By Kim Lamb
Just like when your husband unpacks the dishwasher, finding new Adelaide bars is something I secretly pine for now living in Melbourne. In fact, you’ll often find me talking about this street called Peel to my Melburnian work colleagues, those who’ll make eye contact with me on the tram, the lady down the road with her three cats – anyone who’ll listen really.
It’s no revelation that I REALLY miss Adelaide wine bars, and Adelaide bars that serve wine, with their non-Marlborough wine lists. Honestly, finding a Shaw and Smith on a Melbourne wine list is like winning the Home Lottery. Same odds.
Feeling like a distant lover, last year I asked my Adelaide girl squad to organise a bar crawl so I could introduce myself to the new guys on the grid (you can read about that here).
Having had so much fun, I decided that a famil of the best new Shiraz-serving city venues was a worthy birthday present again this year, calling on my Adelaide wine sisters, Alison and Bel, to step up as wine-toting tour guides once again.
Top 5: Adelaide’s best new bars
:: Level 13, 45 King William Street, Adelaide
(08) 8210 8888
Looking out across the Adelaide cityscape and hills, with a glass of Veuve in hand, Hennesy Rooftop bar is the ultimate pre-drinks venue. Perched on top of the new Mayfair Hotel, which is an absolute head-hitting-pillow favourite of mine, the elegance of this boutique baby hotel extends through to its rooftop bar, with decadence dripping from the chandeliers and tudor-style roof panelling. The tough decisions here are whether to sit inside or outside, in a cosy nook or a communal table, and then whether you drink Vueve or Mumm.
:: 21 Leigh Street, Adelaide
Who would have thought you’d find a little log cabin (serving up a carefully-curated drinks menu, no less) wedged into Adelaide’s cityscape? But wander down Leigh Street and you can fool yourself for thinking you’re in the woods – at least for the four metres of pavement this cute little bar dominates. Shovelling up quirkiness in spades, we stopped here for a lazy drink in the internal courtyard and a few nibblettes, pretending we were camping in the mid-west of America, toasting marshmallows and playing our ukuleles.
Next stop on our bar crawl was the old heritage-listed Electra House building that’s been transformed from derelict to designer, using a monochrome colour palette and on-point plant life. Spread over three floors, just like shopping at Burnside, it’s hard not to find something you like here. Settle in to the downstairs restaurant-slash-bar, which makes the most of its Art Deco ancestry, original ornate pillars and giraffe-like ceilings; try the football screen and fern-adorned beer garden; the upstairs Japanese restaurant that’s aptly-named Level One; or the random pokies room (don’t tell Xenophon).
Regardless of the slot machines, Electra House is a terribly sophisticated complex, and complex is the bang-on word to describe it. I felt cheated to leave after one drink but on we went.
:: 4 Topham Mall, Adelaide
(08) 8410 7608
When I lived in Adelaide, the highlight of a Topham Mall visit was getting stuck in the UPark lift. Now there’s bagels, flowers, Asian fusion yuminess in the form of Kang Kong and this cute little micro-brewery named after Lady Burra.
If you know your largers from your pale ales (I don’t), Lady Burra Brewhouse is no doubt a form of paradise, with lots of artisan brewed-on-site beers to choose from and a fully-functional brewery to admire. Of course, I snobbed all of these yeast-based choices for the wine list. If you’re on the fence, try a brewtail – the Beergarita sounded intriguing…
Admittedly, I don’t like beer, but you don’t have to like beer to appreciate the space. It’s fun sitting amidst the indoor/outdoor brewery, with its street art, repurposed wood and winks to industrialism, plus a kitchen to feed the hungry.
We found that it was also a great place to take some glamour selfies.
:: 260a Rundle Street, Adelaide
Throw a barber shop, sound studio, delicatessen and a bar in a blender and you get the uber cool, New York City-inspired BRKLYN. Overlooking Rundle Street, this very new, multi-purpose venue is so Brooklyn (and also aptly-named), with its exposed brick, and industrial speakeasy vibe. Expect plenty of cocktails that pay homage to NYC, but also lots of international beers and South Australian wines, which naturally made my heart tweet like a bird.
At 1am on a Saturday night this place was heaving with people – happy, unpretentious people – all enjoying the beats and oddness of the next-door sound studio. BRKLYN is real and fun, and a dance off may have happened before I finally turned into a pumpkin and called it a night.
So which one was my favourite? Tough, tough call. By a chocolate sprinkle it would have to be BRKLYN, baby.