Thanks to a boom in the booze industry Sydney is filled with underground whisky clubs, decadent 1920s themed bars and the classy joints you would take your mum to. For the best company and the best concoctions, here are Sydney’s best bars.Less
The Rat Pack era influence at Maybe Sammy continues to waft out a cocktail list paying tribute to Sammy Davis Junior’s 1977 performance at the Sydney Opera House. So, if you’re wondering what effect porcini mushroom distillate perfume will have on your cocktail quaffing, whether red bell pepper juice and palo santo are both necessary in a twist on a margarita or if mini cocktails can get any more fun (they can), then a visit to this bar should be on top of your list.
This little gin bar is home to Sydney’s largest botanical collections. The 80+ juniper blends have been sourced from all corners of the globe and will sit alongside a wine list of old and new world wines. The downstairs space feels cosy and intimate, dotted with vintage leather banquettes, lounges, low tables and a fireplace.
By day, as Tiny’s Sandwich Bar, the venue greets the dawn with Single O coffees, fresh juices and produce-packed breakfasts, then a signature sandwich menu that elevates the humble sanga to a lunchtime legend. At dusk, the lights come up on a fabulous feature wall of drinks miniatures, and the neon sign says it all: save water, drink cocktails. After work, it’s Tiny’s time.
So, this isn’t your typical bar, but it does have over 350 bottles of international wine and a Mediterranean vibe to make you forget how far away Italy is. The light-filled Bistro in Randwick only popped up late last year and is being praised for its fresh perspective. While the wines are the main event, the food is definitely worth a try, especially as a pair to a glass of wine. What sets this bar apart is the bottle shop concept, meaning you can take home the blend you had with your meal.
No best bar list is complete without at least mentioning Opera Bar—Sydney’s most iconic bar (nay Australia’s). The bar sits under the Opera House and has direct views of the Harbour Bridge which makes it a tourist must-do, although, during summer, the bar is packed with locals. The cocktail list is extensive with everything from spritzes to the Spring Sangria, which is made for sharing. The wine list shows off Australia’s top bottles and has a special spot for local producers.
Mary’s Underground is a classic late-night, let your hair down go-to Sydney bar. With locations in Newtown and Circular Quay, it’s quite easy to wound up munching on a burger and telling your life story to a bartender here—which is what the brand is all about. Enjoy the live bands, slam shots, or sip on wines and cocktails with friends. Mary’s Underground is the kind of place you go to welcome disruption.
In 2014, Archie Rose Distilling Co introduced a distillery to Sydney, which hadn’t had one since the 1850s. Today, it’s an operating distillery and a bar, where many Sydneysiders love to get an Archie Rose fix. As you can imagine, the menu is full of the brand’s signature serves including Archie Roses’ gin and tonic. The bar itself has an industrial vibe, with copper, wood, steel, and concrete creating a striking space to savour the spirits.
Stumble down a dark alleyway to find this 18th-century inspired London tavern, The Duke of Clarence. Fun fact, the old books lining the shelves and most of the furnishings are from film sets. Their drinks are serious and come with a side of a chat. You can’t go past the Irish coffee, but also the spritz and Vauxhall garden cocktails are thirst quenchers. If you’re there for a drink, don’t be surprised if the food menu sucks you in. Think scotch eggs, fish and chips, pies, and roast Sundays.
This small underground bar channels the culture, soul, and magic of New Orleans with gas-lit street lamps and a velvet-lined entry. The drinks are inspired by famous drinkers from Hemingway to Buddy Bolden. The Sezerac is a signature tipple and done in two ways: the traditional five parts cognac to one part absinthe, or the new angle, which will leave you to find out.
For a summer rooftop vibe, you can’t go past Babylon, which also happens to be one of Sydney’s largest outdoor rooftop terraces. Here, you’ll find a Levantine-inspired venue, with a restaurant, bar, and private dining space, but the bar is the place to be. The cocktail list takes its cues from flavours and spices of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, plus there’s a whisky list (250+) and more than 400 bottles of international and Australian spirits.