A back bar with so many whiskeys it requires a ladder, bearded bartenders that look like they belong in another century, bowls of pretzels on every table… you’ve just stumbled into one of Sydney’s best kept secrets. This (literally) underground bar can be found down an alleyway off Clarence St. Don’t let the line deter you; there will always be one and it’s always worth the wait. And once inside, you’re never more than a few minutes away from a Whiskey Sour.
One of the newest bars on the scene that's getting a lot of attention is Dead Ringer.
In 2016 it hosted a In-and-Out Burger pop-up and ever since it's been going big guns. That's not just because Dead Ringer has contacts, although it does. It was brought to us by the guys behind Bulletin Place (see below) and offers high quality eats in a casual setting. Don't expect a dingy bar when you arrive, it's all glam here. With a few little quirks.
Shady is the name of the game at Shady Pines. It was one of the first hidden bars in Sydney and remains one of the best despite its lack of social media activity.
That's right. It has no Facebook, no promotion, no signage and no guest lists. It does have a website but it reveals little to nothing about the venture aside from its address and opening hours. Intrigued? You should be.
Dead Ringer may have hosted the In-and-Out Burger pop-up, but Harpoon Harry made it a local affair, hosting a Huxtaburger pop-up in 2015 with much success.
Attached to Hotel Harry this bar has since come of age, drawing in a youthful crowd to dine on its high quality eats (brought to us by master Culinary Curator Morgan McGlone) and dance the weekends away.
Hidden in Sydney is a rooftop with comfy couches, graffitied walls and a steady stream of rock anthems. That place is the outdoor area of The Rook, one of Sydney's best little-known bars.
Head down a non-descript corridor, punch in "rooftop" in the elevator and emerge a little baffled and a whole lot intrigued. Inside is a bar and dining area (burgers and lobsters are the name of the game here) but outside is where you'll lose hours working your way through the cleverly named cocktail list.
Address: Rooftop at 56-58 York St
Open: Wednesday-Friday (lunch), Weeknights from 4pm, Saturdays from 6pm (dinner)
Every review of Frankie's mentions that it's from the guys behind Shady Pines and The Baxter Inn, which should be enough of a reason to pay it a visit. It's a grungy ode to Midwest America, complete with pinball machines (for 20c a play) and slices of pizza with cheese oozing onto paper plates.
Raising the bar is its capacity as a live music venue, plenty of craft beers and a sleazy vibe that works as an antidote to every sleek and polished city bar. Another favourite place to get your whiskey-and-fresh-apple-juice fix.
Don't let the name fool you. Come Thursday and Friday nights, this hole-in-the-wall cafe (have you tried their $1 espresso?) leaves its doors open a little longer, providing a mix of Australian and Italian wines to please thirsty city types.
If you're a fan of Espresso Martinis, this is the place to get it; they know a thing or two about good coffee.
Address: Shop 1, 56-58 York St
Open: Monday to Wednesday 7am - 4pm, Thursday to Friday 7am - late
It's the place to chill, hang out, knock a couple of cold ones back and be awestruck by the beautiful presented cocktails available.
Winner of the Time Out Bar Awards 2016 New Bar of the Year, TMBTP spices up the Sydney bar scene with its sincere and professional approach. It doesn't scream hipster or hidden bar. With a minimal food and drinks list and inviting frontage, trendsetting snobbery is nowhere to be found here.
Every morning the boys at Bulletin Place pick up several kilos of fruit at the markets and every evening turn them into sought-after cocktails that change on a daily basis and will leave your dignity intact even when you order a daiquiri.
The décor is as bare as they come - stools, butcher's paper, industrial tables; but in spite of, or perhaps because of this, this place is winning awards and loyal customers alike.
Address: 1st floor, 10-14 Bulletin Place
Opening Times: Monday to Wednesday 4pm - 12am, Thursday to Friday 4pm - 1am, Saturday 5pm - 1am
These guys might just be serving more cocktails than anyone else in Sydney. The extensive list is a smorgasbord of entertaining names - Beetlejuice and Grandma's Addiction rate a mention - combining lashings of spirits with fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients that might confuse you into thinking you won't have a hangover in the morning.
If you stay for more than one (strongly advised), this won't be the case, but it'll be worth it.
Address: 61 York St
Opening Times: Monday to Tuesday 4pm - 12am, Wednesday to Saturday 4pm - 2am
Brought to you by the boys who worked the bar at Frankies comes Ramblin' Rascal Tavern. In true small-bar style, there's is a cocktail of fresh apple juice inspired drinks as well as some "shit tinnies"- for that time in the evening when anything will do for the handful of coins you've collected over the course of your booze-filled evening.
The best bit? There are more seats in the venue than the licensed capacity, so you're more than guaranteed to find a seat with your name on it.
With a bespoke menu that demands you should "try before you die", this hidden tiki bar will put a spell on you from the moment you enter its warm voodoo sanctum.
Don't be afraid to follow the laneway behind 348 Kent St because you'll be pleasantly surprised at the warmth emanating from this nook of a bar. Its cocktails are not one to shake a fist at either. Let the good times roll.
If the suave suits in the whiskey room aren't enough to tempt you into this speakeasy, then maybe the flapper girls serving you cocktails will.
Palmer & Co goes all out with 1920s flair with low-slung tables, exposed brick walls and scattered top hats, while the bartenders perform with a level of expertise high enough to make you rethink scoffing at the term 'mixologist'.
Address: Abercrombie Lane
Opening Times: Monday to Wednesday 5pm - late, Thursday to Friday 3pm - late, Saturday to Sunday 5pm - late.
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