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Making cocktails at Earl's Juke Joint
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best bars in Sydney

Our definitive pick of Sydney’s best bars, where good drinking and good times reign supreme

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February 2023 update: It's the last month of summer, and our town is awash with great places to grab a drink and, for that, we will be forever grateful. It's hard to narrow it down, but we've done the hard drinking work – research – to serve you up this list of the very best bars in Sydney right now. 


We’ve whittled this list down to focus on what really matters most to us in a bar – what it is, why we love it and whatever hot tips we think will make your visit even better. The bottom line, however, is still the same: if it's on this list, we think it's a winner – and we hope that you do, too.

This list represents our picks for the best bars in Sydney right now, from fresh faces to tried-and-tested temples of great booze, ranked by our local editors. We’re looking for quality above all, with fun, flavour, atmosphere, creativity, and options at every price point. 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 bars in Sydney

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Darlinghurst

What is it? A wine shop/bar/restaurant in a poky two-level space on the Darlinghurst end of Oxford Street. Downstairs is what's been described as a "tight, messy, chaotic wine bar like you’d find in Paris, or Italy". Upstairs is for dining on simple Italian food. 

Why we love it: Whether it be for a drink and a snack in the bar downstairs, or a more structured dinner service reserved for the second storey, everything at Paski is about quality: quality wine from quality winemakers and exceptional ingredients pulled together to pack real punch. That's why it won Bar of the Year in Time Out's Food & Drink Awards 2022.

Time Out tip: You must try part-owner and chef Enrico Tomelleri’s pappalá – a crimson spread made of milk-soaked cod, bread and tomato. It's addictive.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • The Rocks
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? In the words of the dashing team sporting double-breasted pink jackets behind the bar: a “hotel bar without the hotel”. 

Why we love it: It’s a top-to-tail throwback to the roaring ’50s, from the swanky surrounds and Sammy Davis Jr tunes to theatrical touches like a Martini trolley and a ‘High Rollers’ cocktail list, all brought to life with razzle-dazzle showmanship. The international accolades just keep piling up, plus it won the title of Favourite Bar in the Time Out Food & Drink Awards 2022: People's Choice.

Time Out tip: The $11 Mini cocktails are the perfect primer while you pore over the rest of the list – and they’re half price between 4.30-5.30pm every day.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney

What is it? The gilded penthouse cocktail lounge of the A by Adina Hotel, brought to you by the team behind Maybe Sammy.

Why do we love it? If Maybe Sammy is an ode to the Rat Pack's Vegas, then Dean and Nancy on 22 is their tribute to Sinatra's New York. Summoning the spirit of the Big Apple circa 1960, you could very well mistake Sydney’s city blocks for those of Downtown Manhattan (if you don't look too closely). Sure, it may not be quite Madison Avenue, but George Street will still do. It won Best Cocktail Bar in Time Out's Food & Drink Awards 2022.

Time Out tip: Every one of the signature cocktails has a fun game or a quirky gimmick up its sleeve. For our money, the sandalwood smoked rye concoction 23rd & Broadway is exactly the right mix of whimsy and class. 

  • Bars
  • Surry Hills
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A sophisticated new lease on an old reliable watering hole.

Why we love it: Many of us have plenty of great (and blurry) memories of the Wild Rover, the divey old Irish bar of years gone by. But change is the one constant in life, and some changes are certainly for the better. The new and improved Rover has had a beautiful and warm makeover, with rare oysters on rotation, super refreshing cocktails with housemade tinctures, and booth seats as appealing as the limited spots at the bar.

Time Out tip: Try and score the tiny galley-like room secreted beside the bar for some cosy hangs.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Newtown

What is it? A two-level industrial space in the heart of Newtown that focuses on all the joys of fermentation.

Why we love it: Friendly service, delicious food and drinks, and boundary pushing flavours, Odd Culture is the all-dayer that Sydney needs. An all-star ensemble has carefully curated a truly wild list of farmhouse ales, minimal intervention wines, and cocktails utelising rarely seen ingredients. Odd Culture Newtown is a raucous after-work spot, an elegant boozy lunch option and more recently, a great place to grab a breakfast cocktail and a plate of blood sausage topped, of course, with a just-cooked fried egg. What more could you want?

