Being the unofficial capital of Australia, Sydney needs to bring its A-game when it comes to nightlife. Melbourne is usually the go-to recommendation if its quality bars and restaurants you’re after, but Sydney more than holds its own with some of the coolest restaurants and cocktails bars of its own.
But while cocktail-specific bars are niche, where do you go when you just want to go to a damn cool bar? Whether you’ve got a weekend date planned or you’ve got a squad together to go out on a bender, we’ve compiled a list of the coolest bars you need to try in Sydney.
From chilled Northern Beaches hang-outs to CBD holes-in-the-wall; inner-city hipster hotspots to fine dining rooftop bars, balconies, and bistros offering strong drinks and sweet views, we’ve got your weekend plans covered for the month, and year ahead.
Button Bar, Surry Hills
Button Bar is a trendy pirate-themed enclave hidden behind a humble wooden door. Although it’s perfect for weekday date nights, Button Bar is at it’s prime on a Saturday, when you can truly experience this cocktail slinging station come to life, by getting into an all-bar sing-a-long of the rock ‘n roll classics at 10.30pm.
Della Hyde, Darlinghurst
Della Hyde is a playful interpretation of hotel bars of the past—drawing inspiration from Wes Anderson films and offering sophisticated cocktails like the Sparkling Strawberry Daiquiri & gin-infused cold drip Count Negroni, as well as European & North African, influenced grub. If this place’s charming interior and good tunes don’t get you buzzing on a Friday night, nothing will.
RELATED: How To Make An Awesome Negroni
Stowaway is an evergreen watering hole just outside of the heart of Manly (in neighbouring suburb, Freshwater) where you will find local Four Pines brew on tap, a wide variety of wine, and plenty of cocktails on offer. The menu’s description of The Campfire Louie, a cocktail of vodka, applewood okar, fireball whiskey, mango puree, lemon & smoked cinnamon epitomises the Northern Beaches approach to life.
“At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair salty & your eyes staring into a blazing campfire or you may as well end it now.”
Darlo Country Club
Joining Sydney’s ever-growing creed of themed bars & restaurants, Darlo Country Club is a clever twist on the perennial Californian country clubs with sporting-inspired interiors and cocktails named after magnificent bastards of the past. Try the cherry, pineapple explosion ‘The Don’, or the tropical rum & herbal honey concoction, the ‘Howard Hughes’.
Butter, Surry Hills
What do you get when you combine fried chicken, Dom Pérignon & sleek sneakers? Butter, of course. This hybrid sneaker store, chicken shop & champagne bar is Surry Hills’ latest must-go beatnik joint.
Club 77, Darlinghurst
Sydney’s home of late night dance celebrations, the old Club 77, with its sticky dance floors, Bang Gang DJ sets & light night debauchery, has been revamped. Now it’s a classy drinker’s bar with a red neon ceiling, a 40-seat bar, and a menu of over 30 different beer options & more spirits than you can poke a tequila bottle at.
Koi Dessert Bar, Chippendale
Masterchef 2015 contestant Reynold Poernomo opened his long-awaited dessert bar and called it… You guessed it: Koi. This two-story glass building is a strong favourite amongst the Chippendale drink & dining scene. Koi offers delicious savoury options, but the heroes are the desserts. In fact, every cheat day we have it’s a struggle not to order everything on the menu.
Stillery, Double Bay
Stillery is a renovated five-star InterContinental Hotel in Double Bay, which has opened a lavish gin palace, where over 60 local and imported, rare and vintage gins can be sampled—enough to put even the snobbiest connoisseurs in high-spirits.
Each of the cocktails on the menu features a different gin paired with botanical ingredients that complement. We recommend blackberry and thyme, pink grapefruit and sage, or strawberry, basil oil and lemon—all incredibly refreshing, well-balanced medleys.
Employees Only, Sydney
This New York-style bar isn’t permanently reserved for use by its staff, but rather, it is a cocktail bar with restaurant that serves up delicious drinks and food. The bar team are some of the best in the business and will regularly come up with original cocktail ideas that you’ll be blown over by. The food menu, meanwhile, offers up a range of seafood alongside other New York favourites such as strip steak.
The Baxter Inn, Sydney
Clarence St is becoming a hub for some of the best bars in Sydney, and the Baxter Inn is one of the best whisky bars around. A sophisticated bar, the Baxter Inn features an extensive selection of top-shelf whiskies, plus classic cocktails, with a funky, underground, old-school vibe.
The Unicorn, Paddington
The old Unicorn pub in Paddington has been resurrected, but not into a new hipster small bar. With the help of Mary’s co-owner Kenny Graham, Young Henry’s Oscar McMahon and Porteño’s Elvis Abrahanowicz The Unicorn retains much of its Aussie pub appeal with dishes like steak, schnitty with mash and burgers and chips. As for drinks, The Unicorn keeps it down-to-earth with XXXX, VB, Resch’s and Coopers, living up to its reputation as a proud boiling billy of Aussie wine, beer, music, art, food and conversation.
Palisade Hotel, Millers Point
Located in Sydney’s historic Rocks precinct, the Palisade Hotel is a much-welcomed injection of luxury to an area often dedicated to pub crawls. The pub, hotel and cocktail lounge was refurbished in mid-2015 and now offers classy sangas, snacks, well-poured Guinness and champagne. It’s also a convenient pit stop for those checking out Barangaroo.
Ramblin’ Rascals, Sydney
Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, new kid on the Elizabeth Street block, has all the familiar trappings of a dive bar: pin-ups, wrestling championship belts, hats, a flamingo and a latex phallus. However, the rascals behind the bar are the friendliest blokes you’ll meet, and the saloon tunes will make it hard to leave. There are a lot of silly, colourful drinks on offer, but if you’re after something a little more subtle: order a Bare Bones, the house riff on a Vieux Carré.
Observatory Bar, Millers Point
Industrial technology, modern gastronomy and a tinge of fantasy conspire to create something truly special in Sydney’s most exclusive harbour side location. Opening its doors in spring 2018, Sydney’s Observatory Bar at The Langham, Sydney is a sophisticated space where you will discover an inventive cocktail and inspiring food menu, with a focus on bringing the best of the world to Sydney. Designed for guests seeking an elevated cocktail or fine wine experience, Observatory Bar offers a truly delectable night.