Iconic Adelaide bar, Memphis Slim’s House of Blues, has instituted a creative approach to quickly training staff, which includes a rotational monthly menu.

The bar, which was Highly Commended at last year’s ALIAs, has adopted a monthly rotational menu, with the aim of improving the repertoire of recent hospitality recruits as quickly as possible, as owner and General Manager Michael Keogh explains. 

“My team’s great – but they’re probably a little bit younger than a lot of hospitality veterans, and they’re not as used to, I suppose, creating drinks on the fly,” Keogh says. 

“While I’ve got a team as fresh as they are, I’m just trying to get them used to my way of making drinks, so we’ve got a monthly rotational menu.

“Every month we’re dropping a new menu and trying to make sure that all of them [each menu] sing as hard as the last.”

When bringing through a new group of bartenders, Keogh explains, the general manager tries to shape their craft according to his vision of good hospitality. 

“It’s about picking people with the right attitudes to hospitality, that want to grow, and I suppose can be taught or be moulded, for lack of a better word, into our image of hospitality. 

“Gonzo Group owns Cry Baby, Memphis Slim’s, Shotgun Willie’s, but across all of our venues at least, if the staff aren’t having fun, then we’re not doing our job,” Keogh says.

Seasonal availability also heavily plays into menu decisions, as Keogh illustrates. 

“Our approach at the moment is more about what’s seasonally looking good at the time,” the owner says. 

But Keogh is also careful that this commitment doesn’t limit creativity, or produce a repetitive drinks offering. 

“If we’ve used something or done something before, we try not to reuse it as such – because it’s month after month, and certain vegetables or fruits might be good for two or three months. 

“If we’re going to reuse that fruit or vegetable or flavour, we try to use it in a different way – so seasonality plays a large role.”

And then, there’s the interesting concept of ‘anti-seasonal’ ingredients, as Keogh describes them. 

“We are trying to develop some ingredients as we go that will be, I suppose, ‘anti-seasonal’, like shelf stable – so you can use stone fruit in the heart of winter and things like that.”

As ever, there are commercial considerations at play too, with Keogh stating that the March menu is also based on “historically what sells well”.

“This menu is a little bit more banger forward – it’s hard to describe it other than that. It’s a little bit more fruity than previous menus. Some of these have been a bit too decadent and haven’t sold as well as others. But a fresh, bright, easily approachable menu is usually the one that’s best for us,” he continues. 

Keogh his favourites from the new list, and picks out a nicely balanced, refreshing option that demonstrates some of the principles he’s implementing at the bar. 

“I’m always a fan of a cooler and like fortified wine. We’ve got ‘Melvin’s Juice Box’ on, which is like, Angel’s Envy, Seppeltsfield DP117 (a South Australian version of Fino), peach acid and banana syrup we make here in-house.

“Just over pebble ice, nice sesame cracker with sumac sherbert and yeah – it’s tasty. It’ll do the job but it won’t put you on your arse and it’s got a lot of depth and a lot of body.”

See the recipe here

The monthly rolling menu comes at a busy time for the Adelaide bar, which has hosted a takeover from Sydney bar RE and has itself taken over local distillery, Imperial Measures, in recent weeks. Memphis Slim’s packed calendar of gigs and jams also continues.

Image, and header image, taken from the Memphis Slim’s Facebook page.

Memphis Slim’s House of Blues is located at the basement level of 22 Gilbert Place, Adelaide, and is open from 7pm-2am, Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays. 

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