December 5, 2019
Wine & Dine

Where to drink: Adelaide’s best bars

Dive into some of Josh Fanning's favourites from Adelaide's burgeoning small bar scene, as well as some more established institutions that define drinking out in the city.

Hey Jupiter

There was a moment in the city’s (recent) history when French cuisine died. Hey Jupiter brought good French fare back to life in Adelaide after the closure of La Guillotine on Gouger Street. Christophe and Jacqui run this modern brasserie with absolute dedication. The recent introduction of dinner has been a hit, but – for this writer – breakfast is where it’s at. Order the continental breakfast and a Bloody Mary. Made with celery salt and harissa for spice, Hey Jupiter’s Bloody Mary is the best in town. 

La Buvette

Cut straight out of a backstreet in Paris, stepping into La Buvette is like crossing a threshold into the 11th Arrondissement, quartier populaire. Head straight to the bar and ask for a wine from the Auvergne region. If a man in a flat cap is serving you, he will raise an eyebrow and quickly usher you to the best seat in the house, uncork the bottle at the table and treat you as a VIP in his establishment evermore. La Buvette is the home of natural wine in Adelaide, but if fruit-forward and “funky” wine isn’t your thing, then try a Picon Biere and have a chew on some confit frog legs. The charcuterie board is something else to write home about too because, here, you’re in Paris m’dear.

Golden Wattle

One of the most unexpected and marvellous venues in the city, the Golden Wattle was established by approximately 100 bartender and chef owners in 2018, which means (as anyone who’s ever owned a business will know) they are open long hours and work bloody hard. This also means the food is well above standard for pub fare and the beers have been chosen with care. The Golden Wattle’s selection of Australian canned beer is a particular drawcard as you’ll be able to sample such classics as Emu Export and Cascade lager here.

Pink Moon Saloon 

Some of the finest-crafted cocktails and paper-thin, wood-oven-roasted potato chips you’ll ever taste, Pink Moon Saloon is a haven for those who want to escape the same-old-same-old. The twin timber huts encapsulate this city’s most unique hospitality experience and whether you’re ordering a Bellini or Balter ale, you’ll be surprised by just how much you enjoy it in this little cabin on Leigh Street.

The Stag Public House

Looking for a pub to watch the footy in that doesn’t also have the Keno on? The Stag Hotel was recently re-invented by the clever minds behind NOLA on Vardon Avenue. This 21st century version of a pub is equal measures nostalgia and modern updates. Craft labels have replaced much of the bulk beer you once found here, and new felt on the billiard table in the front bar beckons for an extended bout of Kelly Pool on a wintry afternoon.

Udaberri Pinxtos y Vino

This former Flight Centre on Leigh Street is credited with starting the small bar scene in Adelaide. When Udaberri opened, you could feel the mood shift and the expectations of Adelaide drinkers jump. Bartender knowledge is on-point but unpretentious here; order yourself some banderillas on arrival and a dry martini. If olives aren’t your thing – and you have time – order a txuleta (huge rib-eye steak) and a bottle of something Spanish from the list and get comfortable in the just-built green leather booths upstairs. With some of Adelaide’s most selective DJs playing each night, the atmosphere at Udaberri constantly teeters on a full-blown party, but the mezzanine is a particularly good spot to enjoy the best of a busy bar, while avoiding the wait times as you enjoy first-rate service at your table.

Proof

The official first bar under the Labor Government’s Small Venue License, Proof juts out from the back of sister restaurant Press* and does more in a few square metres than many bars could do with a thousand. You’re always drinking something new on their wine list and it’s worth giving co-owner Shane Ettridge’s label Hills Collide a slurp. Get a toasty toastie and sit at the western end of the bar while you watch Adelaide knock off work and slowly roll through the door. Perfect winter people-watching guaranteed. 

Baddog

There is no more celebrated an order at a bar in the United States than a “shot and a beer”. Whiskey – in particular – is the spirit of America, but right here in Adelaide you can have that moment of movie-like perfection when you push through the timber door with no name on Hyde Street in the city. If Adelaide had a speakeasy, Baddog would be it. Moodily lit and moodily tended, this bar is only for the confident connoisseur of brown spirits. For added mirth, head along on a Friday night, when Baddog converts itself into a juke joint for Adelaide’s best blues and roots musicians. 

Ying Chow 

The best BYO in Adelaide without a doubt, Ying Chow – Adelaide’s most famous Chinese restaurant – charges just $3 per head for corkage. That’s not $3 per bottle, but $3 for unlimited amounts of booze. This city life hack is granted to you in confidence you will share the information selectively and with only your closest compatriots.

Exeter Hotel

Kevin Gregg is a publican of some renown; Kevin exudes a comfortable charisma of someone who’s “seen it all”. He won’t bat an eyelid when you order a bottle of Krug with your steak sandwich at midday on a Monday. He won’t blush when the boss of Krug comes to his pub with all sorts of wine royalty and hangers-on. No, the lovable thing about this pub is its utter unflappableness. One pint of Coopers Sparkling please, and, thank you.

 

Directory

Udaberri Pinxtos y Vino
11 Leigh Street Adelaide 

La Buvette
27 Gresham Street, Adelaide 

Baddog
63 Hyde Street, Adelaide 

Exeter Hotel
246 Rundle Street, Adelaide 

Proof
9 Anster Street, Adelaide 

Ying Chow
114 Gouger Street, Adelaide 

Hey Jupiter
11 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide 

Golden Wattle
110 Pirie Street, Adelaide 

Pink Moon Saloon
21 Leigh Street, Adelaide 

The Stag Public House
299 Rundle Street, Adelaide

 

This article first appeared in the SALIFE FOOD & WINE LIST 2019. 

 

 

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