Time Out tip: Grab a window spot and a bottle of wine to watch the world go by.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Part forgotten library, part unsuspecting CBD rooftop and home to some of the city’s choicest cocktails.

Why we love it: Sydneysiders love nothing more than “secret” bars, rooftops, serious cocktails and a side of good chat – and this bar has ’em all in spades. In just a few short years, Old Mate’s has carved out a place for itself at the top of the heap, and it shows no signs of slowing down. 

Time Out tip: It’s open till 2am on Sundays, if you need to fight off a case of the scaries with a drink and a cheesesteak. 

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  • Bars
  • Surry Hills
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? The tried and tested Surry Hills go-to for tequila-powered thrills.

Why we love it: It’s just about the closest thing we’ve got to a honky-tonk down in Mexico. A post-work Paloma or three has been known to turn into a tour of the hundred-plus tequilas behind the bar and fistfuls of free popcorn – but hey, isn’t that why we keep going back? 

Time Out tip: Cocktail prices hit rock bottom between 4-6pm each and every day the doors are open. And you can now soak up an extra round thanks to the newly expanded food offering.

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Surry Hills

What is it? Part wine bar, part Spanish snack spot.

Why we love it: There are few places in Sydney that are dedicated to the art of sipping and snacking the night away. Serving up Spanish snacks, largely out of a tin or a jar, the simply menu lets the wine  and vermouth shine in this former sports and pokies den.

Time Out tip: Grab a bottle of wine to go when you finally stumble out to Cleveland Street.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Potts Point

What is it? A pint-sized piece of history in the heart of Potts Point.

Why we love it: Old is new again at Piccolo Bar. After nearly 70 years as a stuanchly Italian coffee shop, the 20-seater has been taken over by hospitality stalwarts and beautifully preserved. Piccolo is a tightly-packed step back in time serving up an enormous selection of Amari, Italian-style cocktails, and a seriously good LP's hot dog to boot. Warm hospitality, incredible Italian-style drinks and a surprisingly extensive snack list, this slice of history is fully geared for 2022.

Time Out tip: Get in early and stay there late. This place packs out quickly.

  • Bars
  • Newtown
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A staunch Inner West fave that tips its hat to rollicking New Orleans, behind a butcher shop’s facade on south King Street.

Why we love it: There’s hardly a warmer welcome in all of Sydney than the one you’ll get at Earl’s, and there’s hardly a better spot to settle in for solid innings. Whatever your thirst desires – a cracking craft brew, time-honoured cocktail, natural wine, or nip from the heavily stocked back bar – the legends behind the stick always have the answers and the know-how to back ’em up. 

Time Out tip: Avoid peak time on weekends if queuing ain’t your thing.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Sydney’s first (and only) cocktail joint named after the dive bar in a cult Patrick Swayze flick with a ’70s aesthetic inspired by the Golden Age of Porn. 

Why we love it: Yes, the premise is totally ridiculous, but it absolutely works because squeezing into a booth, ordering a Stinger or a White Russian and belting out Boogie Nights-era classics is the definition of a Very Good Time.

Time Out tip: The Discretionary – a tequila-based number with cold-brew coffee, maple and whey – might just be the single best coffee cocktail you’ll ever taste. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? The subterranean shrine to whisky that set a new standard for our city’s drinking culture.

Why we love it: What can be said about Baxter that hasn’t been said already? It burst onto the scene at full pelt, dripping in never-before-seen levels of professionalism, attention to detail and hooch that made you scratch your head and wonder: “How on Earth did they even score this?” It has collected honours and awards the world over in the time since, and it deserves every single one of them. 

Time Out tip: Get in early, wait times can still be a thing. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? What must be Sydney’s tiniest bar, tucked into a repurposed car spot at the end of an unassuming CBD laneway. 

Why we love it: For starters, Cantina OK serves the benchmark Margarita on the market, shaken with a 50/50 blend of tequila and mezcal, shaved ice and orange oil. But more than that, you’ve got to applaud the audacity required to pull this concept off and the energy it takes to pump out an absurd volume of drinks in what’s essentially a broom closet.

