Get us in your inbox


The Caterpillar Club

  • Bars
  • Sydney
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Bartenders making drinks at The Caterpillar Club
    Photograph: Supplied/The Caterpillar Club
  2. Burger at The Caterpillar Club
    Photograph: The Caterpillar Club
  3. The bar are at The Caterpillar Club
    Photograph: Supplied | The Caterpillar Club
  4. The entrance to The Caterpillar Club
    Photograph: Supplied/The Caterpillar Club
  5. The bar area at The Caterpillar Club
    Photograph: Supplied | The Caterpillar Club
  6. The inside of The Caterpillar Club
    Photograph: Supplied/The Caterpillar Club

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

There is no better place in town right now, no finer bar, no cooler spot – wriggle on over and see for yourself

If there’s anyone who can take a former underground gentlemen’s club and turn it into a lava-hot spot right now, it’s Swillhouse. If you’re not familiar with the name, you sure as hell love their venues. Who amongst us hasn't had a romantic rendezvous at Hubert? Knocked back one too many Whisky Apples at The Baxter Inn? Reminisced about sweaty gigs at Frankie’s Pizza? You get the gist.

Unlike most big openings, there was no carefully curated Instagram build-up about The Caterpillar Club, no months-long PR strategy. On a Wednesday in December, the team announced they were open with a walk-through video of the venue. Immediately, they caught us: hook, line and sinker. The excitement felt akin to New Year’s Eve when you’re 16 and about to see your crush, and by night two there was already a line snaking outside. Fast-forward a few months to April, and the caterpillar's tail is growing by the day.

The Caterpillar Club’s entrance is just off Martin Place. Walking in you’ll first see a gigantic black and white piece by artist Allie Webb. Frilly lights hang from above and the walls are painted burgundy. We descend the stairs and open a door to get inside. It’s clear we’ve stepped into something special.

The space is L-shaped and curves around like a caterpillar, anchored by the longest bar I have ever seen. Abstract works by Webb charm from the walls, and dozens more of those frilly lights create a warm glow. Behind the bar are thousands of old-school records. There’s a DJ booth down the end, and a stage for bands, though tonight it’s concealed by a velvet caramel-coloured curtain. Parties of two and four can take a seat in the sumptuous red booths and the wooden tables at the back. Tonight (a Wednesday), there's maybe one or two spare chairs in the 200-seat venue, and everyone looks like they’re having a rollicking good time. And while there are no ocean views in sight, no twinkling city skyline, I think it’s the sexiest bar in Sydney.

The brief for the cocktail list is ’90s classics – fun and fruity. A Mango Martini makes an appearance, as does a Strawberry Daiquiri, and Sex on the Beach. Lovers of stiff tipples can order off the menu, but we lean in. I go for a Piña Colada – served in a tall glass with a swirl of blue curaçao, a yellow umbrella and a slice of pineapple, it’s joyous. The luscious, rum-spiked drink is full of coconut flavour, and gets an edge thanks to a sprinkle of salt. It’s probably not a drink you’d have if you’re in for the long haul, but it's a grown-up icy treat and it takes me back to a swim-up bar, Hamilton Island-style.

Don’t skip the food. The menu has been created by Isobel Whelan-Little, a formidable chef who is also overseeing the pans at sibling restaurant Alberto’s Lounge, and prior to that headed up the kitchen at LP’s Quality Meats. Like the drinks, the food menu is retro-leaning. It spans salty snacks for those on a shoestring, like chips drizzled in beef fat for $14, and goes to those with a baller budget, like caviar and waffles for $175. Sadly, our wallet doesn’t extend to roe tonight, so we kick things off with a crab and avocado cocktail, which look like two lettuce canoes. On-board is sea-sweet spanner crab crowned with pickled daikon, creamy avocado and a drizzle of robust olive oil. It’s crunchy, fresh and salty – and yum.

The staff look the part, wearing bowties and blazers – they're on-point and professional, though possibly a little too serious (I love when waitstaff seem like they’re having fun, too). A tuna melt with its crusts cut off arrives in four triangles facing up, like how your mum made them in primary school. The brioche is crisp and golden, and the tuna and mayo filling is complemented by melted cheese and amped up by slices of pickles, which cut through. A tuna melt may not be the first bar snack you dream of, but I’ll be back for that.

A Spicy Rosita follows. Made up of tequila, bitters, vermouth, raspberry and chilli, it has a similar profile to a Negroni, but with a red-fruit twist, and I like how the chilli isn’t overpowering; it’s more like a subtle sidekick. Poured over a big cube of ice, it gets the ball well and truly rolling for the next act.

Of course we order the cheeseburger. It comes with a sesame seed-topped bun and the cheese oozing from the side. I take a bite and it’s dripping in flavour – this is a multiple-serviette job. The meat is incredibly juicy and pink – a touch too rare for my date – but I’m happy. Slices of pickles and a sharp mustard sauce give it a good kick, and all up it’s a rich and delicious mess. When it’s time to leave, we both don’t want to go, but work isn’t going to do itself tomorrow. The brilliant news is we can come back.

There’s no doubt about it: there is no better place in town right now, no finer bar, no cooler spot. The Caterpillar Club was what Sydney needed, yet it feels like it’s been here all along. Wriggle on over and see for yourself.

Time Out Sydney never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out Sydney newsletter for more news, travel inspo and activity ideas, straight to your inbox. 


These are the best bars in Sydney right now.

Check out our guide to the best bars and pubs in Sydney for live music.

Avril Treasure
Written by
Avril Treasure


92 Pitt St
View Website
Opening hours:
Sun-Thu 5pm-3am; Fri noon-4am, Sat 5pm-4am
You may also like
You may also like