Where to find the best cocktails in the Sydney CBD
Whether it's admiring the harbour alfresco or cosying up in an underground speakeasy, Sydney’s drinking scene has raised the bar.
Bartenders take pride in their pours, cocktail ingredients lean toward small-batch and artisanal, and the final touch often involves a little smoke and mirrors. There’s a cocktail for everyone in Sydney; here’s where to find some of the best.
For a cocktail made sustainably: Re- Bar
Eco-warriors can feel good about drinking at South Eveleigh’s Re- Bar, where cocktails are no-waste and the bar was designed using recycled materials. Drinks make use of salvaged ingredients, including fermented banana skins, pickled strawberries and whey.
Try this: Tokyo Lamington Martini (Lamington vodka, Tanqueray gin, bergamot vermouth, pickled bergamot, lamington offcuts)
For a cocktail made with the country’s most expensive whiskey: Nola Smokehouse & Bar
Inspired by the dining scene in New Orleans, this alfresco eatery in Barangaroo serves Southern-style barbecue and American classic cocktails. Here, whisky is king, with more than 500 bottles to try from. A shot of the rarest whiskey in the world will cost you $750.
Try this: New York Sazerac (Half-and-half cognac and rye whiskey, Herbsaint absinthe rinse, Peychaud’s Bitters)
For a cocktail with a harbour view: Café Sydney
If your idea of the perfect cocktail is one that also looks good on social media, Café Sydney’s seasonally inspired cocktail menu will certainly attract the likes, with a glittering backdrop featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Try this: Native Shiraz Negroni (Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz gin, Økar amaro, Maidenii sweet vermouth)
For a cocktail made with Aussie spirit: Dulcie’s Kings Cross
Inspired by Sydney in the 1930s, this underground Kings Cross drinking parlour has a vintage vibe and Australian personality, serving only Aussie wine, spirits and produce.
Try this: Wattleseed Rob Roy (Wattleseed-infused Starward Two-Fold whisky, Causes & Cures semi-sweet vermouth)
For a cocktail that’s one of the best in the world: Maybe Sammy
Named one of the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2019, Maybe Sammy serve their cocktails with a side of theatrics – pop rocks, infused smoke and even magic tricks are all part of the experience.
Try this: Once in a Lifetime (Ketel One vodka, Rhubi mistelle, toasted coconut, coconut water, citrus, bergamot bubble)
For a cocktail that’s non-alcoholic: PS40
With their own line of artisan sodas, PS40 approach drinking differently, using seasonal ingredients and unique flavours for their cocktails and special sodas. For those who don’t want alcohol but still want something special, the bartenders here are willing to get creative, so designated drivers and sober curious can venture beyond mineral water.
Try this: PS Honey Grapefruit Gentian (Local honey, pink grapefruit peel and juice, gentian)
For a cocktail with latin flair: Hyde Hacienda Sydney
Inspired by the plantation architecture of Cuba and the party vibe of Miami, Hyde Hacienda is an adult’s playground, with a rainbow of fruity cocktails, an energetic dancefloor and waterside views of Sydney Harbour.
Try this: Harbourside Hibiscus (Belvedere Vodka, St Germain Elderflower, lemon juice, strawberry syrup, fresh strawberries, basil)
For a cocktail before dancing and drag: Universal Sydney
An icon of Sydney’s gay club scene, Universal is the place to dance all night and feel part of the community. Drag queens perform every week and Tuesday nights sling cocktails for $10 along with $1.50 oysters.
Try this: Judy Garland (apricot brandy, sloe gin, lime juice)
For cocktails by candlelight: Grandma’s Bar
Vintage kitsch mixes with tiki-style drinks at this cosy, candlelit bar hidden in a basement in the CBD. Rum cocktails are the heroes of the menu, and don't leave without ordering one of their legendary toasted jaffles.
Try this: Peanut Butter Colada (Pampero Especial rum, peanut butter, lemon, pineapple, coconut, optional strawberry jam)
For a cocktail at a New York-style supper club: Esquire Bar & Bistro
With more than 180 local and international whiskies on offer, Esquire sets the bar high when it comes to a sophisticated drink with a premium meal. An oasis of style and class in the Queen Victoria Building, come for the scotch fillet, stay for the New York-style whisky sours.
Try this: Mint Julep (Buffalo Trace bourbon, mint, sugar cube)
For a cocktail in a Chinese teapot: Uncle Ming’s
With a modern opium den aesthetic, Uncle Ming’s is an Asian-inspired speakeasy on Clarence Street. The dimly lit décor feels very 1920s Shanghai, the bar snack of choice is a tray of steaming dumplings and you can buy a teapot of cocktails to serve four people.
Try this: Wax On, Wax Off (Roku Japanese gin, whisky, umeshu, Cynar)