After 17 years of living in Sydney, I would consider myself somewhat qualified to find a good cocktail bar in the city. I may not be at my youngest and hippest anymore, but fortunately I work with a couple of twenty something’s who are, so am still able to find a good cocktail when I need one.
My most recent favourite cocktail bar is Lobo Plantation in the city. Decked out in some sort of Cuban Caribbean colonial theme by an ex-Ivy bartender, it exceeded expectations and was indeed discovered to be cool when the hipsters showed up to disturb our pre-dinner cocktails. I recommend the Awkward Pearing- a coffee and expresso cocktail that was surprisingly good.
Another of the recent cocktail-bar-in-a-basement variety is Eau De Vie in Darlinghurst. I was not impressed and will not be back. Fortunately, we discovered the nearby Hinky Dinks which was a pleasant surprise. I loved the American diner set up and the Popcorn Paloma- popcorn infused tequila with grapefruit soda. Yum!
Baxters– the late night whisky bar down an alley way that everyone down the Circular Quay end of town is talking about is a favourite of my husband. If you are not a whisky drinker go to the nearby Palmer and Co instead. This 1920’s themed speakeasy below The Establishment is noisy, but nice, and they have lovely staff.
For a summer cocktail, Opera Bar is my go to place. You can’t beat a bar at the Opera House with a view of the Harbour Bridge on a sunny day in Sydney. I have often been known to remark that “it isn’t summer in Sydney without a cocktail at Opera Bar.”
The nearby ECQ Bar is also a great alternative for a less crowded destination. Nice high bar stools and good classic cocktails like Cosmopolitans and Margarita’s. I also like Cruise Bar on the other side of Circular Quay- comfy outdoor lounges and lovely Mojito concoctions.
In my 20’s, I was taken to Jimmy Lik’s in Potts Point by a much cooler person than I. We also went to a place where you had to knock on the door and they looked at you through a peephole. Sorry- I have no idea where it was, how to find it, or how to get in again.
Other cooler than I friends have introduced me to The Cuban Place in the city centre which is a bit noisy, but has a cheap cocktail hour. I have also been taken to a bar in Paddington that was a place to be at the time, but I just didn’t like drinking my cocktail out of a jar while sitting on a crate that much.
Sometimes these new funky cocktail bars make me nostalgic for the days when Cargo Bar, Bungalow 8 and Pontoon in Darling Harbour were the places to go. Nice traditional bars on the water with a packed dance floor and a line up at the door.
Last time I checked Ivy and The Argyle were the places to go for cocktail and night out on the town, but I am sure that’s all changing again even as I write this.