They know a thing or two about good booze. So we tapped some of Adelaide’s top bartenders, bar managers and bar owners to find out where they head when closing time rolls around. There are likely contenders – Hellbound, Proof, Clever Little Tailor, East End Cellars and The Grace Emily had multiple shout-outs – and a few surprise candidates. Here’s where you’ll catch them on the other side of the bar.
Shane Ettridge – Proof
Most nights of the week you’ll find Shane Ettridge pouring drinks at his West End bar Proof. But on a day off, you’re likely to catch him eastside at his local, The Arab Steed. The historic old boozer – one of the first pubs in the city’s south-east corner – maintains a simple formula: “cold beer and a sense of community”, says Ettridge.
For kick-ons, East End Cellars, just a few streets away, marks the spot. “It’s hard not to end up here,” says Ettridge. “North-facing seating on the street with an insane amount of great wine on offer. Your behaviour might start sophisticated here but it won’t always end that way.”
His “mid-shift break spot” is Clever Little Tailor. “Well thought out beverage list and great chat behind the bar.”
Morgan Collins – Clever Little Tailor
The feeling’s mutual for CLT bar manager Morgan Collins. “Proof is a favourite for a glass of wine and a mushroom toastie, also some of the friendliest bartenders in Adelaide,” she says. “A super-welcoming and unpretentious venue.”
It’s also just down the road from The Grace Emily, where you’ll find Collins at Billy Bob's BBQ Jam. The long-running open-mic night is an institution. And “pretty special”, she says. “There's always some amazing acts that get up on stage and it's always a bunch of fun.” The sausage sizzle out back is a bonus.
When the sun’s out she opts for the East End. Specifically The Exeter – “the best pub in Adelaide” and “the perfect place for a jug of Coopers on a sunny afternoon”. “I'm also a big fan of grabbing a bottle at East End Cellars and sitting out the front with a plate of cheese,” she says. “The East End always feels super relaxed and the front tables get a good dose of sunlight.”
Monica Guilhaus – Port Admiral Hotel
The Grace Emily gets another vote by Port Admiral bar manager Monica Guilhaus. “I have been going here for years to both play and watch live shows,” she says. “You will consistently find me there on a Monday night – the Coopers Dark is always fresh, the pool table works most of the time and you sometimes catch some really awesome blues. I also appreciate the no pokies, no TAB community-driven pub vibe.”
On her day off, you’ll find her at the singular The Summertown Aristologist. “The wine list here is always meticulously curated and alive with cool new things I haven't yet tasted and always showcases incredible local natural winemakers. The venue is stunning and so is the drive up to Summertown itself. [It’s] one of my go-tos on a day off for wine and some fresh bread and butter.
For a classic cocktail, Clever Little Tailor hits the spot. “I spent two years working there so I may be biased, but they still make the best Manhattan in Adelaide,” she says. “[It] also has some of the strongest female bartenders I know, so that’s a huge drawcard.”
For a knock off or two, it’s a quick amble down the road to The Portland Hotel. “This one's a guilty pleasure. Open real late in the Port and often filled with a colourful collection of people at 2am on a Sunday morning, but you can't top iDarts and cheap Jameson.”
Hamish Tregeagle – The Exeter Hotel
“Fridays at the Exeter Hotel are busy,” says Hamish Tregeagle. So after a big lunch service (“yes, The Exeter does food and it’s amazing and if you haven't eaten here you are missing out,” he says) he dodges the after-work crowds at Café Troppo on Whitmore Square. “[It’s] probably better known for breakfast or lunch [but] on a Friday night Troppo extends their hours to 10pm providing a great opportunity to sit outside and enjoy a couple of wines from the Adelaide Hills, paired with simple tasty snacks from their kitchen,” he says. “Great food, good local wines and a selection of tap beers make this my Friday night pick.”
