When planning a first date, forget mini golf or escape rooms. There’s a time for unexpected activities but for the initial meeting, all you need is flattering lighting, a romantic ambience and an excellent cocktail (or two).
Sydney has a plethora of world-class bars, and the ones listed below cater especially well to creating the perfect situation to let sparks fly.
Hyde Hacienda, Circular Quay
Few things are more romantic than gazing at the glittering Sydney Harbour, and Hyde Hacienda Sydney has one of the best views in town. Add signature cocktails, private booths and a pumping dancefloor and you have a recipe for a memorable date.
A handsome space on level two of the QVB, this elegant bar takes inspiration from New York supper clubs; perfect for a mid-week date. Old school cocktails and an extensive wine list will leave you in good hands.
Opera Bar, Circular Quay
It may be an obvious choice, but there’s something about the magic of this spot that puts you in a great mood. On a sunny day, there’s no better place for a drink that will make you fall in love with Sydney all over again.
Double Deuce, CBD
A funk and soul soundtrack, moody lighting and a fur-lined ‘kissing booth’ sets the stage for a great night at this sultry cocktail bar hidden down a flight of stairs. To break the ice, tell the bartender what flavours you like, and they’ll whip up something original.
Sustainability is at the heart at this hip bar and provides a great talking point. Try cocktails with a twist, like a Blood Orange Negroni or a Yuzu and Matcha Margarita.
Is your date vegetarian? Take them to this friendly spot in Redfern, which has a plant-based menu that champions native ingredients and local producers, and a whole list of ‘Australiana’ cocktails. There’s a snacky bar menu if the date is going well and you want to stay on.
Dear Saint Eloise, Potts Point
Grab the seat by the window if you can – the ideal spot for people watching and sampling delicious drops from the 400-strong wine list. The service is seamless at this cosy bar; it has an enticing snack menu if you get peckish.
Jangling Jack’s, Potts Point
This sultry spot has a lived-in, welcoming vibe that sets the tone for a fun night, with vintage lampshades, dark green walls and a long bar to perch at. The cocktails pay homage to the history of the area – a great conversation starter.
Big Poppa’s, Darlinghurst
If it's a blind date, Big Poppa’s is the place to go – head downstairs to a dimly lit bar blasting ‘90s hip-hop which will fill any awkward pauses. If all goes well, it’s open until 3am and serves excellent cheese plates alongside a lengthy wine list.
With a prime waterside location, this is an ideal warm weather spot for lazy afternoon drinks. The place is always buzzing and with live music during the week, DJs on the weekend and Sangria Sundays, there’s always a good day to go.
If sharing a feast of crusty bread and prosciutto slathered in melted cheese is your ideal date, this underground speakeasy does raclette nights on Wednesdays for two. The leather banquette, reclaimed timber and antique brass furnishing enhances the romantic vibe.
Stowaway Bar, Freshwater
Friendly bartenders, a sunny balcony and magnificent margaritas – this lovely bar is representative of the best of the Northern Beaches. Take a seat in the ‘love nest’, a secluded corner decorated with a ceiling of native preserved botanicals. Hot tip – go on Thursday for classic cocktails all night.
It’s more of a restaurant than a bar, but you can choose to have a couple of snacks and cocktails or make a night of it with mains if all is going well. A former Mr Wong chef is behind the South East Asian inspired menu, with snacks like tom yum prawn dumplings and duck katsu sandwiches that pair well with a Singapore Sling Spritz (Bombay gin, PAMA liqueur, guava, pineapple, prosecco) or a Chow Sour (Skyy vodka, St. Germain elderflower, yuzu, lychee).
Allan Grammar, Penrith
With fresh white walls and sage suede bench seats, this wine bar is a welcome break from the underground speakeasys that populate the CBD. A carefully considered (and extensive) wine list, classic cocktails with a twist and bar snacks like lobster rolls and kingfish with watermelon, radish and pomelo will set you up for a great night.
Nick and Nora’s, Parramatta
For a date you won’t forget, head to this rooftop bar, one of the most opulent in Sydney. It has an area perfectly set up for dates, with views of the city, two-seater tables and buzzers to call staff with so you don’t have to leave your date hanging. Start with a plate of oysters and one of the 60 bottles of champagne on the menu and see where the night takes you.