Time Out tip: While it’s easy to get carried away with those Margaritas, the mezcal collection merits a deep dive.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Potts Point
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? The Potts Point sequel to game-changing wine bar Love, Tilly Devine, with a more Euro-centric look and feel. 

Why we love it: People watching on a pleasant evening doesn’t get much better than a perch overlooking Llankelly Place, with a chalice (read: magnum) of natty wine. It’s dangerous just how quickly one bottle can turn into two or three here, thanks in large part to the savvy staff who know the superb wine list through and through. 

Time Out tip: Simon Drolz-Cox (ex-10 William Street) is now on the pans, so you’ll leave very happy if you arrive hungry.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Newtown

What is it? A trippy intergelactic journey through the world of the Martini.

Why we love it: It takes a lot of confidence to lean into a space-themed bar but that's precicely what's going on here at Bar Planet. From the industry legends that brough us Sydney institutions Tio’s, Cantina OK and the Cliff Dive comes the next great nocturnal adventure: a psychedelic Inner West dive-bar re-imagining the world's most divisive cocktail, the Martini. What makes this Martini so special, however, is the eternal spirit made just for the bar, with constant top-ups and redistillations to keep things interesting. A short and sharp list of Italian Sgroppino is a refreshing change of pace when, and if, you need a break from the Martinis which are poured from a height into your awaiting glass.

Time Out tip: Pay close attention to the olive brine gel inside your cocktail garnish, it's a fun surprise.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Enmore
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A raucous and fully realised Tiki bar on Enmore Road that playfully nods to Twin Peaks, of all things.

Why we love it: While the Tiki trope often verges on the downright silly, it’s a bona fide chapter of the cocktail canon and the pros here honour it with respect and enthusiasm. If you’re searching for Sydney’s meanest Mai Tai, look no further.

Time Out tip: Party mode is in full swing on Friday and Saturday, but it’s a surprisingly civilised spot for a sneaky school-night tipple.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Newtown

What is it? A sake and vinyl bar embracing minimalism and great bar snacks.

Why we love it: Inside, there’s a low, L-shaped blackbutt timber bar to the left and small high-top tables along the wall to the right. Bar stools are not always the most forgiving for long-haul dining or sensitive behinds, but here, they are wide and comfortable. Good news, in other words, for when “just a quick drink and a snack” accidentally becomes many gin and shiso cocktails and multiple servings of kare pan. And that’s a highly likely scenario at Ante. It should be noted that bookings aren’t taken, so we recommend making the most of getting a seat.

Time Out tip: Get a crash-course education in sake and ask a million questions. You won't find a cooler sake bar in Sydney.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Manly
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Arguably the most elaborately hidden bar around, on the other side of a 1920s deli fridge door, down a spiral staircase just off the Corso in Manly.

Why we love it: Sandstone, marble, flickering candles, fluted glass, scalloped banquettes, turn-of-the-century copper beer taps – no expense has been spared here. And there’s just as much detail in the drinks, which pay homage to Sydney’s history and wild ingredients that grow nearby.

Time Out tip: Two-hour cocktail classes let you enjoy exclusive use of the venue with a group of six or more, for $65 per head.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Circular Quay

What is it? Godfather inspired basement bar in one of the most historic spots in town.

Why we love it: Going to Apollonia is a truly transporting experience. Part the curtains and travel to an old-world Italian-style subterranean bar with plush fit outs and a cocktail list as long as your arm.

Time Out tip: Cosy booth seats line the stage area and make for prime smooching real estate.

 

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Surry Hills

What is it? An unassuming Scandinavian inspired wine bar in Surry Hills.

Why we love it: This isn't the stuffy kind of hushed-tones wine bar you might be thinking of. Bar Suze brings the fun element in spades, with tasty bar snacks, a killer natty wine list and a discoball for good measure.

Time Out tip: Park yourself at the bar and have a chat, you won't find nicer folks anywhere.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • The Rocks

What is it? An all Aussie gin distillery.

