells suitcases and travel goods, Shahin says the bar wanted to continue the legacy and history of the storefront and street, choosing to honour the past, not ignore it. 

“We’ve taken over the tenancy here and we really wanted to pay homage to what this building once was, and particularly the street as well,” says Shahin. “This used to be the travelling precinct of the city…the last one standing was Leigh Street Luggage.”

“We wanted to keep the last thing that was a memento of what the precinct was.

“We’ve found a lot of people who came here have had a connection to Leigh Street Luggage – both young and old.”  

After closing the travel retailer after 40 years at the helm, previous owner Julie Barnes inspiration and the iconic legacy still travel through to store.

Paraphernalia from the former Leigh Street Luggage store is intertwined seamlessly throughout the design of the bar – including an old jet propeller that shines beside the impressive rows of sparkling wine. Outback, vintage suitcases are scattered amongst the periphery of Never Mind, a sweet yet subtle reminder to what used to be the retailer’s former storeroom.  

“Julie was quite a personality and an air hostess for many years – she is beautiful. She opened up this shop and she had the stories and the beautiful Louis Vuitton luggage,” says Shahin.

“We’ve had people who have come to see what we’ve done, and a lot of people have said we’ve managed to capture the essence of the shop in the bar.”

As the year comes to a close, you can expect big things from Leigh Street Luggage in 2022, which hope to leave their mark on Adelaide’s evolving small bar scene.

“Adelaide has gone through a resurgence of the bar scene maturing– I wanted to be a part of that,” says Shahin.

“We’re on our first leap of faith here…we want this place to become an institution, and we will have succeeded once we look that way.”

You will find Leigh Street Luggage at 22a Leigh St, Adelaide SA 5000

Keep up to date with Leigh Street Luggage on Instagram here.

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