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August 13, 2015

First look: Oscar Bar and Oscar Nine recording studio

Crippen Place is expanding. The (literally) vertically-integrated company behind Electric Circus, Mr Kims, Rocket and Rooftop has got a new venue - and it's incredible.

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  • Words: Joshua Fanning
  • Pictures: Andrè Castellucci

Taking over the defunct Downtown: HDCB on Hindley Street (which couldn’t make a go of charging $14 for a hotdog), serial bartrepreneur Paul Glen and his team have opened the doors on what could be the most pure expression of the Crippen Place culture to-date.


99 Hindley Street – 5000
Open Fri – Sun 9pm – 2am
Cover charges apply Fri and Sat

Oscar is a small bar; beneath it (and visible from the bar through double glazed windows) sits a 1 tonne mixing desk that defines Oscar Nine Studio – a real world recording studio.

The bar is open Friday through Sunday with each night setting a different tone on the dance floor (located directly above the studio). And CityMag is particularly interested in the Sunday “anything goes” vibe where Tribe Called Quest might be mixed in with The Cure.

Regardless of the weekend, the music studio will operate daily under the stewardship of James Curd, in what strikes us as a wholly new take on the popular idea of a co-working space.


Denvar fashions us an original from the list with a few of our favourite things:
Nothing Soft Comes Out The Bronx
feat: Woodford Reserve, Pedro Ximenez, Averna & Pimento Bitters. Built on ice, stirred, strained and freshened with orange zest!

Finding Oscar isn’t easy. Diagonally opposite Rocket – look for two red strip lights and the outline of a door cut into a green wall.

Thankfully we’re met outside the venue by Dan Vaughan (known as Atkins) – the manager of the Crippen Place building. Following Dan in, we’re filled with wonder as we go into a small 1.5m x 1.5m airlock space that separates Hindley Street from Oscar’s interior. Here, guests will be greeted by a second host and discharge their coats if so inclined.

“I’ve spent quite a bit of time in New York,” says Dan, ushering us through the second door.

“With this place we’re really trying to up the level of service and the cloakroom provides a good way to welcome people and set the tone of the place.”

And the tone is, well, sophisticated. Beyond a refined and seasonal cocktail list, Oscar offers Adelaide something completely new with their world-class studio downstairs and an atmospheric experience akin to a Nicolas Winding Refn film.

In the same vein as CUCKOO (vale) before it, OSCAR will produce and record original music.

Head bartender Denvar Summers agrees that the now-closed Cuckoo by Sarah Dhillon and brother Phil Rogers was a big influence.

“That’s what we’re aiming for,” says Denvar. “To create a sort of cultural Mecca around music. Being part of the busiest street in Adelaide – we wanted to add something to the nightlife and its culture.”

There’s no doubt they have laid a solid foundation for the culture to grow from.

The interior, conceived by owners Paul Glen and James Hillier is the distillation of their various associated projects. Minimalist like Nordburger, quirky in parts like Golden Boy and moody like Electric Circus – Oscar feels like a culmination of sorts and a deep sense of quiet confidence not only pervades the space but lends itself to visitors too.

And once the (second) door closes and the outside world is completely closed out, we get the distinct and exciting feeling that just by having a drink here – we’re part of something bigger than the sum of liquid in the glass before us.

Like Art Blakey at Birdland – maybe it’ll be our hands on one of their records… acknowledgement that we dug down at Oscar Nine Studio.

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