15 of the best bars in Sydney for a first date

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).

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Jan 2022 -
min read

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 Sydney, 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.

Friends enjoying cocktails with Sydney Harbour views at Hyde Hacienda Sydney Bar and Lounge, Sydney.

Hyde Hacienda Sydney Bar and Lounge, Sydney

Esquire, CBD

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.

Esquire Bar & Bistro in City Centre, Sydney City

Esquire Bar & Bistro, Sydney City

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.

Romantic Cheers at Sydney Opera Bar - Sydney Harbour

Sydney Opera Bar, Sydney Harbour

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.

Double Duece in Sydney city

Double Duece, Sydney City

Re Bar, Redfern

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.

Couple enjoying cocktails at Re bar, Sydney

Re- Bar, Redfern

The Sunshine Inn, Redfern

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.

The Sunshine Inn in Redfern,  Inner Sydney

The Sunshine Inn, Redfern

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.

Dear Sainte Éloise at Potts Point in Sydney City

Dear Sainte Éloise, Potts Point - Credit: Nikki To - Buffet Digital

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.

Jangling Jack's in Potts Point, Sydney City

Jangling Jack's, Potts Point 

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.

Big Poppa's in Darlinghurst, Inner Sydney

Big Poppa's, Darlinghurst 

Manly Wharf Bar, Manly

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. 

Couple enjoying food and drink at Manly Wharf Hotel, Manly

Manly Wharf Hotel, Manly

Cumberland, Manly

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.

Couple watching a bartender preparing cocktails at The Cumberland in Manly

The Cumberland, Manly

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.

Stowaway Bar at Freshwater in Northern Beaches, Sydney North

Stowaway Bar, Freshwater

Lilymu, Parramatta

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).

The entrance to Lilymu at Parramatta Square in Parramatta, Sydney west

Lilymu, Parramatta

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.

Guests enjoying drinks at Allan Grammar wine bar, Penrith

Allan Grammar, Penrith

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.

Couples enjoying cocktails at Nick and Nora's bar in Parramatta, Sydney West

Nick and Nora's, Parramatta

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