From Old Mate’s Place to Dean and Nancy on 22, this list from our bar-hopping experts includes spots that are worth visiting for their great cocktails and incredible atmospheres.Less
Maybe Sammy is an award-winning cocktail bar that boasts a sophisticated 1950s-inspired décor, impeccable service, and a unique menu of classic and creative cocktails, making it a must-visit destination for cocktail enthusiasts and visitors to the city.
Finding the bar for the first time is half the fun. Head into the doorway, and start your walk up the stairs until you find a white door with a responsible service of alcohol plaque on the door. You’ll be welcomed by what appears to be a library-style bar, head upstairs and you’ll find one of the best rooftop bars in Sydney that overlooks the CBD. We stick to the classics when we visit, but you could explore any one of their fan-favourite cocktails. This Sydney bar isn’t a great option for food.
It turns out one of Sydney’s newest bars is also one of the best. Located in the basement of Hinchcliff House near Circular Quay, we first visited Apollonia in late 2022. In the time since then, we’ve been back a few times as we can’t go past their range of cocktails and overall atmosphere. Check it out mid-week because the venue is increasing in popularity and is very small, with enough space for around forty guests. In terms of drinks, the pineapple negroni is our pick of the bunch.
No list of the best bars in Sydney is complete without a prohibition-style bar and Palmer & Co is leading the pack in this department. For the non-history buffs, this means jazz, oldie costumes, and some great whiskey-based cocktails. In terms of drinks, we can’t go past their signature cocktails, with our favourite being the Apache with Jim Beam Rye Whiskey, Campari, Lemon, Honey Ginger, and Saline. The range of snacks on offer here is one of the best in the city.
The Baxter Inn is a Sydney bar with the widest range of whiskey in the city. If you’re a fan of live blues, visit on a Sunday and relax with some great music and an even better range of house cocktails. We can’t go past the Nighthawks with house-blended scotch, sweet vermouth, PX sherry, coffee bean amaro, and mole bitters. Of course, a range of American beers, pale ales, and wines are also available with a focus on Australian varietals.
Home to the best happy hour in Sydney, Employees Only is welcoming to all. We simply cannot go past the happy hour that offers half-price food and drinks from 5-6pm on Tues-Thur, including their famous Truffle Mornay 700g lobster (priced down to just $80). Sitting somewhere between a pub and a bar, we usually head in for a drink after work, so their range of tap beers hit the spot. However, the cocktails are also a smash hit amongst our team, with the ‘Improved Margarita’ being a favourite.
A delicious concoction of whisky, art and cocktails right in the centre of Sydney’s Chinatown, Bancho Bar is the ultimate drinking hole for whisky cocktail lovers in Sydney. The menu features an impressive selection of Japanese and Scotch whisky, with plenty of rare and independent bottlings to keep you coming back for more. If you’re looking for a bar with the best highballs in Sydney, you can’t go past Bancho’s Yuzu Royale.
Mid-century decadence awaits you at Dean and Nancy on 22. We’re big fans of this intimate bar known for its playful cocktails and its views, located on a rooftop in Sydney’s CBD. When it comes to the drinks, we can’t go past the ‘Great Synagogue’ complete with wyborowa vodka, cocchi americano, white cacao, peach, and beetroot soda. They’ve also got a selection of nibbles to keep you going throughout the evening—burrata, oysters, and cured tuna, just to name a few.
With a focus on gin, The Barber Shop is found by walking through the back of (you guessed it) a barbershop. This Sydney bar has become an increasingly popular choice from the spirits menu, and with more than 80 bottles of gin on their shelves, you’ll be spoilt for choice. They have you covered on the food front too, with one of our favourite sausage rolls in Sydney. Yes, in a bar.
One of the best Japanese bars in Sydney, Tokyo Bird is what your sake dreams are made of. Hidden away in Surry Hills, it’s a low-key venue that we love for its Japanese cocktails, favourites of ours include the Yuzu Spritz and Japanese Negroni that use Roku Gin, Punt e Mes sweet vermouth, orange umeshu (plum wine), and a slice of orange. In terms of food, we can’t go past the katsu chicken nuggets that have us asking ‘McWho?’.