In Darlinghurst you're spoiled for choice when it comes to excellent boozing options. Maybe you feel like nautical cocktails and a lobster burger? Or would a Boilermaker and a bowl of monkey nuts suit you better? The one thing we can all agree on, surely, is that when top notch cocktails are the order of the day, you want a five star bar with the best in the business mixing your drinks. You can find in all in this boozy pocket of the East.
This Must Be the Place is the bar that Darlinghurst’s portion of Oxford Street has been crying out for. This excellent new establishment is brought to you by veterans Charlie Ainsbury and Luke Ashton, so that’s a whole lot of talent packed behind one little polished timber counter. Prepare to fall in love with spritzers. We’re not talking the white wine variety – here the bar team are broadening the definition of the drink with delicious results.
Start with a set-up - that's a whiskey with a beer back. You can have a can of the sessionable Coopers Malt with some bottom-shelf basics on one hand, but you can also trade up with a Rosita, a crisp, artisan-made Spanish blond beer, and on the other, something along the lines of a measure of Eagle Rare, just one of the fine bourbons and ryes on pour.
Eau de Vie is hidden in the back of the Kirketon Hotel. The cocktail bar is staffed by a team who are as much about having a good time as they are making you the best damned cocktails in Sydney. The range of booze is mind blowing, and owner Sven Almenning is also in possession of the greatest collection of antique cocktail accessories in the country.
Big Poppa’s has opened on Oxford Street, just across the road from celebrated late night snackeries Mr Crackles and BL Burgers, and let us tell you this: those guys have got some serious competition. It’s owned by Lewis Jaffrey (ex-Baxter Inn) and Jared Merlino (ex-Lobo Plantation), with a bar managed by Earl Juke Joint’s famed Irish bartender, Bobby Carey. There is a little restaurant upstairs at street level, which is all dark wood and classic feels, then downstairs there’s a moodily-lit bar that’s almost double the size.
Its namesake might have notched up an impressive criminal career in prostitution, illegal brothels, sly grog, and the odd razor gang scuffle, but the backstreet comparisons stop at the location for this laneway wine bar. Even though it was one of the early adopters in the small bar boom, Love Tilly Devine is no less popular today than it was four years ago – securing those window seats is a badge of honour not many have earned.
A night at the Darlo is as close to a guarantee of good times as Sydney is able to give. This community living room on a Darlinghurst corner is the first port of call for mid week pool comp, they boast a trivia night that has been stumping smart-phone cheaters for five fact-filled years and there’s a weekday happy hour that helps you stretch your booze budget just that little bit further.
Scattered plants and cosy wooden tables in the courtyard make the Commons a summer hot spot within the 2010 zone, but the bar’s sandstone rooms are where it’s at all year round. A three-level, split-storey building just off Oxford Street, it has a dining room that is warm, brightly lit and buzzing with loud chatter as groups chug vino and snack on the killer ploughman’s lunch.
Pocket is one of the city’s original small bars and still offers plenty of reasons to visit. The bar staff are knowledgeable, on the ball and can whip up a cocktail deserving of its price tag. Add a soundtrack that flips between the Preatures and the Searchers and an extensive drinks menu, including cocktails with fun names like ‘bunga bunga’ and ‘take your clothes off’ – the latter made with tequila, agave honey, lime, pear puree and a pinch of cinnamon – and you have a delightful package worthy of a space in Sydney’s ever-expanding bar scene.