The best Sydney wine bars
Johnny Fishbone has arrived on the site of defunct cocktail bar Hinky Dinks, and retro charm has given way to contemporary cool. This is a bar that is refined and sexy, but didn’t lose the fun in the refurb. It’s not just the drinks that impress us (but we’ll rave on those shortly). Everything is perfect, from the snack menu that demands an order of ‘one of everything’, to the photoshoot-worthy lighting and house party soundtrack.
You know what a guaranteed fun time used to be? Smashing wines and Italian snacks at 121 BC. You what’s still fun? Smashing a slightly more international wine list and snacks at Wyno, the same-same-but-different wine bar where 121BC used to be. The Porteno crew, whose Argentinean restaurant is on the adjoining street, took over the beloved wine bar and honestly, the only change is that there’s less Italian stuff on the menu.
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. This is a great place to let wine surprise you. Sure, that orange fiano from Cantina Giardino in Campania might smell like peaches, but the skin contact gives it a dry finish that feels like a delightful bait and switch with your tastebuds.
Bibo has all the essential hallmarks of an upmarket Euro-style wine bar: it’s low lit, dark and looks like an old-world smoking room. If you just want a snifter of a millionaire’s life they also do museum wines by the glass so you can drop $48 on a 2005 Two Hands shiraz from McLaren Vale – just to see what it tastes like. Of course you’re not surprised that you can drop your whole paycheck on wine in Double Bay, but you can also sit all night long on $10-$12 glasses here, and use your extra money to spin out the evening with some bar snacks.
We’ve all been there – so hungry that you’ll offer your shoes, your bank balance or even your first born for a little snack and something to drink. And Dear Sainte Eloise gets it. Hell, they’ve named the new Potts Point wine bar for that moment of blood sugar crisis when George Orwell, while Down and Out in Paris and London, prayed to what he thought was a saint for a little supper. Luckily for you and your progeny, all you need is cash, and the makings of a perfect evening will wend their way to your wooden table top over the course of a very enjoyable few hours in this classically styled perch.
At Continental in Newtown a downstairs deli opens at 11am and becomes a casual bar/restaurant as the later hours creep in, while upstairs there's a bistro for those fancier nights out. Come here for an amazing bottle of skin contact white that will have you chanting for a second, accompanied by tinned seafood, charcuterie and cheese enough to make you weep with joy.
10 William Street is both a restaurant and a bar with a penchant for crazy, raw, wild and feral Italian wines. Your sommelier might pour you something like the exciting Cirelli trebbiano from Abbruzzo, or an almost rosé-like pinot grigio.
This slip of a wine bar has become the unofficial meeting place for Potts Point locals in the know. Which, judging from the crowded room on a Wednesday night, is everybody. No wonder though, when you’ve got a crack team running things on the floor and in the glass.
This is the kind of place that can turn your whole understanding of wine upside down by pouring you a Chilean skin-contact muscat that’s as savoury as an antipasto board. Behind the bar is a wall of fridges with small doors so that it resembles a 16-day advent calendar, but instead of shit chocolate you get a whole lot of crazy, interesting, fun and smashable wine.
The wine list here is a tome of good taste, and if your vinous vocabulary is a little rusty there’s no shame in seeking guidance from the bar. In fact, handing over the reins to the likes of Phil Gandevia (ex Eau De Vie and Roosevelt) is the best decision you’ll make today. A fresh, bright chenin blanc from Le Rocher Des Violettes in the Loire Valley might land in front of you, or perhaps you’ll get things started with an approachable pinot noir from Serrat in the Yarra Valley.