I firmly believe that Sydney has some of the best cocktail bars in the world.
From plush rooftop bars, with sensational views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, to secret drinking annexes down secluded laneways, there are plenty of venues to visit on a night out.
Offering everything from the classics like the Manhattan, Negroni and Sazerac to more inventive concoctions, that come with a healthy dose of theatre, your cocktail options are wide and varied in the capital of New South Wales.
Outlined below is a list of some of my favourite cocktail bars in the city. Next time you are on a night out you should definitely pay them a visit.
Located in The Rocks, this uber cool Las Vegas style cocktail bar is very popular with the after work crowd.
The menu was curated by Creative Director Andrea Gualdi, who was once voted the bartender of the year. It features eight signature cocktails, each one a modern take on classic favourites, that have all been themed around the Rat Pack.
Maybe Sammy is currently one of only two bars in the whole of Sydney to feature on the World’s 50 Best Bars list.
One of their most popular offerings is the Flamingo Capri. Which is mixed with Barsol Pisco, aquavit, rhubarb, citrus, and also bitters.
The second of the two venues on the World’s 50 Best Bars list is Cantina OK!
Located in the CBD, a very short walk from the Queen Victoria Building, this self-confessed ‘micro mezcal mecca’ is hidden at the back end of a slightly dodgy looking laneway.
Pre-Covid the venue used to be standing room only, but it has since introduced socially distanced seating in the laneway – which gives it a slightly more welcoming appeal.
If you are new to mezcal, the staff here are very knowledgeable and will introduce you the spirit with a flavour profile you will enjoy.
Should it not to be to your liking though, their Margarita with pink salt is considered by many to be one of the best in Sydney.
Just off Oxford Street it can be a little hard to find at first, as the entry door does not have a sign. But once you manage to locate it, you will immerse yourself into a world of country music, Americana, taxidermied animals and antique furniture.
This Nashville-themed den is always packed and a little raucous, though that is part of the appeal.
Thankfully there is no line dancing here. But you do get an excellent selection of rye, cognac, bourbon and rum, as well of course as some inspired cocktails.
Another place that you could easily miss is Earl’s Juke Joint. Located on King Street in Newtown, it is hidden beyond the facade of an old butcher shop. The only thing giving it away is the presence of a rather chary bouncer standing next to it.
Once inside you will find a smoky, dark and candlelit New Orleans-inspired drinking hole, with a huge wooden bar and old style photo frames on the wall.
The cocktails here are innovative and appealing, with concoctions like the Hobo Julep (made from bourbon and mint bitters), and their take on a pina colada, being particular highlights.
When it comes to secluded cocktail bar entrances, the Sydney CBD does not have a monopoly on them. Indeed over at Manly, in the Northern Beaches, there is a destination that rivals the best of them.
Concealed behind a fridge door in a small deli, The Cumberland is a different world waiting to be discovered. Accessed by a stone spiral staircase, which gives it a rather prohibition, speakeasy type of feel, this intimate venue that contains only 75 seats and vintage furniture.
The drinks list comprises of 250 whiskies, a fantastic wine cellar and a trio of distinct cocktail lists. One of which features the delectable Lilly Pilly Sour. Which is made with lilly pilly, lemon, gin, aquafaba and lemon myrtle tea.