The Adamson ft. Alasdair Todd

adamson bar black and white
Photo: The Adamson

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.

super hot and talented girl smiles at the adamson label launch
Photo: Sammi Ciardi

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.

adamson bar black and white
Photo: The Adamson

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.”

alasdair todd dj
Photo: Lorelei Pfeffer

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.


  1. Shame on you The Saint, for printing this off and giving it to Freshers, acting like it’s respectable

    This is free publicity, bribed conflict-of-interest ‘journalism’. It is Class-A attention-grabbing, unsubstantiated hype with no content. The personal interests of Natasha Franks are front-and-centre (as is her own face, see: the lady in the blue dress, first picture).

    For gross irony, let’s pit this ‘article’ against the words of its own author, as published elsewhere in the same print edition:

    “Reviews are written for the consumer, not the creator. They seek to determine the worth of an event.”
    Ironically, this review is written BY the consumer (who always gets free-entry as “Events Editor”), FOR the creator (as free publicity), without even a hint of impartiality (hyping an un-tested event as “Tuesday night’s newest staple event”).

    She criticizes participation awards
    “Simply for making an appearance, children were draped in accolades. Not only did this detract from the value of a first place prize, but it fostered the notion that participation warrants praise in its own right.”
    “showing face does not inherently imply reward. And yet, people remain convinced that their every inferior effort is entitled to a standing ovation”
    “He turns on his iPod, and generic house music fills the room.”

    … but then lauds Alistair Todd, who’s effortless instant success is the definition of ‘participation award’.
    “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.””

    I don’t even need to say it, she’s already perfectly described her own writing:
    “Just as we turn in essays to be graded, we host events [WRITE ARTICLES] to be judged, and there is no person or institution that is above the occasional critique. If everybody receives a medal, so to speak, then what incentive do people have to improve? Should we really support the continuation of such a cycle of mediocrity? I don’t believe that we should.”
    She’s right, we shouldn’t support her cycle of mediocrity either.

    She defends ‘criticism’, but never criticizes anything. How is PURE PRAISE a ‘critique’ when her “review” lists no comments or criticisms or drawbacks?
    “the occasional flop does appear on our yearly lineup. Students, particular [sic] those already short on cash, should be wary of this rare misstep, much as film audiences are inclined to shun poorly reviewed movies. Criticism saves our pocketbooks, and in doing so fulfils its role of improving the world. It is unfortunate, therefore, that justified negative reviews tend to be met with hostility, defensiveness and anger.”
    As 500 had no real precedent, Natasha Franks had no way to justify her ‘review’ – making it unsubstantiable hype (a poor review at that, seeing as the event only hit 1/3 capacity).
    She’s defending “justified negative reviews”, but please, when was the last time she ever wrote ANYTHING negative about her clients (The Vic, FS, DW)? Less ‘critic’, more ‘pawn’.
    Until she does, she has no credibility as a ‘critic’, which is nothing more than a front to grant her free access to any social-climbing events she wants. This person doesn’t deserve their platform, vote to impeach.

  2. Previews are always meant to be positive, since they’re meant to generate hype (and guarantee a publication a press pass). This is a preview / interview, so of course it’s going to be positive. No more positive than any other preview that you could find in the saint, stand, tribe, whatever.

    As far as the author goes – she repeatedly wrote negative articles about large institutions, including FS, last year (see: Starfields review and its followup, the fashion shows ranking piece, the Year in Review article, and I’m sure many more).

    It’s not fair to handpick her positive pieces and claim she never criticises. Dig deep enough and you’ll find plenty of negative commentary, like I just did.


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