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New bar seeks to kickstart Adelaide rum rebellion

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A new East End venue named after famous British naval captain William Bligh is looking to inject some rum love into Adelaide’s small-bar scene.

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Located at 33 Vardon Avenue, just along from East End Cellars and The Tasting Room, The William Bligh will have a maritime-themed décor and room for up to 60 patrons.

Owner Jarrod Hales, who is establishing the bar with a business partner, says it is scheduled for opening on the Easter long weekend.

The William Bligh will specialise in rum – partly to add to the mix of the street, which is also home to Nola craft beer and whiskey bar, and partly because Hales believes rum is the next big thing in a spirits boom that has already seen an explosion of new gins enter the market.

“There’s so many good gins and rums now … it’s crazy,” he says.

“Plus, rum’s like an-all year drink – it doesn’t have a season.”

Hales – who has managed a number of Adelaide bars, most recently The Producers in Grenfell Street – says The William Bligh will initially have about 30 rums on offer.

They will come from all over the world, including Australia, the South Pacific, France, Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. The owners also intend to introduce a local range, but are keeping it under wraps for now.

“The plan is to educate and inform people of just how much good rum is out there,” Hales says.

“I fell in love with it a few years back, so I want to share the love.

“There are so many nice different characteristic of rum, and people are experimenting with it now … they’re not just mixing it with Coke or lemonade or dry ginger.”

The bar will offer a small menu of classic cocktails, most of which include rum, plus rotating off-menu specials – such as a spiced rum with sweet potato syrup and hickory bacon bitters – that patrons can find out about on social media.

For the design of the bar, which includes a mezzanine level, Hales and his staff have sought inspiration from the maritime world. It will have a timber-panelled ceiling, aqua/turquoise-coloured walls, polished concrete floors, a front bar made from old Moonta Bay railway sleepers edged with copper at the top, and a large red-gum table as a centrepiece downstairs.

“I wanted the ceiling to look like the bottom of a boat – like you’re in the bowels of a ship,” Hales says.

“And everything underneath that will have a warm, happy, vibrant sort of feel to it, where people can hang out and chat to us.”

On the wall of the mezzanine level will be a large canvas print mapping part of the open boat journey Bligh undertook on the HMS Bounty in 1789.

Hales and his business partner decided The William Bligh was an apt name for their bar, given that rum has a long association with maritime culture, and also the fact that Bligh was tasked with trying to clean up the corrupt rum trade when he was appointed Governor of New South Wales in 1805. His crackdown resulted in the Rum Rebellion, during which he was arrested.

“He wanted to stop the rum trade and we wanted to bring it back,” Hales says.

The William Bligh plans to open from 8am Tuesday to Sunday, serving coffee and breakfast in the morning, with gourmet toasted sandwiches and platters available later in the day. It will open until 8pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, 10pm Thursday and Sunday, and midnight Friday and Saturday.

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