Melbourne might be famous for its laneway bars, but Adelaide gives it a run for its money! There are dozens of cute little bars tucked down side streets and back alleys, on hidden rooftops a laneways. When it comes to bars Adelaide does have more than first meets the eye. Here are just a few of the cool bars in Adelaide to try out when you are in the city.
Photo credit: South Australian Tourism Commission, Bar Torino, Adelaide
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This is one of those bars that makes all the lists. But it also ticks off lots of the cool factors too.
Maybe Mae was first opened in 2014 and since then has got a reputation for being one of the best bars in Adelaide, having won “South Australian Cocktail Bar of the Year” at the Australian Bar Awards for the last six years running.
Firstly, it’s a little tricky to find. It’s a basement bar, located down a tiny unnamed laneway between Peel and Leigh Streets.
The easiest way to find this hidden cocktail bar is to look for Bread & Bone, the restaurant located above it. Then you need to head down the stairs and find the concealed door hidden in the timber-clad wall.
Once inside, the art deco setting is all dark wood and brass fittings. Slide into one of the cozy booths or grab a seat at the bar and order one of their signature cocktails.
You can choose from some of the well-known classic cocktails, or try something new with a distinct South Australian flavour. They even have some great non-alcoholic cocktails for those of us who choose not to indulge.
Maybe Mae, 15 Peel St, Adelaide, open 7 days 5 pm until late.
2KW Bar and Restaurant
2KW is another bar to have become iconic since its opening in 2015. It is one of the first rooftop bars in the city.
Its location on the corner of King William St and North Terrace means there are great views over Government and Parliament Houses, the Festival Centre, the River Torrens and Adelaide Oval, just to name a few of the landmarks.
While its outside location is perfect for a balmy summer evening, you may be a little concerned about visiting in winter.
I can assure you though, as during my last visit they had a temporary roof installed, and the area was made toasty with outdoor heaters and cozy sheepskin throws.
The drinks menu is extensive, with a huge range of beers, wines, spirits and cocktails, including some good non-alcoholic options too.
Their light meals and tasting plates are also fabulous, with a range of options to suit most dietary requirements.
You can choose a “feed me” option and have a whole range of different dishes brought to you to enjoy. I particularly enjoyed their vegan wood-fired pizza.
2KW Bar and Restaurant, 2 King William St, Adelaide, open 7 days, noon until late
Bibliotheca Bar & Book Exchange
I just had to include this one in the list because I can’t think of anything much better than sinking into a comfy over-stuffed chair with a good book and a glass of wine or a beautiful cocktail.
And at Bibliotheca, that would not be at all strange. This bar also doubles as a book exchange and with shelves lined with books, it has a distinct library feel about it.
Don’t be fooled though, it’s not just about the books, the people here also mix a pretty awesome drink too. They have a huge range of spirits from all over the world to mix up dozens of different cocktails.
Of course, there is a range of signature, literary-themed cocktails to try, like “My Precious”, “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish”, and “The Drink that Shall Not be Named”.
While there is a small food menu, it’s mostly what could be thought of as bar snacks, with a few pizzas available for those a little more hungry.
Unfortunately, there seem to be few options for those with dietary requirements or those who would like a non-alcoholic, but still adult, drink.
The Bibliotheca Bar & Book Exchange, 27 Gresham St, Adelaide, open Tues – Sat, 5 pm until late
Clever Little Tailor
Clever Little Tailor is another of the earlier laneway bars that popped up on Peel Street in 2013. It has become a trusted favourite for many of the locals and is perfect for drinks after work or after dinner on a night out.
It’s truly a small wine bar, tucked away in the backstreets, with just a few booths and barstools inside and the rest of the crowds spilling out onto the nearby pavement.
Like all good wine bars, they serve a mix of drinks, but they have a focus on a wine list with an extensive and ever-changing range of wines from Australia and around the world. Y
ou can also choose a cocktail from the menu or request one of your favourites using the many spirits they have on hand. Of course, there is a range of craft beers, and they like to keep a few whiskeys too.
The food here is more finger food, think cheese platters, olives, bread and charcuterie.
Clever Little Tailor, 19 Peel St, Adelaide, open 7 days 4 pm until late
Pink Moon Saloon
Pink Moon Saloon call themselves the house of fire and drink – I know for certain that they have “drink”, but I am hoping they don’t ever have the “fire”.
That would be the end of the cutest little timber A-frame cabin in all of Adelaide! Tucked tightly between buildings on Leigh Street, Pink Moon Saloon is a place to go for atmosphere and fun, and a decent drink or two!
There is no specialty here, with a small but well-considered range of beer, wine and spirits. Of course, they can whip up a cocktail or two for you as well. There is a limited range of tasty snacks to pair with your dink.
Pink Moon Saloon, 21 Leigh Street, Adelaide, open 7 days 4 pm until late
Merrymaker Rooftop Bar
Opening in 2021, Merrymaker is one of the new rooftop bars around the city centre, and this one has the distinction of being the highest.
