Pub of the Year - Courthouse Hotel, Newtown
Best Pub Food - The Unicorn, Paddington
Family-Friendly Award - Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel
Best Beer List - Union Hotel, Newtown
Publican of the Year - Luke Hiscox
Pub Revival Award - The Newport
Good Times Award - Lord Gladstone Hotel, Chippendale
People's Choice - Harts Pub, The Rocks
Legend Award - Botany View Hotel
This was the year Sydney expanded the definition of a pub. In addition to your classic boozer upholding the four pillars of pubdom – beers, footy, steak, trivia – the meaning has grown to include refurbished venues that are seriously raising the bar for what we call a counter meal. Some pubs look more like country clubs, or whisky bars. Some have retained their sturdy permenance – fads be damned. But whatever the trappings, at its essence the recipe for a good pub is a simple one. We want a space where we feel comfortable; where we can drink with our friends, cheer on our teams, quell hunger pangs and be entertained. There is no longer just one kind of pub, and that’s A-OK, because there’s not just one kind of person in Sydney – but they’re all thirsty.
And the winners are...
Pub of the Year: Courthouse Hotel
If the world were about to end, we’d probably do what Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect do right before the Earth’s destruction in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and go to the pub. And we’re not talking just any pub – we’d make tracks to the Courthouse Hotel.
Best Pub Food: The Unicorn
Sydney has seen a spate of pub revivals in the last three years, and while many are vastly improved, they also tend to lose many of the traditional elements of the classic Aussie pub. Not so at the Unicorn, and it pleases us immensely. The tunes are rock, the food is excellent without being fiddly, and the doors are open to anyone who fancies a schooner – collars not necessary.
Best Beer List: The Union Hotel, Newtown
When it comes to full-throated support of craft beers, few do it better than the Union Hotel in Newtown. In 2015, the pub’s 22 taps played host to over 300 different brews. This year they’re planning to simmer down and aim for about 200 to ensure that when you find a favourite you get to taste it again before it leaves the building. On our visit they’ve got beers from Akasha, Modus Operandi, Nail, Hopdog, Rocks, Hart and Hound, Sierra Nevada and Van Dieman in the house, and before you get all “dude, where’s my lager?”, there’s Reschs too.
Good Times Award: The Lord Gladstone
Sydney might be struggling to keep the late-night vibes pumping, but there’s a rebel force of party people and most weekends they are congregating at the Lord Gladstone. The ability to squash so many Sydney scenes inside a modest space is one of this pub’s most impressive attributes. On an unremarkable Saturday night you’ve got Bondi babes, queer indie kids, footy fans, sneaker freakers, hip-hop heads and what appears to be a crew of nonchalant models all cramming into the concrete courtyard for a good time.
Revival Award: The Newport
We always knew that the grand reopening of the Newport Arms was going to be a very big deal. Now it’s looking like several million bucks what with the fresh juice cabana, the paddling pool for little humans, the raw bar dishing up Sydney rock oysters and buckets of prawns and the mesmerising twirl of the chickens, porchetta and a whole salmon in the rotisserie.
Family-Friendly Award: Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel
Location alone makes this an excellent spot to bring the next generation: the pub fronts onto the gentle shores of the harbour on one side and a rolling green park on the other. But it’s the dedicated kids activities, events and on site café serving kid-friendly fare that really marks this venue out as somewhere where your child-toting friends are not just tolerated, but welcomed. Don’t believe us? Last school holidays they hosted cookie making classes, petting zoos and a pirate day, complete with face painting and treasure hunts – these guys are totally cool with the underage set.
Legend Award: Botany View Hotel
We’re not saying that the old ways are always better, mostly because we’re not octogenarians yelling at the kids on our lawn, but there’s no denying that many of the best elements of a local pub were perfected long ago. The non-negotiables are fresh beers in cold clean glasses, tunes, trivia and a solid counter meal.