Our Eat Drink Play Contributor’s Reveal Their Favourite Sydney Bar
What makes a good bar? Is it the cocktails, the experience, the food, the cute bartenders…or is it that feeling you get when you walk in and feel at home. Here at Eat Drink Play, it’s not just our job, but our life mantra to eat, drink and play our way all around Sydney and we’ve had a ball doing it these past seven years. But now it’s time to take it back to where we all began. We asked our contributors one simple question: What’s your favourite Sydney bar?
Ms Darlinghurst’s Favourite Sydney Bar: Shady Pines Saloon
One of my all time favourite bars in Sydney is Shady Pines Saloon. I lose track of time and place every time I take the journey down the stairs into this dimly lit bar. It transports you out of Sydney and into the wild west, a cowboy saloon bar filled with taxidermy, and toe tapping rockabilly music. They’ve got a nice selection of rum and whiskey but I almost always order their signature whiskey and apple juice. I sit on these all night, picking away at the complimentary peanuts, creating a massive mess of shells at bar. The staff are always friendly and fun and generally the vibe is relaxed with plenty of good energy. It’s also a place I like taking out-of-towners as there’s nothing quite like it in Sydney. Yee-Ha! Honorable mentions to go Wine Library at the top of Oxford St, my go-to for great wine, good snacks and cosy one-on-one catch ups and Hotel Palisade in Millers Point- it’s got stunning views, great cocktails and is also perfect for showing off Sydney to out-of-town friends.
Shady Pines Saloon
4/256 Crown St, Darlinghurst
Mon – Sun: 4pm – 12am
Anita‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: The Unicorn
Okay so not exactly a bar, but Paddo pub The Unicorn is, in my opinion, Sydney’s top watering hole. The brainchild of hops and nosh mates Oscar McMahon of Young Henry’s, Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joe Valore of Porteño, and Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham of Mary’s, the venue reflects a nostalgic, labour of love. So much thought has gone into the feel of the place. From the deep sea-green tiled bar, to the corrugated iron-clad beer garden, to the large mural of Australia on the wall (there’s a spelling error, see if you can spot it). What’s more, the service is great, the music is always spot on, and there are no pokies. It really is the quintessential Aussie pub. The menu at The Unicorn is also filled with hearty and wholesome fare. You can of course order the Mary’s burger washed down with a craft beer, but for a truly Aussie feed, try the fancy steak followed by the pavlova with banana custard. Ambrosial!
106 Oxford St, Paddington
Mon-Sat: 11am – 3am, Sun: 11am-12am
Anne‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: Earls Juke Joint
If there was ever a bar to hang one of those ‘when you’re here, you’re home’ signs above their door, it’s Earls Juke Joint. All the praise this bar receives is well earned by master mixologists (who double as drinking buddies) and an excellent choice in music. Whether you jam to Wu-Tang Clan, Chubby Checker or Destiny’s Child, there’s no judgment here. Earls doubles as both my ‘drop in’ bar on the way home from work, or my feel-good Saturday night drinking den.Owner Pasan Wijesena has done a fine job in creating a cult status for this saloon style bar, making it a beloved fixture of the inner-west. Earls serves some damn good whiskey and a mean cocktail, but it’s their freshly squeezed juice concoctions that have me ordering another round. My advice for a visit to Earls Juke Joint is to come early, grab a seat at the bar and nosh on some bar nuts until closing time.
Earls Juke Joint
407 King St, Newtown
Mon – Sat: 4pm – 12pm, Sun: 4pm – 10pm
Athina‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: Assembly
Assembly Bar is in the last place you’d look: a food court but it’s another gem in Sydney’s glistening bar scene. A number of their drinks have won awards so you know you’re going to be sipping on some top notch booze. The pizzas are made from 48-hour rested dough so ditch that carb-free diet and have a whole one to yourself. 😉
488 Kent St, Sydney
Mon- Fri: 12pm-12am, Sat: 5pm-12am, Sun closed
Ben’s Favourite Sydney Bar: Arcadia Liquors
As one of the great orators of our time, Dennis Denuto once claimed “it’s the vibe”. And it’s hard to think of a more apt description than that for Redfern’s finest bar- Arcadia Liquors. Low lighting, exposed bricks, eclectic music and not a pretentious wanker in sight. Sidle in for a frosty brew or a delicate cocktail from the community minded bar staff. And if you’re hungry, Arcadia Liquor creates some tasty toasties and welcomes deliveries from nearby restaurants. Perfect for a cold winter night.
