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Published February 11th 2017
A bar that makes you feel at home
The past two years has seen Peel Street transform from "just another little street" off Hindley Street to one of the most popular lanes, attracting partygoers and town visitors alike with their cute little bars that have found residence here.
One such bar that is the newest addition to the Peel Street bar family is Alfred's Bar. You can't miss it - it's the bar with inviting wooden stools outside, two beautiful wooden-polish archways, and a big, bright, white top wall that has striking black wordings with the name fixed across it. There's something about Alfred's that seems so comforting and homely - unlike most other bars around the city, there's a sense of belonging upon walking into the beautifully designed space.
Formerly home to the Barbushka, Alfred's has completely turned the place around, by having the natural light seep through the entrance and the wide window space. Unlike its predecessor, Alfred's has more open two spaces that are not only distinctive of each other, but also provide a sense of connection between the upstairs and downstairs areas. I wouldn't be surprised if the theme song from classic TV Show "Cheers" started playing in your head, because that's exactly what Alfred's is - a bar where anyone and everyone is welcome, and where "everybody knows your name", regular or not!
Having visited the bar only a couple of times, I was impressed by their drinks, their location, their hospitality, and the overall decor of this cute space. Last week, I visited the bar to check out their new cocktail list, which has colourful and intoxicating concoctions of Gin, Tequila, and Vodka.
Through my visit and via email, I was able to conduct an interview with owner Scott Quick and manager Matt Holding. Have a read of the notes below and find out the story behind "Adelaide city's neighbourhood bar".
What made you decide on opening up Alfred's? Scott: The small bar scene had interested for me for quite a while. With a strong background in larger hotels, I had always toyed with the idea of trying to bring a pub to a small bar. After many months of trying to find a suitable location, I negotiated a deal to secure to site we are in now.
Is there a story behind the name? Scott: Alfred's is named after my grandfather. He was very much a people's person and opened the doors to his home to many family and friends over time. He had a bar in his backyard and used to brew his own beer so his home became the 'local watering hole' for family and friends. I wanted to draw on all those elements from him and translate them into the offerings served at Alfred's. A 'local' where everyone felt welcome!
Our local neighbourhood bar resides on Peel Street
I remember visiting this space when it was the Barbushka...? Scott: Yes, I took over the original Barbushka site as a fully operating business. The day I took settlement, we shut it down and began the process of demolition and remodelling.
What do you think makes Alfreds Bar stand out from the rest of the laneway bars in Adelaide?
Scott: I don't really think it's about standing out from the rest of the bars, but more about bringing something different, which complements the bars which already existed. I look at the Peel Street precinct as a whole and it's like a little community. Alfred's brings a little pub feel to the area, which is something that hadn't been explored previously, so I feel it adds to the 'community' vibe.
Who created / designed the space? Scott: Matiya Marovich from Sans Arc Studio did the design and architectural work for me. He came highly recommended from a friend who had previously used him so based on that recommendation and the quality of work he had already produced, it was a no brainer.
Do you stock locally-sourced products or is it a bit of a mix? Can you name some locally sourced businesses that Alfreds supports? Scott: There are certain essentials which aren't locally sourced but as a whole, we support the local guys as much as we can. We have so much choice here in South Australia and the people behind the brands go out of their way to support us as well. Getting a phone call from the guys at Vanguardist Wines [for example] saying, "I'm heading down to town - do you want some stock?", and having them lob on the door a few hours later, or similarly running low on Red Hen Gin and ringing the guys late on a Friday arvo so they can hand deliver our stock themselves, is not unusual when dealing with a lot of the local producers.
Matt: They're all unique and exquisite in their own ways! I wanted to create drinks that were comfortable for customers to experience. Nothing with ingredients people weren't familiar with. Nothing with overpowering flavours. I want to bring out something nice and fresh using premium spirits.
Is there a story behind the dart board upstairs? It seems to be the only game, but a cleverly placed one for those who are looking for a place with more than "just drinks and beers".
Scott: Is there anything more 'pub' than a dart board! It ties in with the concept behind Alfred's but it also, as you have said, gives the punters something to do during those quieter times. We always had the vision of making the mezzanine a 'breakaway' space from the main bar area, so by installing the banquet seating and the dart board upstairs we have created a little nook for people to get away from it all.
Do you serve food as well? If not, do you plan to incorporate bar-style nibbles or a bit more wholesome meals in the future?
Scott: Food has been limited to nibbles at this point. In keeping with the theme, we provide nuts, pretzels, etc. While we aim to go for the 'pub' inspired nibbles, it is forever evolving, so at this stage, we can say that it's a work in progress.
Tell me a bit about your new drinks menu - how did you come up with the recipes for the drinks and what made you primarily focus on Gin?
Matt: The way I create drinks is to simply follow the base of a classic cocktail, and amend // adapt it to a certain flavour profile I'm trying to target. I primarily use Gin, because it's a flavour everyone is becoming more comfortable with, and is very popular at the moment. I also find mixing vodka to be such a neutral taste and very boring, so it's also self-stimulating to create a balanced cocktail with a dominant bitter spirit base that people still enjoy.
What kind of vibe are you aiming to provide to your customers?
Scott: It was always important to me to create an environment where people felt comfortable. I wanted to provide a space that would replicate the elements of our very own 'local watering hole'. I wanted my customers to feel like they were at home, where they could sit back with a drink in hand, and feel at ease.
Do you classify as a particular kind of bar -Gin bar, Whiskey bar, or are you a Jack...an Alfred of all trades?
Scott: We've never really wanted to 'pigeon hole' ourselves in saying we focus on one particular range or specialty. It has always been about providing a broad range of recognisable products and doing what we do well.