Can you keep a secret? We reveal Sydney’s best hidden bars.
Is it a butcher shop, Thai takeaway joint, barber shop, 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?
Join the ‘rebirth of cool’ at Maybe Sammy, a new addition to The Rocks. Styled in the theme of a fifties era hotel lobby cocktail bar, the Maybe Sammy team offer 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 relaxed on the pink sofas. The bar menu offers a selection of light refreshments, whilst the cocktails are a spectacle of their own.
115 Harrington St The Rocks, Sydney NSW https://www.maybesammy.com/
Bar Open: Mon Closed, Tue – Saturday 4:30pm-1am, Sun 4:30pm-10pm
‘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.
B2/70 Pitt St, Sydney NSW, Australia 2000 https://www.doorknock.com.au/
Bar Open: Mon – Wed 4pm-midnight, Thurs & Fri 12pm-midnight, Sat 4pm-midnight, Sun Closed.
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.
9A Barrack St, Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000 https://employeesonlysyd.com
Bar Open: Mon – Sat 5pm-3am, Sun Closed.
Old Mate’s Place
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.
Lvl 4, 199 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000, https://www.oldmates.sydney/
Mon Closed, Tue & Wed 5pm-2am, Fri & Sat 12pm-2am, Sun 2pm-2am
Mojo Record Bar
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.
Basement Level 73 York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 http://www.mojorecordbar.com/
Bar open: Mon – Wed 4pm – midnight, Thurs- Sat 4pm – 1am
With a 45 seat capacity, Bulletin Place completely contradicts the mayhem less than one minute away at Circular Quay. Hidden behind large brown doors and up an unmarked stairwell, this bar is a city oasis with a focus on supporting local producers. Every day the bartenders craft 5 original cocktails around the produce they source from the local markets, updating the cocktail list written on brown butchers paper. Adopting the less is more adage, the produce focused food menu is similarly refined. The wine and beer list also adapts to the seasons.
10-14 Bulletin Pl, Sydney NSW 2000 https://bulletinplace.com
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.
89 York St, Sydney, NSW 2000 http://thisisthebarbershop.com/
Bar and Salon open: Mon-Thurs 4pm-midnight, Fri 3pm-midnight, Sat 4pm-midnight, Sun Closed
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.
Rooftop, 56-58 York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 www.therook.com.au
Bar open: Mon 4pm-midnight, Tues-Fri 12pm-midnight, Sat 4pm-midnight, Sun Closed
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.
4/256 Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010 http://shadypinessaloon.com
Bar open: Mon-Sun 4pm to Midnight.
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.
152-156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000 http://thebaxterinn.com
Bar open: Mon-Sat 4pm-1am, Sun Closed
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.
61 York St, Sydney NSW 2000 http://stitchbar.com
Earl’s Juke Joint
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.
407 King St, Newtown, NSW, 2042 https://www.facebook.com/earlsjukejoint/
Bar open: Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight, Sun 4pm-10pm
Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern
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.
199 Elizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000 https://www.ramblinrascaltavern.com/
Bar open: Mon-Wed 4pm-midnight, Thurs 4pm-2am, Fri 12pm – 2am, Sat 4pm-2am, Sun Closed.
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.
Basement 275 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000 http://grandmasbarsydney.com.au
Bar open: Mon- Fri 3pm-late, Sat 5pm-late.
Love, Tilly Devine
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.
91 Crown Ln, Darlinghurst NSW 2010 http://www.lovetillydevine.com
Bar open: Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight, Sun Closed.
Palmer & Co.
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.
Abercrombie Ln, Sydney NSW 2000 http://merivale.com.au/palmerandco
Bar open: Mon-Wed 5pm-3am, Thurs-Fri 3pm-3am, Sat 4pm-3am, Sun 5pm-3:30pm.
The Swinging Cat
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.
44 King St, Sydney NSW 2000 http://www.theswingingcat.com/
Bar open: Mon-Fri 4pm-midnight, Sat 5pm-midnight.
The Lobo Plantation
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.
1/209 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000 http://thelobo.com.au
Bar open: Mon-Sat 4pm-1am, Sun Closed.
What do freshly shucked oysters and Guinness have in common? The Wild Rover. This exposed brick Surry Hills hideaway is no ordinary Irish pub. In addition to the typical Irish brews, The Wild Rover houses Sydney’s largest range of Irish whisky, pairing them with an inventive cocktail list. Order oysters by the dozen or chow down the homemade lamb and vegetarian sausage rolls at The Wild Rover.
75 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW 2010 http://thewildrover.com.au
Bar open: Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight, Sun closed.
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.
50 Hunter St, Sydney NSW 2000 http://frankiespizzabytheslice.com
Bar open: Mon-Sun 4pm-3am.
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.
Lower Ground 55 York St, Sydney NSW 2000 http://www.unclemings.com.au
Bar open: Mon–Thurs 12pm to midnight, Fri 12pm-1am, Sat 4pm-1am, , Sun closed.
Eau De Vie
Go beyond the bathrooms of the Kirketon Hotel and escape to the decadent Eau De Vie. This award winning bar exudes class with moody lighting and leather bar stools. Crafted by bartenders determined to respect the classics, sip on the finest classical cocktails inspired by the frivolity of the 1920s as you gaze in wonder at the majestic looking whisky bottles displayed throughout the room.
229 Darlinghurst Rd, Sydney NSW 2010 http://eaudevie.com.au/cocktail-list-sydney/
Bar open: Mon–Sat 6pm-1am, Sun 6pm-midnight.
Surry Hills meets the sea at the unmarked pirate inspired Button Bar on Foveaux Street. The nautical theme is subtle yet charming, with wooden panelling lining the roof and large rum barrels behind the bar. While the pistachios nuts are complimentary, you’ll have to decide what cheeky cocktail to choose as you sing along to the rock n roll jukebox classics chiming in the background.
65 Foveaux St, Surry Hills NSW 2010 http://button-bar.com.au
Bar open: Mon–Thurs 4pm-midnight, Fri & Sat 4pm-1am, Sun closed.
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.
267 Cleveland St Redfern 2016 https://www.mjolner.com.au
Bar open: Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight, Sun 12pm-10pm
Golden Age Cinema & Bar
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.
80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills NSW 2010 http://ourgoldenage.com.au
Bar open: Tues-Fri 4pm-late, Sat & Sun 2:30pm-late.
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.
154 Enmore Rd, Enmore NSW 2042 http://www.jacobys-tiki-bar.com/
Bar open: Mon-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri – Sat 5pm-1am, Sun 5pm-12pm.
Papa Gedes pays homage to the vibrant streets of New Orleans and its menacing voodoo history. Situated down a city laneway, this local hangout has a funky cocktail list, with a focus on rum. Pair your onerously named witch-doctor concoction with a spot of comedy. Papa Gedes holds comedy nights featuring prominent and up and coming local talent.
348 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000 http://www.papagedes.com Bar open: Mon–Fri 4pm-midnight, Sat 5pm-midnight, , Sun closed.
Tried all of these and need a new challenge? Check out Sydney’s Best Rooftop Bars