After living in Sydney for over four years, I’m often asked where the places to go for a drink are! Not the head banging, dancing all night establishments… no! The kind of bars that are perfect for a date, a friendly catch up or a place to take friends or family visiting on a cool ‘Sydney-esque’ night out.
Here is an overview of Sydney Social 101’s favourite small bars from across Sydney:
This little nugget is nestled in the stunning Kirkton Hotel. It is the ideal venue to take any male friends or family members. With the Great Gatsby era marking its revival, there has never been a time for 1920’s New York cool to make its mark!
The award-winning bar plays host to a varied cocktail menu and a selection of spirits like you’ve never seen before! Leather holstered interiors give it a expensive air, which provides the perfect juxtaposition of the rest of Darlinghurst. It provided a nice bit of escapism from the heart of ‘funky cool’ Darlinghurst.
I always remember a good friend of mine rocking up to my birthday party in 2011 and proclaiming that she had been to the best bar ever that serves the most amazing and unusual cocktails. One that stood out was the cocktail that was served in a treasure chest!
The Roosevelt was recently shortlisted for World’s Best Restaurant Bar for Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. It was the only Non-American venue to make the top 10 list. Last year, quite impressively so, the cocktail list similarly made the top 10 list for the world.
Originally owned by renowned underworld identity Abe Saffron, The Roosevelt Bar & Diner takes its inspiration from the 50’s and 60’s and offer them up with a modern twist. The venue is a sexy little space featuring my personal cocktail shaker collection, a bespoke liquid nitrogen cocktail trolley, custom group dining tables with built in ice wells and much more.
The bar is headed by some of the most admired and renowned bartenders in the country and the kitchen dishes out a modern take on the classic diner. They choose to call it rather interestingly ‘Americana Tapas’.
Grasshopper was opened in April 2010, I love the atmosphere, it really is a quirky space, a hidden gem that provides escape from the hustle and the bustle of the city. It was one of the first Sydney small bars, before Sydney made a conscious effort to catch up with Melbourne on the culture stakes (and as the licensing laws were relaxed!).
The mismatching second hand furniture makes you instantly feel at home! Hidden in a side alleyway neatly sandwiched between the Hilton Hotel and the Strand Arcade, it is a little CBD haven with a great Sydney drinking vibe. (I’m a big fan of hidden/ secret bars)
Located on Crown Street in Surry Hills, The Winery is the perfect location to lunch with your lady friends over a bottle (or two) of the finest Pinot Grigio!
It has great atmospheric lighting and the food is amazing!
A cute Sydney small bar that leaves pretension at the front door! Pop in for a selection of great drink, tasty snacks and fab company!
The sunning artwork on the walls really makes the venue what it is! I always find I’m finding new designs that I’ve never spotted before! Head on down for an after work beverage, you wont be disappointed!!
A fab new small bar located ‘over the bridge’ in Kirribilli! There is much to be gained by venturing away from the CBD and the East 🙂
The Botanist boasts an amazing menu and stunning scenery! The bar staff are just lovely! If you get chance head down on a Thursday night to make the weekend start early!
An inconspicuous doorway underneath a guitar shop on Clarence Street is the surprising entrance to the small bar that is Grandma’s. As you enter and descend down the AstroTurf staircase, lined by bird wallpapered walls you are transported into a bar that could quite easily be located in a laneway in Melbourne, you would never believe that you were a two second stroll from the hustle and bustle of Town Hall Square.
The bar’s owner James Bradey can often be found manning the fort and preparing the vast array of cocktails that are available – the cocktail menu is more like a cocktail book and to read from cover to cover would take you about a week! I can however tell you about the first page, ha! The it is dedicated to the team’s favourites (Clover Club, Negroni and a variety of fruity cocktails, my personal fave). The other the pages after are filled with tiki and rum drinks, the Hemingway I’m told is very popular
Cocktails first, questions later… Their moto, and one of my faves! Located at the top of Victoria Street near the fire station and the infamous Coca Cola sign at Kings Cross, Hinky Dinks is small and unassuming… and has some of the most talented bar tenders in Sydney.
If you like an informal, relaxing atmosphere with great drinks and good chat – Hinky Dinks is your guy!
It would be absolute sacrilege to have a Sydney small bar guide and not include The Baxter Inn. It is a must-see and you must promise me that the queue does not put you off.
Think of every liquor and rum you can ever think of and an electric atmosphere and v cool bar staff – this is your place. I heart it a little bit! Another bar that floats my boat is…
Palmers and Co
Introducing Sydney’s latest Speakeasy bar, and wow does it not disappoint. You can head there to drink into the night, whilst still sampling the best cocktails that Sydney has to offer, along with ascetically pleasing surroundings.
Whether you tipple is rum, whiskey or tequila (ole!), there is bound to be a tipple that will satisfy your palate and more! P.s. don’t mind the suits, you can find quiet corner and laugh and drink the night away!
Ahhh Shady Pines, they pride themselves on being aloof and their bar staff are simply too cool for school – but you know what, I don’t care, it’s freaking awesome! From the old school Western aesthetics and the ahhmaazziinnggg cloudy apple and vodka, you simply cannot got wrong.
Again it is hidden, the only way you can spot it is by a dodgy looking doorman lurking on a side street behind American Apparel on Oxford Street, however once you’re in there you immediately understand why you made the effort! Go try, drink, be merry… you can thank me later 😉
I often read bar reviews from my sister blog London Social 101 about these cool bars that are hidden behind bookcases or picture frames in the wall and I worried that Sydney would take its sweet ass time to catch up… Well I was qickly proved wrong as the Soda Factory opened it’s doors here in Sydney!
Hidden behind a vintage coke machine, you’re transported away from an urban street into a cool underground club! More details can be found here
This bar is located above the infamous Table for 20, it is relaxing, has a great atmosphere and requires a code on the door to get in, sneaky huh! Definitely check this out for a first date venue!
I must say, over the past four and a half years I have seen many small bars pop up and I have a feeling that there are going to be so many more!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to small bars in Sydney, but they are my faves for sure!
Please let me know if there are anymore you’d like me to review/include!