Sydney is exactly the sort of place where hundreds of cocktail bars would naturally spring up. And what do you know, hundreds absolutely have. Only a few have really captured the punters’ imagination though, shining through with a genuine devotion to good booze, proper mixology, and creativity above all else.
Here are the best cocktail bars in Sydney for your next up-market boozing session.
In this Sydney cocktail bars story
The Barber Shop
89 York Street, Sydney, 2000
Looking for a cocktail bar where you can get yourself a fresh new haircut and follow it up with a world-class cocktail? Then The Barber Shop is the place for you. Head down to the York Street entrance of this Sydney CBD cocktail bar and you’ll be greeted by an unassuming storefront that discreetly masks a bar out the back.
The Barber Shop excel when it comes to gin, boasting one of Australia’s leading gin collections, alongside an immense cocktail menu inspired by classic British & American concoctions from the 1800s & 1900s. You’d be a fool to pass up when getting your next cutthroat shave.
Earl’s Juke Joint
407 King St, Newtown, 2042
Sydney has been taking on the rockabilly vibes of the American south for a while now, but few places have cracked it quite like Earl’s Juke Joint’s take on the classic buzz of New Orleans. Recommended by avid cocktail drinkers and distillers alike, Earl’s is a Sydney cocktail bar strictly devoted to serving you the best cocktails possible. Even their charcuterie snack boards are outsourced from across the road, so the bartenders can focus on what they do best.
That means some of the best and most inventive cocktails you may have ever tried. Their signature list changes often, and cocktails tend to favour those who enjoy darker spirits, but the gung-ho team at this Newtown cocktail bar will be able to serve you up anything you desire.
Ramblin Rascal Tavern
199 Elizabeth St, Sydney, 2000
Ramblin’ Rascal strips away everything exclusive about modern-day cocktail bars, except the quality alcohol. You won’t find bartenders wearing shirts and ties here, oh no. Instead, the crackpot team of next-level bartenders tend to wear whatever they damn well please (usually just a pair of dungarees).
Don’t let that put you off, however, as Ramblin Rascal is easily one of the best cocktail bars in Sydney. Find the hidden entrance on Elizabeth Street and head underground to the confines of exposed brick and worn-leather booths. You can expect fantastic cocktails in a setting that will leave the less glamorously-minded feeling much more home. Drink like a champion, as they say, themselves.
155 Harrington Street, The Rocks, 2000
Maybe Sammy certainly deserves an entry on this list of best Sydney cocktail bars due to the sheer number of accolades it has won in just a few short years since it opened. The most recent is its 22nd place in the world’s 50 best bar awards 2021, along with being the cocktail bar of the year at the Australian bar awards 2020-21. So, what makes Maybe Sammy so great?
Well, expect a complete experience when you head here, not just a place to sit and enjoy a delicious cocktail. It’s all about 1950s Vegas here, with the bar itself named after Sammy Davis Jr. Staff are there to cater to your every whim, and will make you whatever drink you wish. Their speciality lies in Martinis, but the signature list of cocktails changes regularly.
Council Place, Sydney, 2000
From the team behind the inner-city Mexican joint Tio’s Crveceria comes this rather small, but rather excellent cocktail bar. While it is still all about Mexico at Cantina, OK! you best be sure you enjoy drinking mezcal, because nowhere else in the Southern Hemisphere does mezcal like this place. With an incredible collection inside the small 20-seat venue, the bar staff will be more than happy to guide you through the storied history of mezcal.
Oh, and Cantina, OK! also lays claim to producing Sydney’s best margarita, which, going by the number of cocktail bars in Sydney, this should be reason enough to make a trip.
Basement Lot 1, 209 Clarence Street, Sydney, 2000
Lovers of rum and the Caribbean simply must take a trip to The Lobo. Once you find the entrance on Clarence Street you’ll need to take the spiral staircase down to a cocktail bar that is simply teeming with a great atmosphere. Don’t be alarmed when you see fire (and you will see it), it’s just the bar staff torching cinnamon sticks for one of their outright classic cocktails, the Old Grogram.
