Insider guide to drinks in Sydney

By Alice Dore-Jones

I love a list and I also love taking the guess-work out of decision-making.  After living in Sydney for eight years I’ve figured out a thing or two about places that are worth spending your time and quite frankly your money at.  Sydney like any capital city has it’s money pits (stay away from Darling Harbour) and it also has it’s local gems.

So, here is my list of favourite places:
The show stoppers- These places deliver the true Sydney experience:
  • Opera Bar– Yes, it’s tourist central but you can not beat this one. Even as a local I find sitting in the middle of the harbour facing the harbour bridge a breath-taking experience. The drinks aren’t cheap but either is the view. Go for a few and then move on.
  • The Glenmore pub in the Rocks. It’s a stroll around the harbour (everyone likes a walk near the water) and when you get there head to the rooftop- you still get a cracking view of the harbour but its a pub and has a more casual vibe.
  • Watsons Bay Hotel– This is delivers food, drinks and the added bonus of a ferry ride across the harbour to get there. Added bonus is that it’s kid friendly. Jumping on the ferry at  Circular Quay you head over to the Watson Bay terminal and the pub is right there. You can eat a range of fantastic food from pubfare to dining experience style, drink beers, cocktails, etc Sit back and enjoy the water view before checking the ferry timetable to head back.
  • North Bondi Fish– More a restaurant then a drinking spot. A fab afternoon can be found by sitting on the balcony here. Partly for the great people watching and partly because you get to see the waves roll into Australia’s most famous beach. Then, eat amazing seafood and knock back a fab glass of wine. Tip: Head upstairs to the North Bondi RSL afterwards for a cheaper drink if you feel like more.
Places I’d head to on a Friday or Saturday night for a date:
  • Pocket Bar in Surry Hills- Huge cocktail list and usually a table can be grabbed without too much pain.
  • Vasco Bar Surry Hills– Cool rock vibe, great cocktails and Italian food as a bonus.
  • Eau De Vie- Probably the best cocktails in Sydney. If the bartenders here were chefs they would be working for a 3 hatted restaurant. Nothing standard here.
  • Royal Albert hotel– Craft beers and dumplings need I say more.
  • Bondi Hardware– Yummy food and cocktails.
Drinks with a group of friends:
  • Shady Pines Saloon– Free peanuts on the tables, taxidermy on the walls and a fun choice of drinks. This small bar put small bars on the map for Sydney.
  • Sweethearts BBQ- Look past the fact this is in Kings Cross and you have to walk up a huge flight of stairs to get there. This place is fun for a group. Grab a table, pick a cocktail jug and chill out with rooftop views. Oh and they have wine on tab… dangerous!
  • The Local Pub Darlinghurst– A Craft beer mecca. This place has a wine list of beers on tab and there really is something for everyone. A mini rooftop to take in the sun or a cosy room downstairs has your group covered no matter the weather.
  • El Loco Mexican. Mexican food and beers. Always a crowd pleaser and not far from central station. Get here early to take over a table and hang out till close.
  • The Court House Newtown. A fun beer garden and a chilled out crowd. The Courty is always the place to be when the sun is shining.
  • Hotel Harry’s. A refurb has bought new life into this place. A fun Cuban menu with week night deals (EG Thursday $5 taco night) and heaps of drink options. A sure-fire heat in the Sydney scene.
  • The Winery- Surry Hills. This is great for a drink or something to eat. It’s always got a great vibe about it and if you want to be “fancy” there is the champagne room upstairs.
If I’m in the CBD and I want a drink away from the crowds:
  • QT hotel Bar. The bar upstairs is always fun with a good wine list and easy to get to just around the corner from Pitt st Mall.
  • The Rook. You’d think you were heading to an office if you didn’t know better but step out of the lift and you’re in a CBD oasis. A fun menu with lobster a plenty, cocktails and a great sparkling wine list. Fun times ahead.

***In full disclosure this list is very Surry Hills heavy as I tend to spend a lot of time in this area. Pic used is from Sweethearts BBQ Rooftop.

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