There are very few places in town that make you feel as though you are somewhere more interesting than St Andrews. The Adamson Bar, known for its extensive cocktail menu and trendy decor, is one such place. Although a relatively new establishment (it opened in 2015), the bar has rapidly become the go-to place for launch parties and intimate nights out. Label, the DONT WALK Charity Fashion Show, and Children of Rwanda are all among the student societies that have chosen The Adamson as their base. The Saint’s own 200th anniversary was celebrated here, complete with custom blue cocktails made for the occasion.
Set to launch Tuesday 11 October, 500 is a combination of the things that make The Adamson unique – the trendiness, the class, the intimate aura – while simultaneously embracing a new brand of nightlife. The weekly event will be characterised by a list of £5 cocktails and outstanding music. Already, Ma Bells Tuesdays provide ample reason for a night out; 500 seeks to enhance this experience by revolutionising the pre-drinking process.
Mr Todd outlines the cost effectiveness of the £5 cocktails versus self-mixed drinks: “You could either have a pre at home with a £14 bottle of Smirnoff, some drinking games, and no atmosphere; or you could come here and buy three East Sides for £15 while enjoying yourself in a fantastic location.”
He describes 500 as “[bridging] the gap between social day time and anti-social night time.” During the day, we are able to speak to each other at non-screaming volumes, the sunlight and lack of blaring house lending itself to conversation. Daytime has the drawback of being a socially unacceptable time for cocktails, meaning that drinking is usually done on grimy, anonymous dance floors where human interaction is reduced to grinding and screeching into strangers’ ears.
The Adamson will not have a dance floor, but it will have a DJ. Playing from a balcony above the entrance, Mr Todd will preside over the inaugural event this coming Tuesday. Following this invite-only launch, 500 will be open to the general public every week. It promises a variety of musical acts throughout its tenure, with the goal of booking one big name DJ per month. A rotation of student DJs can also be expected behind the decks.
It is the music that will ultimately define 500. St Andrews DJs certainly possess talent in spades, however our cramped nightlife does not provide much wiggle room in what genres they may play. “You could be the best technical DJ in the world,” says Mr Todd, “but the club will empty if you’ve got the wrong vibe.” We have grown accustomed to house, throwbacks and the occasional trap remix, all of which make for enjoyable yet monotonous nights. To strip the concept to its barest essential: You can walk into any club in St Andrews and immediately recognise it as a St Andrews club.
500 draws inspiration from the international club scene. Managing Director Julie Lewis recounts the epiphany that she experienced this past summer in Ibiza, whilst watching the sun set from behind the DJ booth of Café Mambo. “The drinks were flowing, the vibe was amazing, the lights were great. The place was just so alive, in that single moment, and I felt like I was a part of something so much bigger than some small night out. I looked around and I thought, ‘Why can’t we do this in St Andrews?’”
Just as Ms Lewis’s revelation occurred in Ibiza, Mr Todd found his muse in the London bar Aqua Kyoto. “It wasn’t my final destination,” he recalls. “It was the starting line for a much bigger night out. I was sat up there on the rooftop, looking out over Regent Street, and I realised how perfectly it combined classy and fun, energetic and busy. There was this great vibe, with the music at the perfect volume for chatting without any awkward silences. It was just this constant sense of anticipation that led to a fantastic night somewhere else.”
500 does not intend to be a final destination. Beginning at 9pm, it eschews the traditional St Andrews concept of arriving fashionably late for the sake of extended pre-drinks. Here, students may begin their nights in style. The £5 cocktail menu, exclusive to Tuesday evenings, will transform The Adamson Bar into an accessible venue for students of all demographics. “It’s very much about coming and enjoying the party before you go to a party,” summarises Ms Lewis. The cocktails will no longer be a rare treat for the student budget, but instead a weekly occurrence.
When asked to select a song that could define the 500 experience, Mr Todd is reluctant: “I could name any song, but no one would know it. People aren’t meant to sing along to this music. We’re aiming to create a vibe, not to make another club night. 500 is about atmosphere.” He does suggest “literally anything by The Magician” as the ideal songs to play while reading this article.
A well-known name in St Andrews, Mr Todd did not intend to become a DJ. “It started at a house party in my second year. I had just bought some secondhand decks, kind of on a whim, and it was my first time really using them. Someone from the Bongo Ball committee approached me, saying they liked my stuff, and suddenly I was booked to play at the ball that year.”
Now a fourth year, his CV has grown to include a summer stint in Menorca, Grad Ball for the past two years, May Ball, Ma Bells, and Freshers’ Week. “It doesn’t feel like a job,” he says. “It feels like a chance to go out and have a great time with people. But it would be nice if people didn’t make out against my decks all the time.”
His capability is matched by Ms Lewis, herself recently nominated for the Scottish Businesswoman of the Year award.
“People can come here and be a part of something,” she says. “Tuesday nights are institutions in St Andrews, and The Adamson recognises that. We do a two-for-one burger club every week, and now we’ll have an act to follow that.”
This magnanimity befits The Adamson’s reputation as a strong supporter of student culture. Hardly an event is thrown without the restaurant being named as a sponsor, and students frequently name the bar as their favourite place for chic drinks.