Why we love it: The Rocks district is having a serious moment and Hickson House is one of the jewels in that crown. A converted heritage listed warehouse has been decked out with ultra plush finishings and an all purpose bar.

Time Out tip: Check out the hidden second bar at the top of the industrial stairs for a more intimate setting.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A CBD bunker loaded with Cognac, “shit tins” and some of the friendliest faces in the biz. 

Why we love it: There are plenty of underground bars hiding under office buildings in the 2000 postcode, but none quite like the Tav, which lives up to its name thanks to the urge it stirs to make a little mischief. It’s a real-deal boozer dressed in dive-bar clothing, and when five o’clock rolls around, it’s exactly where you want to be.  

Time Out tip: The complimentary corn nuts are addictive, but Mary’s burgers are on offer from upstairs should you need something more.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A cocktail bar/soda factory, where the inventiveness never fails to nail it. 

Why we love it: Ever tried a Breakfast Negroni infused with actual banana bread? A whimsical take on Irish coffee that toys with different temperatures? Or a Rye Whisky Sour spiked with sage and sweet potato? You taste something unthinkable each and every time you visit PS40, and regardless of how crazy your drink sounds, it always works. 

Time Out tip: Book a seat for the recently launched Takeover Tuesdays, when big-name local chefs plate up set menus with cocktails to match.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Marrickville
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? Marrickville’s very first dedicated wine bar – and our 2020 Time Out Bar Award winner for Best Wine Bar. 

Why we love it: Some wine bars are hoity-toity stomping grounds for snobs and wannabes, but not Where’s Nick. It’s the come-one-come-all spirit and neighbourhood sensibility, coupled with a cleverly curated list of affordable, conversation-starting drops and knowledgeable staff that make it such a standout.

Time Out tip: Grab a few bottles from the bar’s website if your personal cellar needs a top-up. Delivery is free for orders over $85.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Eveleigh

What is it? A carbon-neutral social enterprise serving up zero waste drinks by some of the best.

Why we love it: Ethical consumption can sometimes place style over substance. However, the expert team at Re talk the talk, then walk the walk. By taking offcuts that would otherwise go into landfill from other Sydney businesses, Re produces world-class drinks in gorgeous surrounds.

Time Out tip: Score a bar seat and watch in awe as a tiny hibachi grill pumps out food for the entire space.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Where to head if what you’re after is a little bit of Old Havana and a whole lot of rum. 

Why we love it: Quite a few top-shelf watering holes now compete for your attention on Clarence Street, but Lobo’s staying power is a testament to its consistency. No matter the hour, the mood is always right the moment you descend the winding staircase, lean into a Chesterfield and leaf through the 250-odd rums.  

Time Out tip: Try their signature creation, the Old Grogram, which is made with house-spiced rum, stout vermouth and cinnamon that’s torched before your eyes.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Newtown

What is it? A newish saloon-style dive across from the Enmore Theatre, captained by two loveable industry veterans.

Why we love it: Co-owners Jason Crawley and Dylan Howarth sweat the small stuff: swivelly vinyl stools, frosty beer mugs, carefully concocted cocktails, witty banter and a sing-along swamp rock soundtrack to match. It’s the sort of hangout bartenders love, and it feels right at home in the Inner West.

Time Out tip: It’s an obvious choice for a pre-or-post-gig pint, but you can also score a good old-fashioned hot dog if you’re hungry.

Jangling Jack's
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Potts Point
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Cut-above cocktails in a moody, dark and narrow sliver of Potts Point.

Why we love it: Here’s that rare neighbourhood haunt that’s worth crossing town for. The staff know the specs to just about every mixed drink in the book, and the spiffy yet comfortable setting makes you want to stay awhile. It’s an optimal way to wet the whistle before or after dinner at the multitude of nearby restaurants.

Time Out tip: The food is far better than it needs to be (especially the burger), so drinks may well turn into dinner.

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Surry Hills

What is it? Sydney's only dedicated rum distillery.

Why we love it: Sure, Brix is a gorgeous setting for singing a rum or two but there is something even more satisfying when you can watch the team at work right before your eyes, making the very tipple you're throwing back.

Time Out tip: Treat yourself to one of the masterclasses the team host every month.

