The 64 best bars in Sydney right now
Summer 2023 update: The warm sunny weather is here, and we don’t know about you but we’re ready to crack a cold one (or several). Whether you’re heading out on a date, want an after-work tipple, or in for a long session, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to ace bars in Sydney. Below, you’ll find the very best ones. This list represents our picks of the best bars in Sydney right now, from fresh faces to tried-and-tested temples of great drinks, ranked by our local editors, critics and fellow booze hounds including Time Out Sydney's Food & Drink Writer Avril Treasure. We’re looking for quality above all, with fun, flavour, atmosphere, creativity and options at every price point. At the moment we're digging killer sake bar Ante, Freshwater's beloved Stowaway Bar, PS40 for brilliant cocktails and Bar Copains for excellent vino (and vibes). Cheers to you, Sydney. After a watering hole that's a bit more casual? See our list of the best pubs in Sydney, here. After a meal? Check out our best restaurants here.
The best Mexican restaurants in Sydney right now
For devotees of genuine Mexican fare, it's a great relief that Sydney is no longer only served by the tacky Tex-Mex, stand-and-stuff, burrito-centric eateries there were once the sole expression of the cuisine readily available here. There's now an exciting new wave of Mexican diners sweeping Sydney, with nary a pinata, sombrero or lucha libre mask in sight. We're not saying there isn't a time and a place for a bowl of liquid queso and a dorito or two - there really is - but with a culture and cuisine that spans thousands of years and dozens of regions, it's a crime to assume that Old El Paso and a cartoonishly large frozen Margarita is anything close to 'authentic'. Prime your palate for the true flavours of Mexico with our guide to the best Mexican eateries in Sydney, curated by Time Out Sydney's Food & Drink Writer Avril, and fellow critics. Keen to get around some killer spots for an arvo tequila or two? Check out Sydney's best rooftop bars right now Love spice? Check out our guide to Sydney's hottest Thai restaurants Thirsty? Have a look at the best bars in Sydney right now
The best bars in Sydney's CBD right now
There was a dark time, not so long ago, when after-work drinks in Sydney city were limited to chain pubs and huge booze barns with no soul. Those were your options, like it or lump it. Fast forward less than a decade and Sydney's CBD now possesses one of the best bar scenes in the country, from underground hideaways to cool-as-hell speakeasies to lofty cocktail lounges with mixology maestros at the helm. You can drink life-changing wines, the freshest ales, and fruity elixirs made from seasonal harvests – sometimes you can do it all in the same place. These are the very best places to take an elbow and indulge in a few drinks in the heart of Sydney. Want more? Sydney is filled with ace rooftop bars, bars with a view and beer gardens.
Meet the crew: Astral People
For a lot of people, club culture is about being exposed to music that they don’t already have in their iTunes library. Don’t get us wrong, we like shaking it to golden oldies at and getting cheesy to ’90s hits, but sometimes we just want to kick it to some fresh stuff. Enter Astral People, an artist management and events brand that pushes off-kilter electronica on tour and into Sydney.What started as a couple of club events back in 2011 to showcase artists like Collarbones and Jonti, who the boys (Tom Huggett, Lee Danilewitz and Vichara Edirisinghe) To were already managing at the time has quickly gained a landslide of momentum. “The brand is getting stronger and we are starting to see that people really trust us,” says Huggett. “We just toured an act called Knxwledge, who isn’t too big at the moment, and we ended up selling out Goodgod. He said it was the biggest show that he’s ever done, and he’s from LA.” “Another guy came up to us after one of our shows and said, ‘I had no idea who this act is, but I came because I saw the Astral logo was on the flyer’,” adds Edirisinghe. “For us, peoples’ trust in the brand is the most rewarding thing." The beat-bent boys have more upcoming international tours, artist showcases and club events than they can reasonably manage. And with street press and online music sites pushing headlines declaring Sydney’s live music scene to be a “tough climate” [Mess + Noise, Mar 2012] and in a “state of emergency” [Tone Deaf, Mar 2012], this run-off-
Listings and reviews (7)
Johnny Goes Italian
