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 2017 means giving people options, none of these joints have card minimums.
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 cheeky 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.
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 and Saturday evenings.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
This is the sort of place that you drop into before dinner reservations, after seeing a show, or just because you’ve got an hour or so to kill. The service is warm, attentive but never overbearing; they win all the points for the elegant simplicity of their bar snack options (tinned seafood and hot buttered toast); and the drinks are the best in the city. The Gloss – strawberry, citrus vodka, watermelon riesling and rosewater – has earned a permanent place on the menu, and in the hearts of Sydneysiders who want to be as gently refreshed as the subjects in a Renoir painting. For something ballsier the Coffee and Cigarettes is like a flavour boxing match – you’re not sure who’s winning between the coffee-flavoured gin, Aperol, Campari, vermouth and amaretto, but experiencing the fight is the fun part, anyway.
If you’d rather snuggle up with a vino and book than sink shots at a Coyote Ugly-style bar, the Temperance Society is definitely the place for you. You can grab a Young Henrys cider, a Rocks lager or an Ironbridge ale in a $5 pot, a $10 pint or a $17 jug and, if the room temp is chilly enough for your tastes, there are six reds (and just as many whites) by the glass that max out at $14. There are plenty of wine bars where ten bucks will barely buy you a scoop of olives, so hurry up and order a bowl of the Sicilians for $3.50 or, if you’re feeling a bit more peckish, jump on the opportunity to get a big hunk of cheddar with some tiny pickled onions, cornichons and bread ($9).