  • Bars
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A Sydney institution, aka ground zero for whisky and fresh apple juice, taxidermy, shelled peanuts and endless Country Western hits.

Why we love it: Shady upped the ante in a big way when the lights switched on for the first time just over a decade (!) ago, giving rise to some of the country’s top talent and putting Sydney on the map as a drinking destination. Its appeal and importance have not waned. 

Time Out tip: The so-called ‘World’s Greatest Happy Hour’ takes place daily (!!) from 4-6pm, spruiking $4.50 tinnies, wines and spirits, as well as $10 Negronis and Margaritas.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • The Rocks
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? First on the list for a bar crawl in the Rocks, where your whisky’s steeped in history. 

Why we love it: No other establishment on this round-up backs up its enormous whisky stockpile with a backdrop like this – a labyrinth of crannies and courtyards sited below a heritage-listed sandstone beauty. The Rocks might be known for overpriced beers and faux First Fleet atmospherics, but this baby’s built with the discerning drinker in mind. 

Time Out tip: Whisky flights take you to the Highlands, Lowlands and everywhere in between, even as far as India and Taiwan.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Millers Point

What is it? A two level Irish influenced cocktail bar in the Rocks.

Why we love it: Who doesn't love a heritage building in one of Sydney's oldest suburbs? The drinks here are as delicious as they are dangerous and on a bright day the ocean breeze makes this a top spot to catch up with your pals.

Time Out tip: Get in early to score the private drinking booth, styled after a library.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Surry Hills

What is it? The cocktail-bar component of Four Pillars’ new Surry Hills flagship ‘laboratory’.

Why we love it: Contagious excitement was palpable the minute Victorian gin giant Four Pillars announced it was opening a microdistillery and bar up north – and the end result does not disappoint. The schmick industrial aesthetic is just as sharp as the well-thought-out cocktails that push the envelope, like a Southside with beeswax and peppermint gum or a spruced-up Bee’s Knees with apricot and eucalypt.

Time Out tip: For the full-blown experience, reserve a spot for a masterclass and exit through the gift shop.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Haymarket

What is it? The small bar Chinatown deserves, backed by a bankruptcy-inducing whisky collection and bang-on snacks.

Why we love it: Getting your hands on something decent to drink around Haymarket is no longer impossible thanks to Bancho. The catalogue of Japanese whisky, as well as rare and independent bottlings, is hard to ignore, but a Shochu Highball topped up with Calpis and a couple of soft-shell crab bao will also cure whatever ails you. 

Time Out tip: Cough up $200 and you can store your very own bottle of whisky in one of the 38 purpose-built lockers.

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  • Bars
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Now more than a decade old, it’s the little laneway bar that made a big impact in our wine bar landscape.

Why we love it: Tilly injected the doldrums of Darlinghurst with a bit of Melbourne's soul and showed us just how good we have it in our own backyard by shining a spotlight on Australia’s avant-garde lo-fi wine producers. It still does its things better than most, and you still can’t beat that coveted window seat for the ultimate date night.

Time Out tip: Be sure to include the parmesan toast with housemade ‘Japanese vegemite’ in your order.

  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? One of the Harbour City’s most acclaimed wine bars, freshly relocated to the heart of the (mostly wine-bar-free) CBD. 

Why we love it: Monopole 2.0 is lighter and brighter than its Potts Point predecessor and more user-friendly, too, thanks to an approachable bistro-style menu. Thankfully, the spectacular wine selection, seasoned hospitality and first-rate work in the kitchen have not been lost in transit. 

Time Out tip: Take an early mark – happy hour (Wed-Fri, 4-5.30pm) means $2.50 oysters, $20 carafes of house wine and baller Champagne for $88 a bottle. 

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  • Bars
  • Redfern
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? More than just a Redfern local, it’s a full-fledged community hub that’s all about inclusivity and flying that free-spirited flag.

Why we love it: Stereogamous spinning tunes, kooky decor, drag shows and that permanently parked van in the courtyard where you can kiki all night – these are just some of the reasons why the Tit remains an eternal favourite. You never quite know how your night will end up here, and that’s the best part.

