As far as dramatic entrances go, the Cumberland makes quite an impression. The secret is out, sure, but that doesn't make pulling open the original 1920s fridge door at Manly's Cove Deli any less exciting. Behind it is an operation that has spared absolutely no expense, and soaking in all the elements – the painstakingly handcrafted leather banquettes, original turn-of-the-century brass beer taps – is much of the fun. The rest lies in clever concoctions inspired by Australia's history, the quirky toilets and the unexpected exit.
Maybe it's signalled by a glimmer of light under a door. Perhaps a queue in an alley that makes you take pause to wonder what the fuss is all about. Or is it the sound of revelry drifting up a flight of stairs in the distance that lures you in? Whatever it is, there's something about the pursuit of getting to a hidden bar – the build-up of anticipation or the knowledge that a drink is somewhere, out there, waiting for you – that we all just can't help but love. Whether they're up high or down below, some of Sydney's very best bars are not all that easy to find. In fact, you've probably walked straight past a few without even knowing they existed. Here are the ones you'll have to hunt the hardest for.