It’s a good time to be drinking in Adelaide – and in 2022, that goes for teetotallers as well. We’re only at the halfway mark of the year, but already a throng of new bar openings have caught our eye.
There were new small bars, yes, but there were also family-friendly pubs with sprawling gardens for kids to run around while parents kick back with a beer paddle or gin flight. And a multifaceted venue that brings multiple businesses under the one roof to an under-serviced corner of the city.
Here are seven of our favourite newcomers, two of which namecheck the past. And if you missed last week’s round-up of Adelaide’s best restaurant openings of 2022 (so far), here it is.
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99 Gang Social, CBD
The Asian-leaning burgers at Gang Gang are some of Adelaide’s best. But at the team’s late-trading bar and diner – which opened on Hindley Street in late December, narrowly missing our best of 2021 wrap – they give a nostalgic nod to the US, courtesy of co-owner Nina Hadinata’s time spent living in LA. Burgers here include the 101 (beef, provolone, grilled onion and French mustard), named after the iconic highway; the Coastline (a fried fish sandwich with pickled daikon, American cheese and spicy sauce); and the Route 66 (Nashville hot chicken, butter pickles, house-made dill ranch, iceberg lettuce and American cheese). While the Asian throughline found at Gang Gang is less prominent here, inspiration from across the Pacific comes in other forms. You might see cheeseburger dumplings, beef rendang served in mini hoagie rolls, and crisp onigiri-style rice “toast”. The drinks list is big on classic cocktails – Mojitos, Mai Tais and more – perfect for cutting loose on the dance floor, which kicks off after dinner service (complete with floating DJ booth and a shining disco ball above). There’s also a new monthly wine club featuring a series of tastings and a paired dinner menu.
Brightstar Brewing, Thebarton
After living in Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore before returning to Adelaide in 2019, Megan and Gareth Parker set about transforming the former Adelaide University laboratories – in the industrial backstreets of Thebarton – into a Central European-inspired brewery and taphouse. The family-friendly spot, which opened in March, has decking overlooking a licensed park out front on the banks of the Torrens. And a spacious tasting room that lets guests peer into the brewing process, which includes traditional European techniques such as spunding – a natural carbonation process to make the bubbles in the beer small, creating a creamier mouthfeel – and longer lagering time, to achieve a “more balanced and refined” beer. There’s also a focus on classic Central-Euro styles such as the nutty and sweet altbier, the dark lager-like schwarzbier, the light and crisp helles, and the tart Berliner weisse. Beyond the beers, there’s also house-brewed seltzers and house-distilled gin made with hops, plus beer-based cocktails and a concise food menu featuring a popular Reuben sandwich.
Grunthal Brew, Verdun
Earlier this year, Udder Delights owners Sheree and Saul Sullivan launched a new hospitality hub in Verdun – at the former site of Hills institution Grumpy’s Brewhaus. The project brings together their cheese brand (relocated from its Hahndorf site), a microbrewery, a cellar door, a restaurant and a greenhouse offering tasting experiences and cheesemaking masterclasses. The core beer range includes a crisp lager; an easy-drinking session ale; an approachable pale ale; a smooth stout; a fruity XPA; a big, boozy double IPA; and a hazy NEIPA (New England IPA). Try a bit of everything with the Grunthal Beer Paddle – or order the Grunthal Gin or Hesketh Wine flights. (The Sullivans teamed up with Hesketh Winery to add a cellar door concept to the hospo hub.) The restaurant pays homage to Grumpy’s, the site’s former pizza bar and brewhouse, with a menu of classic pizzas alongside a selection of small plates, including cheeseburger spring rolls, mini brioche with Ferguson southern rock lobster, build-your-own duck bao buns, and a truffle cheddar toastie.
Hard Day’s Night, CBD
This multifaceted venue feels a little like walking into someone’s (well-catered) house party. The eclectic drinking and dining hall features neon signs beaming alongside retro decor, and a beer garden lit up with fairy lights. It’s the work of partners Ricky Hulme and Jordan Neave (co-owners of Caravino Events), who have teamed up with Shifty Lizard Brewing Co’s Danny Strapps to house a collective of businesses under the one roof – in a spacious warehouse in the CBD’s south-west. It's a market Hulme reckons has been under-served for some time (“A lot of people have said that the area needed a place like this”). Hulme and Neave also run food truck Whoopi Goldburger (which is stationed inside the warehouse and turns out a neat six burgers and four sides, including plant-based and gluten-free options) and their Caravino coffee van will be parked in the courtyard from 7am to 2pm, Wednesdays to Sundays. As for the booze, there’s Shifty Lizard beers, gins by Never Never Distilling Co and Soul Bird, wines by Alpha Box & Dice, and vegan cocktails. Also sharing the space is an ’80s-inspired wedding booth, the Wild Klub.
Leigh Street Luggage, CBD
At the close of 2020, Julie Barnes said bon voyage to Leigh Street Luggage, her travel goods business of 40 years. Now the longstanding site has reopened, but this time it’s functioning as a Mediterranean-inspired cocktail bar. The name and shopfront are the same, but inside it’s very, very different. Still, there are plenty of call-backs. A photo of Barnes as a flight attendant in 1972 hangs on the wall, along with vintage luggage pieces and an airplane propellor next to a wine rack. Co-owner and bartender Shahin Chegini has assembled a drinks list with a focus on amari, vermouth and cocktails. There’s also a rotating list of local craft beers (Lobethal Bierhaus and Little Bang included) and largely European wines, plus a handful of local drops from established winemakers such as Henschke. A simple food menu sticks to cured meats and cheeses. Out the back, a tiny, more casual, dimly lit bar – built in what was the storeroom of the old shop – is serving boutique whiskies, gin and toasties.
Silver Sands Beach Club, Aldinga
Aldinga’s new Silver Sands Beach Club is a surf club, but not as you know it. Since opening two months ago, the 120-seat bar and dining room inside the refurbished Aldinga Bay Surf Life Saving Club has been a magnet for city folk and locals alike. It’s little wonder, with owner-operators Mark Kamleh (Tiger Mountain, Syrian Mobile Disco) and Nick Stock (a respected wine critic and Tasting Australia’s beverage director) behind it; prime ocean views; and a coastal-inspired menu alongside pub classics including a prawn cocktail bun, kingfish crudo, Kinkawooka mussels with fries, and grilled swordfish – plus pizza, lasagne, a cheeseburger and a chicken schnitzel. The wine list combines Fleurieu producers such as Alpha Box & Dice with a hefty list of premium internationals (think premier cru burgundy and chablis) curated by Stock.
The longstanding tobacconist, which operated next to the Exeter Hotel for more than 50 years before closing in 2019, lit up again over summer – as a wine and cocktail bar by long-serving Exeter barman Hamish Tregeagle. Another bar paying homage to the past, Smokelovers has kept the name, but the only smoke you’ll find nowadays is in the smoky-mezcal Margarita. In a departure from his previous workplace, cocktails and wines are the focus here. Expect a couple of spritzes, a few classics (a Negroni, Americano and Whiskey Sour among them) and an approachable, wide-reaching wine list. There's lo-fi Hills producers like Basket Range and Commune of Buttons, new-school young guns like Hills Collide and Frederick Stevenson and a classic pinot noir from Sidewood Estate. Plus, a strong showing of French and Italian wines by the bottle. Beers also run the gamut, from a Bridge Road sour to a Coopers sparkling ale. After years of pulling tap beers next door (“there’s some repetitive strain injury,” jokes Tregeagle), you’ll only find them by the bottle or can here. Food is limited to simple bites such as olives, cheese, tinned Cuca anchovies and Soiboii bread.