Pink Moon Saloon's light-filled bar
Photograph: South Australian Tourism Commission | Pink Moon Saloon

The 12 best bars and breweries in Adelaide

Whether you want a quiet dram or a raucous pint, these are the watering holes you need to visit

Melissa WoodleyCharles Rawlings-Way
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Forget the ‘City of Churches’ tag – Adelaide has just as many pubs, not to mention bars of all persuasions, which have ridden a boom in recent years following a tweak to licencing laws that now allow small bars to serve booze without food. 

From city-fringe craft beer nooks to gin and whisky dens taking design cues from across the planet, there’s a bar here to suit every mood and tipple of choice. Adelaide is also a UNESCO ‘City of Music’, so expect to hear some live jazz, an acoustic troubadour or at least a DJ spinning rock classics while you quench your thirst. Oh, and don’t forget the wine. Given that South Australia is the nation’s wine-producing heartland, you can expect nothing but top bottles here.

The best bars in Adelaide – the ‘City of Booze Bunkers’ – are waiting for you.

Want to stay sober? These are the best things to do in Adelaide.

Bottoms up you thirsty Adelaidians

We’re not sure who Mae is or why she’s feeling so uncertain, but her underground speakeasy sure is cool. Cocktails, fine wine and retro-rock vibes make for a seductive combo, underpinned by a local and sustainable ethos. Duck in for a quick G'n'T after work and stay till 2am. The hardest part is finding the unsigned door (hint: it doesn’t look anything like a door). Head upstairs to Bread and Bone Wood Grill afterward if you’ve worked up an appetite (burgers and dogs FTW).

  • Breweries
  • Port Adelaide

Founded in 2014 by brewer mates Jack Cameron and Jared ‘Red’ Proudfoot, Pirate Life has been one of the pioneering breweries of an Adelaide craft beer scene that has well and truly exploded. In 2019, they moved into their huge brewery and taproom in Port Adelaide from their previous space in the inner west of Adelaide and haven’t looked back. The taproom features an ever-changing list of mainstay and exclusive beers, a games room and an outdoor fire pit, where you can get tasty morsels straight off the grill. 

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We all wish Bar Lune was our local haunt. This hip and happening neighbourhood wine bar is housed in a quaint row of old stores along the Parade in Beulah Park, however, the menu is anything but cute. A stylish wine wall showcases top-tier drops, which are handpicked from around Australia, Italy and France, and poured at the bar alongside punchy cocktails. Plates are made to pass around the colourful, terrazzo tables, featuring the most pillowy focaccia, fresh kingfish crudo and smoked anchovies. 

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Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia

The name 2KW is shorthand for No 2 King William St. But don’t go looking for it at street level – it’s eight floors above your head. And whoa – check out the view! If the show-stopping panorama beyond North Terrace to the Adelaide Oval isn’t enough to win you over, 2KW’s ace menu, especially its wine offering, and intimate series of spaces certainly will. Getting up to the city's best rooftop bar is part of the fun, involving a double elevator ride to the top storey.

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Real-estate agents tout ‘location, location, location’ as the winning triad, but at Bank Street Social the formula is ‘local, local, local’ (as applicable to beer, wine and spirits). Head downstairs and lean into the no-frills vibes: exposed brickwork and chunky timber beams set the scene for fab drinking den worthy of any occasion. It’s a laid-back space offering sweet relief from Hindley Street’s red-necked heartland, and live vinyl spinners and fab pizzas seal the deal.

Sail your yacht down Gilbert Place in Adelaide’s West End and moor yourself at Haines and Co for the evening. The nautical theme is a little out of whack in downtown Adelaide but charming in its own slightly incongruous way: think wall-mounted anchors and boats in bottles. And since the bar is apparently cobbled together from chunks of the old Largs Bay jetty, this shipshape aesthetic certainly passes muster. It’s a handsome port in a storm and a beaut of a bar, perfect for a gin on a hot afternoon or a rum on a cold night. 

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Adelaide and its hilly backdrop are home to around two dozen gin distilleries – welcome to the gin capital of Australia. One of the city’s flagship downtown distillers, Prohibition, gives the gin thing a 1920s spin. Its tasting room features a wall of interesting botanicals to ensnare the senses and inspire conversation. The ‘Next Door Bar’ is a more intimate cocktail room, but you can admire the chunky square gin bottles decking the bar in either space.

Adelaide’s East End is a high-rent scene: for a bar to make it here, it’s gotta be good. NOLA (shorthand for New Orleans, Louisiana – the mood here is very Deep South) has proven it’s got what it takes. A killer range of whiskies, boundless craft beer, Cajun eats (chow down on cornbread, grits, po’boys and fried chicken) and regular jazz maintains the bayou buzz.

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It's a little bit French and a big bit classy. La Buvette has raised the late-night drinking scene in Adelaide’s West End to new heights. Not to yuck anyone's yums, but most of the booze rooms around here are either mainstream haunts with muscled-up/mini-skirted clientele or old-school strip clubs of endlessly ill repute. La Buvette delivers something far more refined: fine French wines and aperitifs in understated laneway surrounds. 

Spinning off from Clever Little Taylor, one of Adelaide’s pioneering small bars is equally petite – a micro-wide cabin wedged into an alleyway off buzzy Leigh Street. The room at the front is where the drinking happens, leading into a courtyard with a food shack out the back – wood-fired, slow-cooked meats are the specialty of the house. It’s an innovative and compact example of how small can be mighty; just don’t walk past too fast or you’ll miss it.

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This Goodwood Road taproom is barely in the titular suburbs: at around 1km from Adelaide’s CBD, ‘city fringe’ might be a better description. Beyond a big grey roller door, the space opens out into a roomy, industrial beer hall with crafty pale ale, English bitter and heavyweight black IPA ready to be pulled into some pints. For those in search of old school pub energy, especially if you take your beer seriously, this is the boozer for you.

Check out that façade! Built in 1901, Electra House is fronted by some serious stonework – all Corinthian columns, shapely balusters and muscle-clad gargoyles. Inside, the Chamber Bar is also a knockout, with six-metre-high ceilings, black-cane barstools, tan leather booths, mosaic tiles and tall windows the size of pool tables. It's a favourite haunt of barristers and bankers drinking Tanqueray and cocktails, and on a balmy night, you can dress to impress and hit up the jaunty brick-and-glass Garden Bar.

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