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Observatory Bar
Photograph: Supplied Observatory Bar

Three hotel bars hitting the mark in Sydney

Hotel bars have long been bastions for bending the elbow in style, and this trio’s well worth checking into

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Around the world, hotel bars remain centres of culture and fine drinking – think NoMad in New York, Dandelyan in London, the Roosevelt in New Orleans or the Park Hyatt in Tokyo. Meanwhile, in Australia, hotel bars are enjoying a renaissance. Hospitality standards have lifted across the board, driven by tourism and the economics of our location on the Pacific Rim. But you don’t need to be a traveller to take advantage of Sydney's top hotel bars. Here are three that are nailing the standards of excellence you've come to expect from our bar scene.

Grain bar
Grain bar
Photograph: Supplied

Grain Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

A sophisticated harbourside hotspot

Class, craftsmanship and character – three words that apply as much to a fine Scotch whisky as they do to Grain Bar, the cocktail bar at the foot of the Four Seasons Hotel. This den-like, timber-bathed beauty is home to one of Australia’s largest whisky collections, boasting more than 240 labels. Here, it’s just as easy to get your hands on a Taiwanese single malt or a nip of something from India’s Amrut Distillery as it a classic Caol Ila 12 year old. Drop by on a Monday evening, where 20 per cent off the whisky list and $30 tasting flights ensure you’ll start the week on the right foot. Head bartender Cedric Mendoza and bar supervisor Adam Lau have created a catalogue of cocktails that speaks to drinkers of all tastes – from a fragrant and fizzy gin-based Fox with a Key humming with orange blossom honey, yuzushu and sparkling sake to the rum-driven depths of a barrel-aged Right Hand finished with chocolate bitters. And while a beer from the extensive range of boutique brews or a glass of plush Barossa Valley grenache is a tempting proposition ahead of a gig at the Opera House, there’s every chance you’ll want to settle in.

Green Ant Martini at Observatory Bar
Green Ant Martini at Observatory Bar
Photograph: Supplied

Observatory Bar, the Langham Sydney

A glamorous, intimate hideaway

Observatory Bar is a sea of plush upholstery, brushed velvet, polished brass and marble, accented by shelves with objets d’art, bar trolleys and a telescope – a playful nod to nearby Observatory Hill. This is a place for an elevated and inventive cocktail experience, where attention to detail and gastronomic flair go hand in hand with the drinking experience. Order the signature Green Ant Martini and see for yourself: saltbush and lemon myrtle inject Adelaide Hills Distillery’s Green Ant Gin with a bush-fragrant freshness that’s enhanced by an eye-catching garnish of lemongrass-scented green ants. It’s a knockout. So, too, are the other creations, flaunting dramatic finishing touches such as paperbark smoke, angel-hair chilli and washed salmon roe. Love a luxe Happy Hour? Monday through Friday, for three hours from 4pm, drink prices plunge to $7 a pop. By no means should that discourage you from living large and splashing your hard-earned on a bottle of vintage Dom Pérignon, rock oysters, bug-tail brioche rolls and a tin of Sterling caviar. You’re here to toast to the good life, after all.

 

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Jackalberry
Jackalberry
Photograph: Supplied

Jackalberry, Hyatt Regency Sydney

A cross-cultural CBD cocktail bar  

Jackalberry’s ambitious menu reads like a globetrotter’s itinerary from the streets of Old Havana to Tokyo’s alleyways, with pit stops in the Americas, Mediterranean layovers and Antipodean detours along the way. This whirlwind tour of worldly flavours might include new discoveries such as Greek Metaxa or Japanese umeshu, or old favourites like spiced rum and London dry gin. Snacks, meanwhile, tread a similar path – think rice paper rolls you’d find in the streets of Hanoi, Argentinian-style beef empanadas or a dried chickpea crisps straight from a bustling Mumbai marketplace. The aesthetic in the all-day venue paints an evocative picture, inspired by the Age of Exploration. Lush greenery lends a botanical feel to a room of illustrated wallpapers, textured with rattan and stone. Old books, seashells and masks add to the sense that you’re somewhere else entirely, as opposed to the fringe of Darling Harbour. Something from the dessert caddy makes a fittingly sweet conclusion to a journey here, but on a balmy Sydney summer night, there’s no better finish than a boozy black cherry and amaretto sour ice pop.

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