Adelaide’s small bar scene is seriously legit. Peel Street, Leigh Street and Rundle Street are a heartland of inviting little drinking dens. And just when you think the scene is a solid A, a new cool cat boozer opens its doors.
But, now that I live in Sydney, I’m mostly oblivious to these new bars in town. So, it’s become a tradition. Once a year, I call on my Adelaide wine sisters, Bel and Ali, to step up as wine quaffing tour guides and take me on a sightsee of the best new Adelaide bars that have sprouted since I last turned my back. This is where we went last year and the year before that. And time has come to do it all again.
Golly gumdrops, get excited because these five new Adelaide city bars are goodies:
1. Hains and Co
First stop with my investigative drinking boots on is Hains and Co. This nautical-themed bar is tucked into the same Adelaide laneway as the 24-hour Original Pancake Kitchen (important if you’re out after 2am, and craving a maple syrup-slathered stack of pancakes).
With so many maritime nods, Hains and Co will make you question whether you’ve unknowingly come aboard a boat. Especially given rum and gin are the drinks of choice here. But there’s also a decent range of other spirits, wine and beer – the latter you order in the sizes of dingy, tanker and tall ship (in case there aren’t enough nautical wink-nudges).
Naturally, the big kahuna-sized bar opens out onto the front deck, so us drunken sailors outside can sit and watch some serious cocktail-making in action. I visited on a winter’s night, and while there’s café blinds and heaters doing a fine job taking on the cold, you don’t need to be a cocktail scientist to see how this inside-outside bar will go off in summer.
Hains and Co | 23 Gilbert Place, Adelaide, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8410 7088
2. Therapy Cocktail Bar
Next up, we’re headed to the nucleus of Adelaide’s bar scene: Peel Street. Underneath this cobblestone, pedestrian-only laneway is a basement bar so new you can still smell the fresh paint. Note: it’s also so deep underground, there’s no phone coverage.
I feel like Therapy Cocktail Bar has been transported Wizard of Oz-style from New York to Adelaide, as this dimly-lit bunker is NYC luxe. There’s over-stuffed booths, candlelight and table service, making it a genuinely inviting space. I’m almost certain you’re not going to complain about sitting here and ruminating over an old fashioned, or three.
With more than 100 cocktails on the menu, cocktail-making at Therapy Cocktail Bar is a serious sport, The operation is so slick that the crew use the best spirits, make their own mixers and moonlight as cocktail educators, all too happy to share their secrets. Oh, and there’s gourmet toasties!
Sounds like pretty good therapy to me. I wonder if Medibank will agree?
Therapy Cocktail Bar | 2 Peel Street, Adelaide, South Australia
3. 2nd & 6th
I first thought this place was named after two of New York’s avenues (clearly NYC is on the brain). But, no, this little upstairs-downstairs bar on Peel Street is named after the 2nd and 6th deadly sins: greed and gluttony. Sounds right up my alley, given I am a greedy and gluttonous wine monster.
Although this one isn’t exclusively for those on a liquid diet, there’s also a European-inspired lunch and dinner menu. And one look at Instagram tells you you’re in for a treat, with some fancy looking dishes coming out of the kitchen. Probably no surprise given Michelin-starred chef Pierre Richez is at the hot plate. Although I might pass on the trio of escargot.
2nd & 6th | 12 Peel Street, Adelaide, South Australia
Phone: (08) 7221 1979
4. Mr Goodbar
After stopping for dinner at Shobosho (and eating delicious Japanese food in little booth houses), we were off to the East End of Adelaide for the final two bars of our bar creep.
Ok, so Mr Goodbar isn’t a complete newborn (it opened just over 12 months ago) but it damn well deserves a mention. Split over two levels of a heritage-listed building – with some very beautiful old worldy windows looking down on Ebenezer Place to prove it – Mr Goodbar has pedigree, run by some of the country’s best bar magicians.
This Adelaide bar also has a moody atmosphere, taking inspiration from the Deep South of America. They do an impressive espresso martini (not that I normally like my coffee in martini form). And, on the weekends, there’s a DJ in the house. Although, when we were here, we were convinced we could do better, and commandeered the decks, plugging in our iPhones. Mr von DJ didn’t agree when a Spotify ad came on. Whoops! Yep, we’ll just go back to drinking our espresso martinis.
Mr Goodbar | 12 Union Street, Adelaide, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8223 7574
5. The Propaganda Club
Finally, this is the place you come for a nightcap and the post-midnight munchies, especially if those munchies involve a craving for caviar. Adelaide’s first late-night supper club is reminiscent of a bygone era, with beaded chandeliers, velvet booths and ultra sophisticated surroundings. There is definitely some cues from New York City here, and I’m not imagining it this time.
Plus, serving meals until 2am (doors close at 3am), maybe there’s no need for the Original Pancake Kitchen after all.
The Propaganda Club | 110 Grenfell Street, Adelaide, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8223 6411
So, which Adelaide bar was my favourite in 2017?
It’s a tight race between Mr Goodbar (because it’s fun) and Therapy Cocktail Bar (because it’s inviting). But, there’s one thing I’m certain of, and that’s Adelaide’s small bar scene is well fertilised and thriving.