Time Out tip: The menu describes the Bloody Mary – or Hail Mary, as it’s known here – as a “religious experience”. It’s not wrong.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? One of the world’s most lionised bar franchises lurking underneath the CBD streets, marked only by the trademark neon ‘Psychic’ signage.

Why we love it: What’s in your glass is always complex, cutting edge and a tad high-brow at EO (hello, Woodford Reserve washed with truffle butter), but life is for living after all. Throw in steak tartare tossed tableside, burlesque dancers on the bar, and you’ve got quite a night on your hands.

Time Out tip: The tarot readings are pricey but legit, and they come with a cocktail. Turns out fortune favours the bold – and the thirsty.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Surry Hills
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? The second project from the team behind Ester, and a far cry from the run-of-the-mill wine bar.

Why we love it: Poly gives us yet another reason to fall in love with Mat Lindsay’s wood-fired cooking and the hazy, skinsy, racy wines that sing along with it. Whether it’s a glass of something Georgian and obscure or a bottle from the new kid on the Adelaide Hills block, what’s pouring is always in tune with the zeitgeist. 

Time Out tip: No visit is complete without at least one serving of the fried potato coated in salted egg yolk and chives.

  • Bars
  • Glebe

What is it? Natural wine meets striking design in a lavishly restored Glebe terrace.

Why we love it: Let’s face it: Glebe Point Road’s been sorely in need of somewhere slightly extra for a little while now, and No. 92 brings it in a big way. Wine lists this sharp are seldom so affordable, especially in such luxuriously appointed confines. Pattern Studio’s dreamy interiors alone make poking in worthwhile. 

Time Out tip: Apero hour happens Wednesday through Saturday, from 3-6pm, pushing $12 cocktails and ten-buck wines by the glass. 

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  • Bars
  • Sydney

What is it? Sydney’s tallest bar, a whopping 83 floors above street level, decked out in swinging ’60s nostalgia.

Why we love it: Even the most jaded among us would be wowed by the 360-degree views from the top of Sydney Tower. And while bars like this usually pander to the tourist trade and rest on the laurels of prime real estate, there’s a measure of polish going on up here that just can’t be denied. 

Time Out tip: There’s a smart casual dress code in place, and a minimum spend of $30 per head applies, so make it a big night out.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Paddington
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? An extension of the farm-to-table philosophy at Fred’s – Merivale’s top-tier farm-to-table fine diner – in bar form. 

Why we love it: Fancy a Scotch Old Fashioned with lemongrass and umeshu? Much like the restaurant upstairs, cocktails here take seasonality seriously and tinker with flavours the way a chef might. And speaking of chefs, Danielle Alvarez oversees the bar food menu, so consider it another way to experience her Midas touch (at a fraction of what it costs on the ground floor).

Time Out tip: The wood-fired flatbread stands toe-to-toe with any proper pizzeria you can think of.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Picture an 18th-century London tavern smack bang in the core of the CBD, and there you have it.

Why we love it: In the depths of winter, there’s no post quite like one in front of the roaring fireplace with a Scotch egg in one hand and a hand-pumped cask ale in the other, with a Sunday roast on the way. And while it might look and feel like a pub, there are cocktail smarts aplenty here, too.

Time Out tip: Those roasts have a tendency to sell out, so booking is highly recommended.

  • Bars
  • Potts Point

What is it? An urbane Potts Point newcomer that plays like a glammed-up Barcelona corner tapas bar.

Why we love it: Some bars just fit right into their surrounding suburb like a leather glove, and Bar Sopra is one of them. The wide-open windows and glossy fit-out will beckon you as you walk past, but free-flowing Manzanilla sherry, Estrella Damm on tap, and righteously creamy jamon croquettes with truffle aioli may well keep you glued to your seat until close.

Time Out tip: You can count the number of seats on fingers and toes, so book or sneak in off-peak.

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  • Bars
  • Rosebery
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? The most awarded distillery Down Under, with a very handsome bar attached. 

