An iconic Adelaide wine and cocktail bar, Clever Little Taylor has upped the wine ante of late, growing the list alongside its impressive collection of spirits, with top-flight snacks completing the picture.
Clever Little Tailor is somewhat of a veteran now, having opened in 2013 when bars like this in Adelaide – that are now thankfully somewhat more prevalent – were just a dream. With a relaxation of the licensing laws approved – much like the ones that spearheaded the Melbourne and Sydney small-bar booms – Dana Whyte (along with former partners Crispian Fielke and Josh Baker) crafted Clever Little Tailor to be his notion of an ideal local bar, with an offer that traverses cocktails, beer and wine with equal confidence. “We wanted to cater to the local crowd, people living and working in the area and give them a place to feel at home while drinking high quality booze,” says Whyte.
With Whyte taking over the ownership of Clever Little Taylor from his former partners, he has brought Marshall King, the original bar manager, on as a partner. “We’re long-time friends, colleagues and wine lovers,” says Whyte, “and we’re looking to reload and refresh the business with new energy.” That change has also seen “long-time returning staff member” Henry Holland come on as a partner and co-wine buyer. “The wine focus has been sharpened,” says Whyte. “We are really looking to carve out a niche as the premium wine venue in the West End of Adelaide.”
Housed in an historic building on Peel St, there is a rare level of detail and craftsmanship on display, with a stripped back interior showcasing the stacked stone construction. The interior takes a warm approach with plenty of bespoke timber fixtures courtesy of Whyte’s father’s skills – he’s a retired boatbuilder – leather-clad booths, handmade fittings and sympathetic lighting.
The list extends to over 100 bins and is ever changing, with ten standard slots for the by-the-glass offer, though they’re always flanked by specials based on the whims of the day, with premium pours dispensed via Coravin. Philosophically, you won’t find any great dogma at play here, but you certainly won’t find any corporate brands either. “Mostly Australian with a focus on sustainable farming practices and minimal intervention/lo-fi/natural winemaking,” says Whyte. “There’s always a smattering of international listings as well. But above all, we look for deliciousness. We’ve always been seen as a ‘niche’ or ‘tight’ style of list, but we are certainly broadening our horizons, seeking out more classics, benchmarks, listing more broadly and seriously from Australia and around the globe.”
Outside of wine, Clever Little Tailor certainly takes its whisk(e)y and gin selection very seriously, with an enviable listing of the interesting and hard-to-source, both local and international, amongst the more recognisable players, while they also have a formidable reputation for cocktails well made. The food offer sticks to snacks and grazing options, with topflight charcuterie, cheeses and conservas on offer.
“We encourage a relaxed style of drinking,” says Whyte, “where you sit back and work your way through the list over a plate of market cheese and charcuterie, get involved in some wine conversations with the staff and maybe order a bottle and forget about your dinner booking.”