Secrets to Adelaide’s small bar success

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By Kaia Wallis

Adelaide’s small bar scene has experienced a surge of vibrancy in past years, with dozens of small quirky venues and hidden bars attracting scores of patrons.

Life was brought into the city’s small bar scene in 2013 when the State Government amended the Liquor Licensing Act to provide more flexibility and remove roadblocks for small bar operators.

Now in 2018, it’s almost hard to miss the quirky venues offering patrons one of a kind cocktails and premium local wine.

So, what is it that keeps Adelaide’s small bar scene flourishing?

Brand SA News sat down with three small bar owners to find out what makes Adelaide a great place to enjoy a tipple and, how the city offers potential for would-be bar operators!

Mississippi Moon

Mississippi Moon, Gresham Street

Crafted on the back of its name, Mississippi Moon is full of southern embellishments – with fairy lights draping the ceilings to resemble the fire-flies of Mississippi.

The small bar opened in December 2015 on Gresham Street, neatly nestled near The Bibliotheca Bar and La Buvette Drinkery – both of which owner Michael West speaks of fondly.

“The community between us is really good, we help each other out, we send people to each other,” he says.

Hundreds of patrons fill this self-described dive bar each weekend­ – coming for the great service Michael prides himself on as well as an impressive vinyl record collection.

Like most Adelaide bars, Mississippi Moon is well stocked with SA products.

“I’ve generally always got the Pikes Beer Company on,” Michael says.

“All of our wines are only SA wines.”

The Full Moon is Mississippi’s signature cocktail – a concoction of apple pie moonshine, Cointreau, lime juice and egg white brewed by one of the bars expert staff members.

If you’re after something a little different- Michael suggests an espresso martini, full of cold brew coffee, Twenty Third Street whisky and apple pie moonshine.

The Barlow Room

The Barlow Room, Lindes Lane

Barlow Room and Lindes Lane owner and designer Jason Jurecky speaks highly of a point of difference – something special to draw patrons in.

Hidden below Lindes Lane (hint: fire escape) the Barlow Room is certainly different. With one-off and personal pieces ordaining the room, the bar is designed to transport you back in time to Europe.

Jason says the secret to small bars in Adelaide is the community.

“We all help each other; the South Australian bar scene really works well together – we all know each other,” he says.

“You can go to so many bars in Adelaide and get so many different experiences.”

While downstairs sells itself as a wine bar, in Lindes Lane you’ll find local beers from Little Bang Brewery on tap and between the two, there’s two shelves full of SA gin.

Although the secret bar has a monthly cocktail, Jason says the beauty of Adelaide’s bar scene is in the spirits.

“SA is so spoiled, with our amazing produce, beer scene and the spirit scene,” Jason says.

Mr Goodbar

Mr Goodbar, Union Street

Positioned on the East End, Mr Goodbar first opened Union Street doors in 2015.

“It’s been a journey,” says owner Goran Dedic.

“But we let the good times roll.”

Echoing the thoughts of Mississippi Moon and Lindes Lane, Goran praises the community spirit of Adelaide’s bar scene, and notes the pivotal support of other East End businesses.

“Everybody works together to bring vibrancy to Adelaide,” he says.

Goran, who moved from Sydney to Adelaide around 20 years ago, says the city has been revitalised by small bars, but that the bar scene is just one of the things Adelaide offers.

Goran says passionate staff are the keys to building a successful small bar, and with repeat customers every weekend – it must be true.

Staff are encouraged to recommend and experiment with drinks, and the bar is stocked with both local and international products for customers to enjoy.

Of course, the customers are also pouring in on Friday nights for the expertly crafted ’80s nights, which Goran describes as a real winter hit.

Right now, a Japanese whisky is popular. But make sure to keep your eyes peeled and taste buds ready for the new cocktail menu which drops next week.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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