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Sydney's favourite local small bars

This is a celebration of some of Sydney’s little wonders, where size really doesn’t matter, including the size of your bill

Photograh: Anna Kucera

There’s little more enticing than a neighbourhood small bar. A neat, warm place where you can go for a quiet drink after work, or spend a whole evening gossiping over olives and Martinis with friends. This is a celebration of some of Sydney’s little wonders, where size really doesn’t matter, including the size of your bill. Because being customer-first in 2016 means giving people options, none of these joints have card minimums.


The Little Guy

Every suburb needs a little guy – a tiny bar wedged in on the main street between a Student Flights and a pasta joint, one that serves the drinks you wish you could have at home, in surrounds just as comfortable. Feeling like some quiet time? Head upstairs and stretch out on one of the lounges like a territorial house cat with a generous pour of the easy-drinking house pinot. Brought your tribe with you? Lay claim to the back room packed with foot stools and vintage chairs.

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Dead Ringer

What we are loving about this place is that it’s pitch perfect for midweek drinking. The line between restaurant and bar here isn’t so much blurry as it is indistinguishable, which is a smart way to play things in the lockout zone. A T’Angelo Spritz is the kind of persuasive primer that takes a quick drink and turns it into dinner and nightcap before you realise where your night went. Meanwhile, their deck just begs for a lazy, sunny afternoon spent snacking, sipping and chatting.

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Surry Hills

Golden Age Bar

You know what happiness is? It's sitting down to a Gruyère, pastrami, sauerkraut and pickle toastie, with a maple pecan Old Fashioned on the side in the Golden Age Cinema’s subterranean cinema and bar. You don't even need to be there for a film, the Art Deco vibes are drawcard enough for a night out. It’s quite, it’s intimate and they do popcorn in milkshake cups, not to mention their great lineup of free live music on Thursday evenings.

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Surry Hills

Bulletin Place

There are two things, straight off the bat, that make this pocket-sized CBD bar the standard setter it is. That’s the drinks and the service. No matter who is shaking up their short, sharp and perfectly executed menu, scrawled on brown paper with a sharpie at the beginning of each service, you're in for a win. Their cocktail menu is highly seasonal and produce driven, so whatever you get, it will be fresh and delicious. Sure, you have to get in early on a Friday night, but it’s worth knocking off work at four to score yourself a table.

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Circular Quay

The Wine Library

You can always opt for a crowd-pleasing drop at the Wine Library, but that needn’t mean it’ll be run of the mill. There’s a cool, textural vermentino from La Sorga in southern France that spends only a week on skins – it’s a gateway to freakier skin-contact wines further down the track. There are plenty of familiar varieties for the pinot noir devotees, but this is a safe space – get outside your comfort zone and you’ll discover something dynamite. In fact your bartender here is packing a whole cache of awesome recommendations; he’s just waiting for the ‘go’ order from you.

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A bar like Kittyhawk is worth waiting for. Broadly speaking, the design is inspired by Liberation Day in Paris (August 25, 1944), and, more specifically, by the Rum and Rye cocktail that is at the very top of their list. You’re really going to like Kittyhawk. It’s got that old-world luxury vibe that means you feel right at home in your tailored work-wear, which means from 5.30 to 7.30 pm the place is rammed. By 8 things settle into a stable rhythm, which is good because once you’re in it’s very hard to leave.

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Titus Jones

Titus Jones has brought cocktails and cheeseboards to this corner of Sydney, and there’s a serious emphasis on the ‘small’ in this small bar. Stools line the narrow gullet of the bar, and we’re pretty sure you’d need to live next door for any chance of scoring those street-side glory seats. You’re accompanied by a pretty top notch hip hop soundtrack that reminds us of our misspent youth. It’s a welcoming bolt hole where you can post up at the timber bar, order a well-made cocktail, a local beer, maybe a little cheese and have a chat to your neighbours.

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