Adelaide isn’t really one that pops into your mind when you think of a bustling bar scene but there’s a small bar scene revolution putting the rad back in Radelaide.
With the passing of the small bar license laws, there has been an emergence of cool little bars popping up around the otherwise quiet little city. There’s no shortage of fun, design and imagination here and there’s a real focus on being ‘non-wanky’. These bars will rival any from the hippest places in Melbourne and Sydney.
“They’ve definitely encouraged more people to get out of the house and and enjoy a whole new generation of Adelaide bars. Now that they’ve opened and had a bit of a play to found their niche, come Mad March and the Fringe season, I really hope to see a boost in tourism to put Adelaide back on the map, and a new contender to flaunt our beautiful and passionate nightlife.”
Cian McNamara, Manager of iconic Adelaide bar: Fumo Blu
1. Ancient World
After enjoying success during the Fringe Festival, Ancient World has become a permanent fixture in the Adelaide small bar scene. As an aficionado of finding secret and hidden bars all over the world, part of Ancient World’s appeal is that it is so hard to find. Ready for instructions on how to find it? “It’s off Hindley St to the left, between a sausage shop and a porno store”. This bar, gallery, café, live music venue and native plant retailer sits on an unnamed alley way. Ancient World has been described as “slightly more organised than a summer house party”, which is reason enough to go there, there’s only so many ‘premium’ bars I can take. They’ve got some killer live bands every Friday and Saturday night. Run by David Apps and Brad Cameron (the same guy who runs the multi-genre festival, Lost City), so you know there’ll be good tunes. Their drinks menu is as locally sourced and as ethical as possible. This is a place you have to check out.
2. Downtown HBCD
Here’s another one for Hindley St, filling up one of the many vacant spaces now lining the street. Downtown HDCB is a hot dog joint but there’s a cool dive bar that resides in the back. Apart from hot dogs, you can also get USA ribs, a fried chicken bucket and jalapeno peppers or if you’re in the adventurous mood there’s the ‘Suicide’ wings they’re apparently “f*cking hot”. The décor really blends well with the divey atmosphere of its surrounds, but also gives you that grimey street that you’ll swear feels just like New York. They’ve also got an extensive and entertaining cocktail menu. They’ve got interesting choices like “Singapore Slurry” or my personal favourite name for a cocktail ever: “Adios muthafukkkaaa!”
3. Bank Street Social
Talk about underground bars, this one’s literally underground. You go into a small door on Bank St and you go way down a flight of stairs, into an amazing 240 square metres of pure awesomeness. There’s a real speakeasy meets industrial air to this watering hole, characterised by exposed brick, squishy Chesterfield-backed booths with plenty of space for large groups, hooded lighting and exposed pipes. Although another bar based on a New York aesthetic, this bar is proud to call Adelaide home with old-timey photos of good old Adelaide displayed on the walls. The Bank Street Social is unashamedly very exclusive; limited membership is by invitation only, it’s more about networking and building a community of local professionals. Cocktail evenings, tasting nights with local winemakers and brewers, and tickets to future live music events will be available to members.
4. Four Doors Plus One
This hip little place on Hindley St stands out with its famous emerald walls. The five bi-fold doors at the front of the building sets the theme for the whole bar with everything in groups of five: five gins, five single malt whiskeys, five beers, five wines, unfortunately though not everything was for five bucks. Four Doors is not pretentious and all are welcome, reminding me of inner west Sydney or Portland. No need to suit up. There are also five cheeses to choose from, along with a selection of antipasti to line your stomach for one of the things that don’t come in five – rum, there’s a lot of that.
5. Clever Little Tailor
A vintage store in a past life but there’s definitely nothing old-hat about this bar focused on quality liquor and delicious bar snacks. Clever Little Tailor attracts a diverse range of customers, from the after-work crowd to those just wanting a quiet relaxed drink in a new but classic space. It’s a small space, with only 70 pax, so make sure to nab yourself a booth on the upper mezzanine or a table downstairs. Be prepared and know what you want when you order drinks though, as there’s no actual cocktail list for that. Alternatively just ask the bartender what they recommend and you should be sweet.
Where’s the coolest small bar in Australia. Leave us a comment below to let us know about your favourite watering hole.
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