Can you keep a secret? We reveal Sydney’s best hidden bars.
Is it a butcher shop, Thai takeaway joint, barbershop, record store or seamstress? Oh no, wait, it’s a bar! Hidden behind unassuming, unnamed doors lie some of Sydney’s best hidden bars. Never walk past them again with this list. Here are 30 of the best, how many have you visited?
Hidden in the basement of Hinchcliff House, Apollonia is an underground Sicilian cocktail bar inspired by The Godfather. A history-laden subterranean venue in the heart of Sydney, the bar boasts an extensive spirits list, lots of negronis and other strong, delicious twists on Italian cocktails served by welcoming, energetic bartenders. If you’re hungry, you can’t go past the meatball sub on the menu. Find out more here.
Join the ‘rebirth of cool’ at Maybe Sammy in The Rocks. Styled in the theme of a fifties-era hotel lobby cocktail bar, the Maybe Sammy team offers world-class drinks paired with a flare of theatrics. Take a seat amongst the flamingos, along the bar to witness the action, or spend an evening relaxing on the pink sofas. The bar menu offers a selection of light refreshments, whilst the cocktails are a spectacle of their own. Find out more here.
‘Use the door knock & knock three times’ says the sign. This hidden bar even has a secret way to enter! Burrowed within the heart of Sydney’s CBD, Door Knock’s drinks menu boasts a pun filled cocktail menu and great wines. Order the house cured and cultured board, mac and cheese croquettes and bao buns for a tasty snack. Find out more here.
New York has made its way down under to bring Sydney a much anticipated rendition of Employees Only. The New York bar is listed amongst the World’s 50 Best Bars list. Sydney’s version of Employees Only lives in a classic sandstone building at Martin Place and serves the same world class drinks. While you’re there be sure to check out their signature dish, the hand cut steak tartare. Find out more here.
Old Mate’s Place, CBD
At the top of a few too many flights of stairs, or a trip in a cramped old elevator is Old Mate’s Place. Opening in 2018 this bar has quickly won numerous awards and is a popular spot amongst bartenders. Old Mate’s Place is decked with old book shelves and leather booths. Climb a tad higher and you’ll find yourself on the rooftop, taking in Sydney’s architecture from a unique vantage spot. Find out more here.
Situated in the heart of the CBD, Mojo Record Bar specialises in three things: booze, tunes and rock n’ roll. This small bar lets you browse through the racks of old and new vinyl before making your way to the bar. Take a seat at one of the booths and order a round of tequila cocktails. If you’re feeling peckish order some of their delicious pizza. On Thursday’s and Saturday’s you’ll be treated to live music between 6pm and 10pm. Find out more here.
The Barbershop, CBD
You’ll need to make your way through an actual barber shop to reach this bar. Step through the parlour doors at The Barbershop and immerse yourself in a dimly lit bar that nods to the by-gone days of Europe and Britain. Although the refined bar specialises in gin, The Barbershop has an extensive cocktail list and simple share plate menu for you to enjoy. On your way out grab a clean and shave from the barbers and order an old fashioned to pass the time. Find out more here.
Hit level “R” in the elevator and escape to The Rook rooftop hideaway. Resting above busy York Street, gaze at the glowing Sydney skyline through the retractable roof whilst sipping on a cocktail from the seasonally updated blackboard menu. For lunch or dinner munch away on The Rook’s eclectic fusion of food options that includes gourmet burgers and lobster rolls. Find out more here.
Look for the lone security guard hanging outside an unmarked door. On the weekend a long queue may also be a dead giveaway. Enter Shady Pines Saloon and transport yourself to the wild west. Tucked away behind Oxford Street, this cosy Western themed drinking hole has a long drinks list, but you can’t go past a freshly squeezed apple juice and your favourite spirit for $10. Taking a seat below a moose-head, crack open the peanuts and bathe in the relaxed ambience of this authentic Saloon’s olden-day charm. Find out more here.
Although you have to venture down a onerous back alley and dodgy stairwell to reach it, the Baxter Inn is a great escape from the CBD craziness. The sophisticated bar specialises in whisky. With more than 600 varieties of the liquor lining the wall, the storage room dwelling is reminiscent of a NYC crime boss’ hideaway. Although there is no food, graze on bowls of complimentary pretzels in the bustling 130-person bar. Find out more here.
Leave the dry cleaning at home, looks are deceiving at Stitch Bar. Hiding below a small seamstress shopfront is a bar fitted with wooden barrels and intimate booths. The twisted Prohibition style cocktail list offers fusion takes on well-known favourites. Stitch Bar’s love of dude food is clear, with a American diner inspired menu offering wings, curly fries and of course, dogs and burgers. Find out more here.
