What's not to love about a suburb that boasts both a harbour waterfront and a beautiful beach with a cracking surf break? That's why Manly is such a popular spot. But once the sun goes down and you've changed out of your sandy togs, you need indoor entertainment, and ideally, a drink. Whether you want Tokyo-inspired highballs at Daniel San, beachside brews at 4 Pines or fine wines at Manly Wine, there's a bar for every taste in Manly.
Feeling peckish? Why not slide on into one of Manly's best restaurants.
Raise a glass at these Manly bars
This little Jamaican place on Manly’s sort-of bar strip, Belgrave Street, looks like it’s been lifted straight from one of the more tourist-friendly parts of Kingston. It’s all hand-painted signs, pink flamingos and colourful benches and the drinks list is exactly what you want it to be – Red Stripe, Kingston Town Golden Lager and alcoholic (but toothache sweet) Royal Jamaican Ginger Beer, plus some juicy rum cocktails.
So lazy you've ruled out a pub session and a movie because of the distance between the two destinations? 4 Pines is your venue. The craft beer-focussed drinkery above Manly Cinemas is also your venue if you just want decent suds, good pub grub, and to chill out free from either aggression or stuffiness. Décor is uncluttered and minimal: banquettes next to windows and tall tables and accompanying tall stools in the middle of the room. A microbrewery vat behind glass and notes on fermentation decorate the back of the room.
This is the sort of place you wouldn’t feel weird drinking in during the day. In fact, Hemingway’s, the tiny Manly small bar offering the northern beaches a double dose of fun drinks and a whole lot of literature also offers breakfast. Grab some toasted crumpets and honey or an omelette and prop a lean at the bar. Or come back a little later in the day for a serve of chicken nuggets and some pretzels and claim one of the table settings out front looking straight out to sea – perfect for a little naval gazing.
If San Fransokyo, the setting of Pixar’s Big Hero 6, were a real place we’d be the first to move there. What’s not to love about a city that melds the best of the East Coast with Japan’s greatest metropolis? While we’re waiting a few millennia for globalisation to make this beautiful dream possible, when we’re hanging for some pan-Asian/surf town fusion, we head to Manly’s Daniel San.
So finding out what ‘Papi Chulo’ means exactly takes us down a bit of a click spiral. Urban Dictionary, among a few lewd things we probably shouldn’t print, says, “the one that lays down (sic) tha law and showers you with gifts”. Most sites agree it’s a term that roughly means ‘stud’. One site calls it slang for ‘handsome daddy’. Whatever it means, it’s packed. We’re talking every table and every seat at the bar. Wall-to-wall Manly locals are crammed in. While its main drawcard is food, you can also snag a good spritzer or stirred down coktail here, too.
It’s not hard to see why the Manly Wharf Hotel is obscenely popular. There’s just something about drinking with harbour views that makes everything seem a little brighter. This expansive hotel is set right down on the ferry wharf and takes full advantage of its location. Glass windows look out onto the big blue and when the weather permits they open up a satellite bar out on the wharf itself so you can get the sea breeze in your lungs while you put lager in your belly.
Last time we checked in at the Steyne they were proudly unveiling a shiny new pirate-themed rum and cider bar up on the top floor, with spectacular views out over the breakers from the balcony and a stage at one end for live bands. They’d also given the bistro a spit and polish to use the hotel’s enviable location looking out onto Manly Beach to maximum effect. Another year, another round of renovations and Steyne now has a cocktail bar called Blackett’s, decked out in rough timber and low lamp-light for that frontier-town-saloon feel.
This is primarily a wine bar, but there’s not much in the way of wine snobbery to be found here. They have more than a hundred bottles on the wine list, organised into helpful categories that suggest more about how the wine will actually taste than anything resembling a technical classification. The majority of the list is available by the glass and whether you choose a ‘big, bold red’ or a ‘fresh white’, you can expect to pay between $7 and $13.50.
Having recently been refurbished, the new-New Brighton Hotel is a fresh-faced and shiny as a debutante. But this four-storey pub on the Corso is well-versed in the Manly boozing scene. That means there's a craft beer and cocktail bar on level one, a nightclub on level two that is open late and a rooftop garden bar with views to Shelley Beach.
A soft orange glow fills the cocktail lounge and the restful orange-brown-red theme continues through beaded curtains, lampshades and elsewhere. Mosey on down to In Situ any night of the week and you're pretty much assured a local artist (usually reggae/hip-hop/funk) and a fun happy hour.
Get there in style
The jewel in Sydney’s crown is its harbour – always has been, always will be. This love affair with the crushed sapphire liquid expanse of the Harbour dates back many, many thousands of years to when the Gadigal people of central Sydney paddled their canoes around the bays, into the coves and across the open seas in search of fish or en route to ceremonial sites or neighbouring settlements. Today, those journeys of discovery are provided by Sydney Ferries when you clamber aboard one of the picture-postcard green-and-yellow ferries that still scoot across the harbour as they have for the past century-and-a-half.