Stock the Bar
A BELOVED APERITIF TOASTS ITS HOMETOWN IN A SPIRITED CANALSIDE DISTILLERY
STORY _Josh Greenblatt PHOTOS _Helenio Barbetta
Select, the ruby-red aperitif and key ingredient in a Venetian spritz, is less a cocktail than an emblem of Venetian culture. So when the brand commissioned Andrea Marcante and Adelaide Testa of Turin-based architecture firm MarcanteTesta to design its new distillery, Ca’ Select, the pair was eager to bring the city’s history to the fore. It helped that the canalside location Select had chosen provided a large canvas with its own rich industrial character. “Our initial impression [of a site] is a moment that we try to fix in our mind, because it’s sort of a guide for the project,” says Testa.
In a city known for its dark, narrow watering holes, the space that she and Marcante arrived at — a 690-square-metre former metalworking shop in the quiet Cannaregio district — was unusually large. “It’s very rare in Venice to find a place so big,” says Marcante. “So somewhere like this is…” He pauses; “Exceptional,” finishes Testa. Besides keeping the property’s wooden ceiling trusses — “Always maintain something of the original architecture,” says Testa — the designers also worked to preserve the feeling of that first big reveal. A long, tiled entrance hallway now alludes to Venice’s historic sotoportego passages, which cut through buildings to lead from the street into small courtyards or squares. “It creates this surprising effect of transitioning from a narrow alley to suddenly finding oneself in a spacious area,” the duo explains. From there, the firm’s transformation spreads a production facility, visitor centre and bar across two floors. Throughout the project, the material and colour palette honour Venice’s long tradition of craftsmanship. Fabrics by Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish artist and fashion designer who later made Venice his home, cover the walls of the mezzanine tasting area with intricate floral patterns. Fortuny lamps also illuminate the wavy blue fused-glass bar countertops, which London-based glass studio WonderGlass handcrafted at its Venice manufacturing centre to evoke the flow of water. At the bar, a lighting feature reproduces Select’s logo — a tall goblet — in Murano glass, while the terrazzo floor combines blue marble inlays with red glass chips that reflect the spirit’s signature hue. Upstairs, a raised walkway features an interactive experience (curated by the Italian design collective Studio Fludd) where visitors can watch the distillation process through a glass partition — perhaps while unwinding with an aperitivo in hand.