A short stroll from there is the Gilbert Street Hotel, where you’ll often find Tregeagle kicking back with his whippet Ari. “My new Sunday tradition is to walk my dog to the Gilbert Street Hotel late in the afternoon – grabbing a seat outside and enjoying a frosty schooner … while watching the sun set,” he says. “With a large selection of ever-changing tap beers there’s something new to try every time I come here. One thing that hopefully wont change is the thick-cut chips with rosemary salt and garlic aioli. Beer, chips, an Adelaide sunset and my beloved whippet – it’s all I need!”
Closer to work is popular hospo haunt Hellbound, where he heads for “amazing wines” and “incredible food” – specifically the whipped tahini. “If wine isn’t your thing they have Moritz lager on tap as well as a selection of spirits and cocktails,” he says. “Having worked on Rundle Street for the past nine years it’s always nice to see a new place joining the East End fam … you just have to find it first.”
On sunny afternoons you’ll catch him at Proof, with a Campari and soda in one hand (“out of the dozens I have had across Adelaide there is something about [this] one”) and a mortadella toastie in the other. “I love sitting downstairs at the bar watching cocktails get made [and] chatting to the staff.”
When he’s off duty, Hellbound’s Mark “Reggie” Reginato prefers to “get out of the big smoke and take in some fresh air”. It’s a short drive from the city to Lost in a Forest, where he likes to “just hang out on the lawn and grab a pizza and unravel the woes or wins of the previous week – or if it’s chilly, sit by the fire”. “Wines are always on point, with a great array of Ochota Barrels. Maybe even slip in a Pussy Sausage [an eyebrow-raising mezcal Margarita] to complete the trip.”
When he’s down south it’s straight to The Salopian Inn in McLaren Vale. “Every time I go here I promise never to order the same dish – [chef] Karina’s dumplings – but I always do. Delicious, and always washed down with an aromatic white of some description.” But it’s not just about the wines. He’s also sure to hit up “Inn Keeper” Alex Marchetti to “keep up to speed with the gin list”, which is currently sitting at around 250 gins from all over the globe.
Fino Seppeltsfield is where he likes to “escape and indulge”. And it’s hard to find a place that kicks as many goals as this Barossa icon. “The food, tick. The staff, tick. The service, tick. [Fulfilling] my love for fortified wine, tick. Whether it’s just a snack at the bar, or a sit down with friends for the long haul, this team has it covered.”
Marina Tazhdynova – co-owner of West End joints The Bibliotheca Bar & Book Exchange and Red October with husband Roman – has a soft spot for whisky. The latter’s dimly lit basement bar Suzie Wong stocks some 500-odd bottles of the stuff. So it’s no surprise Hyde Street’s clandestine whisky den Baddog is their “all-time favourite” watering hole. “Whiskey and blues! [It] feels like you stepped back in time into a hidden bar during Prohibition days,” says Marina. “Never too crowded and you always get a nice chat with people behind the bar.”
Easier to find is Bibliotheca’s Deep South-inspired next-door neighbour Mississippi Moon, where the Tazhdynovas head for the “friendly staff” and “vinyl tunes”. “Nice place to relax on your knock off,” says Marina. But it’s hard to avoid their own bar. “It really is one of my favourite bars to drink at,” Marina says of Bibliotheca. “Now that I spend more time at its sister venues Red October and Suzie Wong it's so good to finally experience this venue from the customers' side of the bar. It's cosy and intimate, the staff is attentive and knowledgeable. It just feels like home – hopefully not just to me.”
Brad Cameron – The Golden Wattle
When Brad Cameron clocks off from The Golden Wattle he goes underground – to “cosy” basement bar Hellbound. You’ll also find him at 55ml, his choice for a “relaxing beverage – it's small and casual and down to earth,” he says. Another favourite is inner-west institution The Wheatsheaf Hotel for its “lovely selection of beers and unique pub atmosphere”. But if a daytime tipple is in order, it’s straight to Poh Ling Yeow’s Jamface for a bite to eat and a minimal-intervention drop. “It's lovely being able to grab a daytime natural wine in the market.”