As of April 2019, Johnny Fishbone is Johnny Goes Italian, a wine bar and Italian eatery by the same owners. The review below from June of 2017 is about Johnny Fishbone; Johnny Goes Italian has yet to be reviewed. Johnny Fishbone has arrived on the site of defunct cocktail bar Hinky Dinks, and retro charm has given way to contemporary cool. This is a bar that is refined and sexy, but didn’t lose the fun in the refurb. It’s not just the drinks that impress us (but we’ll rave on those shortly). Everything is perfect, from the snack menu that demands an order of ‘one of everything’, to the photoshoot-worthy lighting and house party soundtrack. It was love at first sight when we arrived one Saturday night. The space is clean, modern and romantic. A wide marble bar and wood panelled walls provide a classic canvas for the hero of the place: the wine inventory, which lines the room. The focus of the list is organic and skin contact, and there’s some intriguing categories – and bottles – on the menu. It’s divided into famous Johns. John C Reilly reigns over the bubbles. Bon Jovi tops the pinks and oranges. And John Wayne does the classics. Got a thing for orange wine? The Beast is a great pick for fans that like a firm funk. It’s a full skin contact verdelho from the Hunter with big unfiltered texture. Continue your skin contact trip out to Slovenia – yes, Slovenia makes great wine. The Stekar Malvazija is exxy, but it pays dividends with its smooth, herbal flavour, achieved with
Chippendale just keeps on booming. Between Brickfields, makers of some of Sydney’s finest bread, cellar door-cum-DJ den Cake Wines, party bar Freda’s, and must-try restaurants Ester and Automata, the inner-city suburb has everything a Sydneysider needs – you never have to leave the 2008. Sneaky Possum has just joined the burb’s bar ranks, and they’ve brought bright murals, a lengthy Aussie beer list and great banter to the post. It’s open from 6.30am till late most days, and is quickly cultivating a relaxed neighbourhood feel soundtracked by chilled, bluesy tunes from the likes of Matt Corby and Alabama Shakes. We recognise one of the bartenders from her yogi duties at high-end yoga studio and Chippo hot spot, Humming Puppy, a few blocks away. She says she’ll be combining her drink-making and asana skills at Sneaky Possum soon. So stand by for a drink-in-hand yoga flow or two For now, you can take your drinks on high stools at the bar, with a view of the energetic, open-plan kitchen. Or out the back past the pinball machines in a seated dining room lined with native flower arrangements and murals of possums and gum leaves. There’s a different kind of local fauna on one of the bar’s exterior walls, where local artist Scott Marsh (‘Kanye Loves Kanye’, ‘Casino Mike’) has paid tribute to Chippo’s humble “bin chicken” with a large-scale ibis mural. Inside, the drinks are focused on local legends, too. On our visit, we find a very pale XPA from Balter Brewing in Queensland and Batc
The Long Goodbye
The Long Goodbye, a noir little bar that has taken up residence in the terrace that once housed the Hazy Rose, reminds us happily of one of the area’s last vestiges of nightlife bohemia: Baron’s. Up an old staircase on Roslyn St, Baron’s was a cosy room full of Chesterfields, peeling paint and classic tunes that closed in mid-2007. There wasn’t a taxidermy or mini golf gimmick in sight. Nor were there any menus. The Long Goodbye has adopted strikingly similar approaches to interior design, service and vibes. And it’s not at all pretentious. Sink into a cracked leather lounge and talk the friendly bartenders through your favourite flavours. Sweet or citrus? Fresh, fragrant or filthy? We opt for the latter of each and are promptly delivered a punchy South Side and a very, very dirty Martini. Both are well balanced and boozy. For slightly less traditional libations, ask for the bar’s namesake drink: The Long Goodbye. It’s similar to the South Side, with smoky Mezcal subbed in for the gin. Looking for something a little more unusual? There’re plenty of experimental house-made liqueurs, infusions and unexpected bitters on the back wall. There also isn’t a food menu, but the friendly staff are happy for you to bring up food from any of Stanley Street’s restaurants. One bartender, with a full head of peroxide blonde hair – freshly dyed for the bar’s recent Buffy fan night – serves 80s and 90s film and TV trivia with his drinks. He tells us they’ve got other cult film and TV nights