Earl’s Juke Joint, Newtown
Just look for the butchers shop on King Street. The promise of “top quality meats” is deceiving, instead expect top quality drinks. A spacious fit out with timber floorboards and posters idolising the blues and roots greats of America’s South, Earl’s Juke Joint is a Newtown institution. Pumping out tunes best suited to the Deep South, take a seat at the long, vintage style bar and order from a list of local brews including Young Henrys and Batch Brewing Co. Find out more here.
Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, CBD
Hidden away in a CBD basement the Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern is a vintage throwback. Retro posters hang in the bathroom and plush leather booths make for an intimate affair. The drinks list is just as versatile. Dressed in overalls, the Ramblin’ Rascal’s bar staff shake and stir freshly juiced cocktail concoctions. Bring out your inner childhood with the Rascal Spider, a brew of Coke and ice cream. Alternatively, try out the “Shit Tinnie” for $6. Find out more here.
Specialising in tiki and rum, Grandma’s Bar is no ordinary visit to Nan’s. The cosy exposed brick basement bar comes to life with the subtle inclusion of grandma’s knick-knacks and gentle candlelight. The witty drinks menu includes a Peanut Butter Colada and Pineapple Express. No visit to grandma’s would be complete without a feed. At Grandma’s Bar you can enjoy a range of affordable jaffles with meat and veg options. Find out more here.
Love, Tilly Devine, Darlinghurst
Tucked between the garages and warehouses of Crown Lane, cosy up at the intimate Love, Tilly Devine. With room for only 40 wine lovers, the Darlinghurst local would surely make its namesake, Sydney’s infamous female 1920s brothel owner, proud. The small tables and simple share style food menu, which includes freshly shucked oysters and a cheese board, make Tilly Devine the ideal escape for date nights or a casual drop. Find out more here.
1920s debauchery is reborn at this underground alley Prohibition era bar. Palmer & Co. transports you back to the days of bootleggers and flappers with its sleek decor and jaffle and charcuterie food menu. The staff dress the part and serve cocktails that constantly change with the seasons. Whilst bathing in the cool ambience of live jazz five nights a week, sip on a glass of bubbles from the list of 26 champagnes. Find out more here.
Set below the lights of Sydney’s CBD, the tastes and sounds of New Orleans come alive at The Swinging Cat. Step into a luxurious cocktail den, where dulcet lamp lighting and vintage couches serve as an ode to an olden day gentlemen’s lounge. Although the suave drinks list is long, the lemony cognac based Sazerac cocktail is the brew of choice for those behind the bar. Find out more here.
The Lobo Plantation, CBD
Push through large wooden doors and travel down a spiralling staircase and you will find yourself in a rum lovers delight at The Lobo Plantation. Flairs of emerald green and floral furniture bring the vibrant Caribbean themed hideout to life. Serving 250 varieties of rum, enjoy a refined cocktail and top it off with a bite from the Latin inspired food menu. Find out more here.
Frankie’s Backbar, CBD
A bar within a bar, head down the fire escape at Frankie’s Pizza and take refuge at the Backbar. Originally the hangout for bands to enjoy a drink post gig, the Backbar has been opened to the public. Surrounded by an overwhelming collection of musical paraphernalia enjoy a casual beverage while tapping away to the rocking jams of days past and present. Find out more here.
Step through a bamboo curtain and enter the luminously lit Uncle Ming’s. With paper lanterns strung from above and a plush red carpet running throughout the bar, Uncle Ming’s is nothing short of a sensory experience. Take a seat at a table for two, or at the red bar, and take your pick from the lavish cocktail list. Enjoy a selection of modern Asian street food, including, of course, dumplings. Find out more here.
You could easily stroll past this unique viking experience at Mjolner. Located in between Surry Hills and Redfern, push through the heavy door and rediscover your love for hard liquor with over 400 different types of whisky. If you are craving more than a drink then Mjolner’s hearty food menu won’t leave you hungry. Find out more here.
Golden Age Cinema & Bar, Surry Hills
Take a seat at the cosy bar before heading in to enjoy a classic movie at the Golden Age Cinema & Bar. The cinematic experience is made all the more opulent by the art deco buildings’ 1940s ambience. Even if the movie on show isn’t for you, the bar menu features a selection of pizzas, small bites and nuts. What’s more, the drinks list is overflowing with classic cocktails and wines and beers by the bottle and glass. Find out more here.
No this is not a Thai restaurant as the shop front may suggest, Jacoby’s is Enmore’s new Tiki bar. Step into a 1950s bar worthy of the Hawaiian coastline. Surrounded by totems and banana leaf wall paper, your choice of drink is made relatively easy by the two page list of cocktails. If you don’t want to go at it alone, larger cocktail jugs and plantain chips are ideal for sharing. Find out more here.
Tried all of these and need a new challenge? Check out Sydney’s Best Rooftop Bars