It sits sixteen stories above street level at the top of the Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets in arguably the best foodie precinct in town.
Merrymaker is the perfect place to grab a drink as the sun goes down before heading to dinner at one of the nearby Gouger Street restaurants.
Or skip the restaurant altogether, and eat at the restaurant right here (limited hours) which specialises in local South Australian seafood.
The drinks menu focuses on South Australian wines, but there are a few exceptions, such as French Champagne.
There are plenty of local options amongst the beers and spirits too with some well-known international offerings sprinkled in. Not only is there a range of standard cocktails, but non-alcoholic cocktails are on the menu too.
Merrymaker, Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets, 23-29 Market Street, Adelaide, open Wed-Sun from 2 pm
The Sorcerer’s Bar
If you like a good themed bar then this is your venue! The Sorcerers Bar is – unsurprisingly – themed around all things wizard-y.
Channel your inner Harry Potter by squeezing into this tiny bar filled with cobwebs and wands and cauldrons and trying one of the beautiful and tasty cocktails.
With only fifteen seats inside, this is Adelaide’s smallest – let’s say most intimate! – bar.
Whether it’s running over with smoke, on fire, or a bright fluorescent colour, you won’t be able to help to show your drink off to all your friends on Instagram.
While the menu changes regularly, look out for concoctions with names such as sorting house, butterscotch beer shots, truth serum and love potion.
For those who prefer something a little less magical, The Sorcerer’s Bar also stocks a range of German beers too.
The Sorcerer”s Bar, 25B Bank Street, Adelaide, open Thurs/Fri 5 pm until late, Sat 6 pm until late
Hains & Co
Hains & Co is another of Adelaide’s themed bars, this time it has a nautical feel to it. It feels like you have walked into an old-style gentleman’s club.
Think worn leather club seats, whiskey in cut glasses and big fat smoky cigars. The atmosphere here is as enticing as the drinks.
The spirits of choice here are whiskey and gin, although they do have a range of other spirits, wine and beer too. Brands such as the local Pirate Life are recommended here. The nautical theme influences even the size of the beers.
There are no schooners or pints here, instead, you can order a dingy, tanker or tall ship. Cocktails have also been renamed and include Dark & Stormy and Splice the Main Brace.
Hains & Co offer spirits tastings, including a Whiskey 101 Masterclass held once a month and other one-off events.
Hains & Co, 23 Gilbert Place, Adelaide, open 7 days, 4 pm until 2 am.
NOLA Beer & Whiskey
As the name suggests, NOLA is inspired by the food, drinks and vibe of New Orleans. While this is a great bar, it is also a good eatery too, offering up plenty of cajun-inspired meals to match the drinks.
Have a meal of cornbread, po’boys, gumbo and beignets, all cooked just like they are in Louisiana.
While there is an ever-changing range of interesting beers and whiskeys, you can also find some nice wines (mostly South Australian) and cocktails too.
They also have non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic drinks as standard on their menu too.
NOLA Adelaide, 28 Vardon Avenue, Adelaide, open Tues to Thurs 4 pm until midnight, Fri/Sat 12 pm until 2 am, Sun noon to midnight
The Howling Owl
Located just off Rundle Street, The Howling Owl is possibly the best gin bar in Adelaide at night, and they also double as a cafe during the day.
They have been around now since 2012 and have become popular for a drink before or after dinner in the East End precinct.
The menu includes a range of more than 220 gins from all over the world. They offer tasting paddles so that you can try a range of gins rather than having to choose just one.
For those that aren’t gin lovers, there is also whisky, craft beer and local wines.
There’s a great cocktail menu with seasonal options that tend to include local products and variations – such as the Saltbush City Limits, a margarita with a twist that uses saltbush syrup.
There are non-alcoholic options too for both the spirits and beers. Nibbles are available, and in the evening, pizza is served.
The Howling Owl, 10 Vaughan Place, Adelaide, open Mon-Sat noon until late.
trap. cocktail bar
There are not many bars in Adelaide that describe their menu as ‘as intimate as its floor space’ but trap. Cocktail Bar on Cold Chisel Ln in Adelaide’s west end is exactly that.
Nestled in a basement space that used to be the site office for the Sofitel construction building, the entrance to trap. directly faces the vibrant, rejuvenated and renamed laneway devoted to one of Australia’s most exported bands.
When you step down into trap. you’re immediately welcomed by friendly bar staff in a space that’s reminiscent of a friend’s home you’re visiting for a few drinks before (or after!) going out.
A standout feature of the current menu is the opportunity to add ‘mods’ to one of their cocktails called the Lemongrass Mezcal.
You can get one el naturale, one with coconut, one with ginger or one made with a house-made lacto fermented chilli hot sauce.
trap. Cocktail Bar, Basement, 96 Currie St (enter off Cold Chisel Lane), Adelaide, open Tues-Sun 4 pm until late
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