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10 cocktails you must try in Adelaide

By Marc Llewellyn

Adelaide is fast becoming known as the cocktail capital of Australia, thanks to its rooftop and laneway bars that are shaking up the mixed drinks scene. Here are ten of the best cocktails from ten of the best bars.

  1. Pink Moon Saloon: Penicillin

    A super cute venue in Adelaide’s buzzy West End, Pink Moon Saloon is a tiny Leigh Street laneway venue. It picked up the top award for the best designed bar in Australia and the South Pacific at the 2016 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, held in London.

    “The Penicillin is a modern classic – invented by Australian Sam Ross in New York – that combines blended scotch, lemon, honey and ginger with a little float of Islay (smoky) whiskey. This is our tequila twist on it,” says co-owner, Marshall King.

    “Tequila and strawberry are really good friends, so this drink uses Don Julio Blanco as the base, a strawberry shrub [fruity syrup] made in-house, ginger, lemon and honey for the classic Penicillin vibe, and Vida Mezcal as the smoky float component. Garnish with some house-pickled ginger.”

  2. La Moka: Espresso Martini

    This petite, moodily-lit, Italian-inspired café and cocktail bar in the Peel Street laneway, serves great coffee, and delicious Espresso Martinis among other tipples.

    “Our Espresso Martini is definitely the most popular of our cocktails,” says owner, Manuel Francesconi. “The secret is in our coffee. It’s freshly made for every single cocktail by using our Italian lever coffee machine, which pours perfect espresso shots.

    “We start by pouring vodka and Kahlua in a shaker, followed by our homemade sugar syrup and a freshly made espresso. Then we add lots of ice, shake it, double strain it into a coupe glass, and garnish with coffee beans.”

    Photo: Josie Withers

  3. Hennessy Rooftop Bar: Honey Trap

    If you like a discerning place with leather armchairs and chandeliers then head up to the 13th floor of the Mayfair Hotel, on King William Street. An outside deck offers views that stretch across the city centre.

    “The Mayfair Hotel is home to our rooftop bees that produce beautiful raw honey which we use throughout the hotel, including in one of Hennessy’s signature cocktails, the Honey Trap,” says bartender, Simone Tetronici.

    “The Honey Trap is a buzzing honey-gingered caprioska, with honey infused vodka, lime, ginger, mint, and a drizzling of our honey. It’s a ‘must try’ as you take in the beautiful Adelaide skyline at dusk.”

  4. 2nd & 6th: Morning Glory Fizz

    The name of this busy Peel Street laneway restaurant and bar refers to the second and sixth of the seven deadly sins, greed and gluttony. Here, cocktails from the past come with a modern twist.

    “Our Morning Glory Fizz is a great step-up from the ever-popular whisky sour. It’s a throwback to the late 1800s,” says owner, Hugh Nyugen.

    “We start with a rinse of La Fée Absinthe Parisienne to add complexity and a light herbaceous finish. Next comes Monkey Shoulder whisky, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and an egg white.

    “We top it off and pump up the texture with a dash of soda. Garnish with an expressed lemon twist. A beautiful marigold bloom is part of the aromatic garnish too.”

    Photo: 2nd & 6th

  5. 2KW Bar and Restaurant: Montenegro Sour

    Perched eight floors up on the corner of King William Street and North Terrace, the restaurant flows out into a stylish rooftop bar that peers out across the Adelaide Oval and the sweeping city.

    "Our Montenegro Sour is all about a journey of tastes and textures”, says Assistant Restaurant Manager, Jake Williams. “Bittersweet Amaro Montenegro is mixed with Crème de Cacao chocolate liqueur and bitters for complexity, fresh lemon and lime for vibrancy, and egg white to draw out the mouth feel. We then simply garnish it with some shaved Haigh’s chocolate and some house dehydrated orange.

    “It’s designed to be sipped after dinner with good company. It shows both local and international influence, which is really what our melting-pot culture is all about."

    Photo: Ian Routledge

  6. Hains & Co: Crimson Mainsail

    Cocktails come first at this laid back nautically-inspired laneway bar in Gilbert Place. Expect the perfect Martini, dozens of gins, and a theatrical approach to shaking and stirring.

    “Our Crimson Mainsail is a boozy Sloe Gin sour, sure to make any sailor’s wench blush,” says Venue Manager, Cody Banks.

    The cocktail is made from Elephant Sloe Gin, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg whites. Double shake, double strain and add Angostura bitters and garnish with a viola flower.

    Photo: Julian Cebo, Hains & Co

  7. The Propaganda Club: Lemon Trotsky

    It bills itself as Adelaide’s only late night supper club and this basement-style red-booth joint in Regent Arcade lives up to its reputation for fine dining and classy cocktails.

    “Our Lemon Trotsky is a decadent cocktail which stands in place of dessert,” says bar manager, Will Bickley. “It’s a brandy-backed cocktail, because we have a large selection of brandies and cognacs here. We add lemoncello from the Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills, and butter syrup that we make ourselves. We then tweak it with some bitters and add a bit of shortbread to garnish.”

    Photo: Zoe Coates, The Propaganda Club

  8. The Collins Bar: The American Dream

    Part of the Hilton Hotel on Victoria Street, The Collins Bar is a swanky place with a relaxed lounge, outdoor terrace, and an extensive cocktail list featuring plenty of classics and modern mixologist masterpieces.

    “The American Dream is our very own sought-after craft cocktail. It started with our love of doughnuts,” says bar manager, Ammon Rogers. “We reduce the doughnuts and sugar syrup down completely, blend it with a homemade caramel syrup, a premium spiced rum, Kahlua, vanilla and espresso. We then hard-shake the mixture until the ice has broken down and strain over ice in a stemless glass. Then we top it with house caramel foam and chocolate sprinkles.”

  9. La Buvette Drinkery: J.Chavasse

    French by name and French by style, La Buvette, in Gresham Street, is magnifique! Come here for a cool, minimalist small-bar-scene with French aperitifs, cheese boards, snails and sophisticated cocktails.

    “Our J. Chavasse is a sophisticated twist on the classic Trinidad Sour which showcases Dolin Suedois Bitter Liqueur, which is a French bitter used during the 18th century as an elixir,” says La Buvette’s co-owner, Dominique Lenz.

    “Fresh and herbaceous, the ingredients also include Bulleit Rye whiskey, lemon juice, orgeat (almond syrup) and a dash of Angostura bitters. Shake it, double strain it and serve it in a coupette glass, with no garnish. Et voila!”

    Photo: Josie Withers

  10. Maybe Mae: Bill Murray

    This hidden little Peel Street laneway cocktail lounge has that speakeasy feel with old-fashioned blues and jazz, dim lighting and comfortable booths.

    “One of our all time favourites would have to be the Bill Murray,” says managing partner, Ollie Margan. “This whisky sour uses Japanese whisky as the base. It is married with a dash of Apricot Brandy, as well as lemon, sugar syrup, mint and egg white. It’s fresh, fruit forward and tart. Shake with or without ice, or strain over a large ice cube. Garnish with a mint sprig.”

    Photo: Andre Castellucci


    South Australia


    Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are located at Adelaide Airport.

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