While the signature cocktail list is predominantly rum-based, the bar staff will happily make you whichever drink you fancy, or may even suggest a rum-based alternative that they know you’ll love. Alongside the cocktails, there is a small food menu comprising empanadas and what can only be described as a mouth-watering Cuban sandwich.
Located between Pitt & Castlereagh Streets, entry via Level 4 Westfield Sydney, 108 Market Street, 2000
Yes, this may be Sydney’s highest cocktail bar which automatically gives it bragging rights, but the team behind this excellent cocktail bar, found at the top of Sydney Tower, give you plenty of reason to go other than the spectacular views. First and foremost, that includes the cocktails, which have been made using a slew of native Australian ingredients, with the menu offering a fine example of a producing nation Australia is.
Bar 83 is also a perfect bar for you to share with your Instagram followers. Not just for the sublime views of Sydney City, of course, but for the opulent art-deco meets The Jetsons style interior décor. We simply love. it.
Old Mate’s Place
Level 4, 199 Clarence St, Sydney, 2000
Just a few doors down from The Lobo is where you’ll find the entrance to Old Mate’s Place. Keep your eyes peeled, however, because it’s not what you would call ‘signposted’ outside. Head inside, jump into the elevator and head up to the fourth floor and you’ll be greeted by a dimly lit cocktail bar dedicated to cocktails and good times. Old Mate’s Place is a rooftop bar too, thanks to its split-level design, although the rooftop section isn’t exactly the biggest, so try and nab a spot early if you can.
With Sydney cocktail royalty at the helm in the form of Dre Walters (Kittyhawk, The Lobo) and Daniel Noble (Ramblin Rascal), you can be assured of drinking some of the best cocktails you’ll ever have the pleasure of trying.
The Swinging Cat
44 King Street, Sydney, 2000
Drawing inspiration from New Orleans in every direction: culture, soul and music, The Swinging Cat cocktail bar promises a great time no matter when you go. Found underground, you’ll be transported back to another era as you soon as you step inside. It’s all table service here – because after all, you’re there to enjoy your night, not lose your voice shouting over the music – which means you get to ask your server any questions you wish and they’ll have the answer for you.
With a live jazz swing band playing weekly, a trip to Sydney’s The Swinging Cat will offer the perfect getaway from your daily routine.
Double Deuce Lounge
6 Bridge St, Sydney, 2000
From the same team behind Ramblin’ Rascal comes another underground cocktail bar inspired by ’70s porno chic and which takes its name from the bar featured in the movie Roadhouse. The ‘porno’ theme can be seen throughout, with leather-lined booths, framed Playboy magazines and even a ‘kissing booth’ complete with its own furry wall. But, once you’ve taken in everything there is to see and gawk at, it’s time for a drink.
Fortunately, the team behind Double Deuce Lounge know their stuff, having been around the Sydney cocktail scene for some time. Here, you’ll find a range of classic cocktails, all with a modern Australian twist.
The Blind Bear
28 Cronulla St, Cronulla, 2230
That’s right, not all of Sydney’s best cocktail bars are found in the city itself. Take a short drive or a train down to Cronulla and get yourself down to The Blind Bear. As soon as you walk through the two doors you’re transported into an American-style saloon bar spread over two levels (there’s a second bar upstairs, too). While The Blind Bear does certainly put a strong focus on its ever-changing beer selection, the cocktail list has something for everybody.
And, if for whatever reason you can’t find a cocktail that calls your name, simply tell unbelievably friendly staff the sort of flavours and spirits you like, and you’re guaranteed to be presented with one of the best cocktails you would have ever had.
Jacoby’s Tiki Bar
154 Enmore Road, Enmore, 2042
While a majority of Sydney’s cocktail bars go down the Prohibition era route for inspiration, Jacoby’s Tiki Bar goes takes inspiration from the sunshine, good times and tropical islands. With a string of awards to its name, Jacoby’s is certainly worth a visit to find out what all the fuss is about.
Similar to The Lobo, Jacoby’s puts an emphasis on rum, but no matter your poison, you’ll be served an exceptional cocktail, although we’d recommend anyone who visits here try their signature Pina colada. Ultimately, a trip to Jacoby’s Tiki Bar will guarantee a great night unlike any other you might experience in Sydney.
Some other helpful DMARGE stories about places to drink in Sydney