Double bay is back in the game, dear readers, and the latest bar to join drinking spots Mrs Sippy and Bibo Wine Bar is a laneway cocktail destination. Brick Lane feels like a hip courtyard bar in Palermo – the largest and coolest neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. But if only it was running on Argentinean time! The kitchen sadly closes at 9pm on a Thursday. The design is modern, elegant and tropical, with rough concrete, rattan chairs and split leaf palms. Neon tube lighting is clustered around a DJ booth in one corner, and prints of Wilfredo Lam and Miró sit along an exposed beam. The fit-out is care of Alex Zabotto-Bentley and his AZBcreative team (Kittyhawk, Butter) and it feels fresh and airy. Take a seat out in the black and white tiled courtyard and prepare for an equally contemporary cocktail list. There’s a new take on a rum punch and an Espresso Martini laced with coconut, but we go straight for the frozen stuff. We’ve tried Frosé and Friesling, but this is Time Out’s first sighting of Frozsecco – yep, frozen Prosecco. Sure, it’s gimmicky, but we fall into the mini mountain slushie hook, line and sinker. It’s not too sweet or fizzy, and is served with a bright purple hibiscus tucked into one of its peaks. We expected subcontinental eats befitting a food tour of London’s Brick Lane, but instead found a list of modern Australian bar staples: burgers, burrata, and a fig and walnut salad join tacos, oysters and steak. The prawn roll is a nice balance of sweet, pickled and cr
Neighbourhood - Bondi
This no-fuss Bondi bar has a backyard feel, but the food and drinks are worlds away from what you’d whip up at your Campbell Parade pad. Start with a Bramble, Bush and Briar. Like a honeyed Negroni, it’s a sweet and welcome take on the classic aperitif. Then jump on board the city’s skin contact craze. A glass of the Tangerine Inkwell Dub Style No. 1 Viognier is dry and fragrant with the perfect amount of funk. For snacking, there’s toasties and a deliciously rich mac and cheese. Or you can play it like a Bondi local and order the poke and ceviche. Light and dressed with citrus, they’re well matched with the buttery Ngeringa chardonnay. We recommend visiting for a Sunday session after a swim at the beach. You’ll find a DJ in the main bar playing ’90s R’n’B, and they do a hearty $30 Sunday roast with a matched glass of wine.
Since I Left You
Sydney nightlife isn’t stacking up to Melbourne’s at the moment, but a few inner-city bars are working hard to keep some Emerald City skin in the game. Head through a cobbled laneway below a grand sandstone building on Kent Street and you’ll find Since I Left You’s courtyard canopied in fairy lights. Tall city buildings surround it on all sides and local soul band Audio Soup cranks sexy covers of Bill Withers and Charles & Eddie. It’s reminiscent of Melbourne’s much-loved, now-closed St Jerome’s laneway bar, where the Avalanches got their start. And considering the name, we don’t think that’s a coincidence. A local tap beer feels like the perfect order for this ramshackle but charming open-air bar but alas, there aren’t any on the menu. Order a short and boozy Mezcal Negroni instead. The woody smokiness is a good match with owner Nick White’s whipped and creamy “famous guacamole”.
This underground rum bar below Clarence Street is named after Cuban sugar baron Julio Lobo. A cluttered but cohesive mix of flamingo tiles, rattan chairs, banana palms and crumbling patina surfaces provide weathered Cuban charm. But the real visual focus is the bartenders. They create with precision. And fire, if you order the Old Grogram. Slip into the Chesterfield booth seating and prepare for a fabulous tiki mini-break for your mouth (the kitsch cocktail illustrations on the menu will help you decide on a destination). The White Negroni Daiquiri is tart, puckered perfection, made with white rum, Lillet Blanc, Suze (a herbal, bitter spirit from France that’s gaining popularity in Sydney bars), lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters. Coco’s Old Fashioned is a creamy pick for rum heads with a sweet tooth, as is the Rum and Rye Old Fashioned, especially if you choose the Fiji-spiced rum as the starring booze. And the Bajan Julep – a Bramble-Mojito lovechild with practically a whole mint tree pressed in – is very refreshing. The bar snacks are hella good, too. The empanadas are spicy little pillows of deliciousness and the three-cheese papas rellenas are smoky and soft. If you need something big and filling, order the house take on a Cuban sandwich that is packed with ham and pulled pork, cheese, mustard and pickles. There’s a whole lot of talent behind the bar here, and they take pride in a job well done. The bottom line? Make tracks to this plantation paradise, stat. Time Ou