7 Cope Street, Redfern
Mon-Fri: 4pm-12am, closed Sat-Sun
Emilie‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: The Commons Local Eating House & Downtown Bar
Is it the quiet melancholy that excludes from this place, even in the busiest of times? Is it the excellent table service as the knowledgeable staff who help you find your perfect drink (mine’s the gin martini.) Is it their array of fresh and foraged food, like that divine three cheese platter, paired beautifully with a good glass of vino? Or is it the cool, jazz underground vibes from Downtown, where every so often you may find a cellist playing his heart out in the corner. Whatever it is, this is definitely my favourite bar in Sydney – a groovy, little place to spend a good night out.
The Commons Local Eating House & Downtown Bar
32 Burton St, Darlinghurst
Mon: closed, Tues-Wed:6pm-12am, Thurs:12pm-12am, Fri:12pm-1am, Sat:8:30am-1am, Sun: 8:30am-11pm
Georgia‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: Maybe Frank
Many years ago, the nickname Frank was bestowed on me for my Old School-style love of liquor and the “interesting” person that I became after drinking copious amounts of it. Much time has passed and growing-up has supposedly taken place, but the name has stuck. So I’m delighted there’s a bar in my hood that may – or may not – be named after me, but definitely does share my love of a tipple in a much more sophisticated fashion. Maybe Frank is the place to share a pizza and a bottle of rosé with your bestie and settle in for a solid catch-up. Some cocktails may follow… and pasta… and the laughter and volume around you may increase as others do the same, but Maybe Frank promises consistency and comfort as your neighbourhood local – not the craziness of an infamous US house party.
417-421 Bourke St, Sydney
Mon: closed, Tues-Sat: 5:30pm-11pm, Sun: 4pm-10pm
Lauren‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: The Beresford Hotel
Liv‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: The Barber Shop
Behind a barber shop that runs six days a week is a funky cocktail bar. Men can get their hair done, then go and enjoy a relaxed drink. Ladies can skip straight ahead to the cocktails. Gin is the specialty at The Barber Shop on York Street. My favourite cocktail is the apple, celery and ginger fizz (I have a weakness for apple drinks). Other popular cocktails include the Official Old Fashioned and Golden Age #3. The drinks wall is filled with almost 100 different varieties of gin, so even the biggest gin lover won’t get bored. Serving a small eats section of mostly sharing boards, it is the perfect spot for a few drinks and nibbles after a long day, or a relaxed night out.
The Barber Shop
89 York St, Sydney
Mon-Fri: 8am-8pm, Sat: 8am-4pm, Sun: closed
Sanjana‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: Bulletin Place
Siobhan‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: Corridor
Corridor is an aptly named small bar nestled amongst the bustle of King Street in Newtown. It’s narrow wooden interior is perfect for an intimate date, and the back terrace is great for bigger groups. Go any day between 5-7pm for $10 cocktails and make sure you order a round of ‘East Eight Holdups’ a classic(ish) cocktail with vodka mixed with summery fruit, Aperol and lime.
153a, King St, Newtown
Mon-Fri 3pm-12am / Sat 3pm-12am / Sun 3pm-10pm
Zoe‘s Favourite Sydney Bar: Cafe Lounge
This vintage mash-up small bar has everything you could ask for from your day-dream genie. Quirky paraphernalia, artwork, tiny dinosaurs, palm trees at sunset, velvet couches and shimmering party treasures will quickly seduce that friend of yours that is hard enough to get out on a Saturday, let alone a Monday. It’s like entering the bohemian house of a wild artist friend who lives to entertain and loves different coloured lamp shades. A firing hot comedy night, crunchy thin crust pizza and a fab selection of cocktails and beer, it’s no wonder why this place remains in my top ten guaranteed good times.
277 Goulburn St, Surry Hills
Mon-Thurs:5pm-12am, Fri-Sat: 4pm-12am, Sun: 4pm-10pm