You may have heard murmurers of a new bar burrowed deep in Adelaide’s West End. As I wander down Solomon Street the whispers coalesce out of the gloom, and I find myself drawn moth-like out of the night and into the pink haze which spills through the large steel doors of Cry Baby.
As I take in the quiet conversations held in bottle green booths, the pool players swaggering around the table with no sense of rush, soft exclamations as classic favourites are discovered in the jukebox’s rock n roll offerings and the quiet salutes to the soothing powers of a post work pint, I can feel my shoulders relax into this refuge from the world. In a city with an ever-sharpening eye for fashion, I also appreciate the fact that as long as I’m wearing pants and some form of foot wear I’m more that up to dress code. This is a place to burrow into for comfortable nights with friends, a refuge from the pressures of a world focused on the drive of the onwards and upwards.
Jon De Pinto, a human whirlwind with years of experience both behind and in front of the bar, greats us with a bearded grin. From years of ideas, he says it is surreal to look out across room and see his collection of concepts become reality in his version of the classic American dive bar.
Leaning against the tiled bar I’m impressed by the variety on offer here. With over 300 spirits, 12 beers on tap and an ever-changing wine list selected from South Australia’s best by John’s discerning palette, there is definitely no lack of choice. John is determined for this large collection to be approachable. As Adelaide’s small bar scene grows there are plenty of bars with fancy cocktail lists full of house made shrubs and delicate foams. John explains he wants to step away from any sense of pretention, to create a space where people can feel free to ignore the cocktail list and order a vodka raspberry if that’s what they’re feeling. But while customers are free to choose their path, Cry Baby also appreciates that sometimes a little direction can be helpful. A small and simple cocktail list outlines some combinations just as classic as the music pumping out of the jukebox, though with a few twists to give John’s bartending experience a creative outlet.
Tombstone – Shaken simplicity, as clean and sharp as the faceted glass it is served in. Rye whisky front and centre, framed by simple sugar syrup, and a little bitters. Garnished with a thin strip of lemon peel.
Salty Dog – The salt rimmed origin of the Cosmopolitan. My salt crusted lips bring back oceanic memories, and as they part I welcome the wash of fresh sweetness formed by the vodka and grapefruit juice. Summer at Henley no longer feels like a distant dream.
Applejack Rabbit – Apple jack brandy is hiding in a dusty corner of most bar shelves. Keen to let it have its chance back in the limelight, John has revived the 1930’s classic. Applejack brandy is held in beautiful balance between sweet maple and the tart fresh juices of oranges and lemons. It tastes like a brunch you can summon the energy to roll out of bed for – pancake dreams and natural zest.
Alabama Slammer – Beads of condensation line the tall Collins glass, which contains a sweet, fruity blend of southern comfort, amaretto liqueur, sloe gin and fresh orange juice.
John did originally open with a range of platters on the menu, but has since decided to stick to casual simplicity. Cry Baby currently offers a range of small local nibbles such as nuts from Charlesworth and jerky by The Mettwurst Man for purchase over the bar, or you can always help yourself to the complimentary popcorn waiting ready in buttery warmth.
If you’re after something more substantial, John is happy for you to enjoy takeaway in your booth from Cry Baby’s neighbour Sunny’s. He also revealed his upcoming plans for Cry Baby Dogs, New York style hotdogs which will be served from street style from a cart until 2am every night.
The bar is open from early afternoon until 2am, seven days a week. Step down the side street, and slip into the release of honest and effortless good times. And don’t forget some change for tunes.
Words by Danielle Clarke
WHERE: 11 Solomon St, Adelaide