Why we love it: Let’s face it – Rosebery is not the first suburb that springs to mind when you’re after a wee dram. Yet, the spirited greeting and the feeling that comes with being surrounded by stacks of whisky casks always remind you that Archie Rose is more than just a pioneering producer, it’s a primo port of call in its own right. 

Time Out tip: Their hotly anticipated single malt whisky was released in 2020 and has already been judged Australia’s Best Whisky at the World Whiskies Awards. Give it a crack.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A not-so-secret but extremely well-hidden underground drinkery, entirely detached from the outside world. 

Why we love it: It’d be easy to rely on the speakeasy gimmickry at play, but this troop of tin shakers has the chops to back it up. You’ll encounter some of the CBD’s more interesting cocktails down here, starring turmeric-infused rum or salted macadamia sherry, say, and garnished with edible apricot-sesame paper. It’s an especially smart pick if you’re eager to impress a first date.

Time Out tip: Looking to host a boozy shindig at home? Get in touch and they’ll design and deliver a tailored spread of eats and drinks.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Parramatta
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? Bells-and-whistles bartending with more than a hint of Old Hollywood glamour, 26 storeys above the hustle and bustle of Parramatta.

Why we love it: This just might be the rooftop bar that trumps them all, boasting 270-degree panoramas that stretch from the Blue Mountains to the Harbour Bridge. The intricate, technique-heavy cocktails and baller Champagne line-up are every bit as memorable.

Time Out tip: Get there on a clear day to capitalise on crystal clear views, and try to snag the swing for two on the terrace for an extra cute couple snapshot.

  • Bars
  • Surry Hills
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? One part whisky specialist, one part Ginza-inspired small bar and one part yakitori-ya in a nondescript Surry Hills lane.

Why we love it: What’s not to love about a bar that embodies the high art of Japanese drinking culture to a T? From the personalised service and the Suntory Toki Highballs zapped with yuzu honey down to the skewers of crisp chicken skin and the offer of a 30-year-old Hibiki poured over hand-chipped ice, Tokyo Bird knows how to stick the landing. 

Time Out tip: Not a whisky drinker? Scope out the impressive assortment of Japanese beers, shochu and umeshu instead.

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  • Potts Point
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A clubby, Art Deco Potts Point player that harkens back to the halcyon days of 1950s New York.

Why we love it: There’s a distinctly adult feel to the Roosevelt, all plush patterned carpet, dark wood, dim lights and plenty of corners where couples canoodle. You could say the same about the revivers like the Dead End, too – a mix of Scotch, Averna, kirsch and house vermouth, which arrives in a smoking glass gun. Bang bang.

Time Out tip: Hire the hidden poker room for an extra-private gathering. They’ll even arrange a croupier if you’re serious about card play.

  • Bars
  • Redfern
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A no-frills Redfern mainstay that epitomises the ideal chilled-out neighbourhood local. 

Why we love it: Arcadia feels like a cosy, worn-in share house – the twinkle of fairy lights, shelves full of bric-a-brac, the omnipresent smell of toasties in the press and a chipper crew that always remembers your name. Whether it’s a glass of red, a Negroni or something crafty on tap, you always drink well here and the inviting charm never fades.

Time Out tip: Tommy’s Margaritas only set you back at a tenner all Sunday long. 

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  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? One of the city’s defining gin mills, where you can cross off a trim, a shave and a textbook Tom Collins in one fell swoop.

Why we love it: Spirit trends may come and go, but Australia’s love for gin is eternal. The ‘compendium’ spans 700-plus labels, so if a juniper-fuelled knees-up is on the cards, this is the address to be reckoned with. 

Time Out tip: These are G&Ts done right, with hefty pours and all the trimmings. Don’t hold back.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Alexandria

What is it? An inner-city rec hall inspired by surf clubs of yore, kitted out in vintage trophies, Hawaiian prints and buzzing neon signage. 

Why we love it: It never hurts to tap into your inner 18-year-old self every now and again. The Surf Club makes that a very real possibility, with a “cocktail” that involves a miniature Smirnoff bottle tipped into a tin of Passiona and the option of a Chiko Roll to go along with it. 

Time Out tip: Trivia takes place on Tuesday nights from 7.30pm, with burgers and a choice of side on special for $15.

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