Sydney – one of the world’s great cities. A bustling place full of fun, good times, laughter and beauty. What’s more, it’s a city that is teeming with great watering holes.
Looking for a great night out in magical Sydney? – then let us help you find a gem of a drinking venue in a city that is awash with them.
There are a few key factors that come into consideration when narrowing down the best bars and we’re here to take you through them. We’ve also added in a few pubs that are worth a visit too.
Not only do you want access to fab food and drink, but a great venue also delivers atmosphere and comfortable vibes. You’ll also want friendly bartenders, perhaps music and dancing too, value for money and oodles of fun and frivolity. So, let’s dive in!
Here’s our guide to the best bars and pubs in Sydney.
Location: 2a Ash Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 Ph: (02) 9114 7372
We’re kicking the list off with this little 1920s themed bar located on Ash Street. As it’s such a small space, it’s perfect for date nights rather than big night-outs.
You’ll find a range of traditional cocktails on the menu, as well as an array of their own creations exclusive to Little Felix. You’ll also find an exhaustive wine list with a range of champagne, white wine, red wine, rose, and vins prestiges.
What’s more, they offer a delightful little snack menu with hors d’oeuvres, charcuterie, and fromages (cheese). They’re open till late through the week and on weekends and you can reserve a table up to 3 months in advance.
Not to worry if you haven’t booked however, as walk-ins are always welcome.
Location: Shop 2, 40 King Street (enter Skittle Lane), Sydney, NSW 2000
Located on King Street, and winner of 2020 Bar of the Year, this little hidden alleyway cocktail gem is more than worth a visit.
Serving combinations you can only dream of from a Breakfast Negroni infused with banana bread, to a Rye Whiskey spiked with sage and sweet potato, PS40 promises to provide its customers with a unique concept combining experience, flavour, and great service all night long.
Bookings are advised. We suggest you get your name down for their recently launched Takeover Tuesday, where local chefs plate up menus with matching cocktails.
Location: Abercrombie Lane, Sydney, NSW 2000 Ph: (02) 9114 7315
You’ll find this themed bar on Abercrombie Lane and it is easily one of the best bars and pubs in Sydney. Their famous theme is prohibition and for those who are unsure of this term, it means lots of jazz and funky 1920s costumes.
They offer live music, an electric atmosphere, and a full food menu that specialises in melted cheese. So if you fancy a cheese-dipped pretzel with your cocktail, look no further than Palmer & Co.
Porterhouse Irish Pub
Location: 233 Riley Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010 Ph: (02) 9211 4454
The Porterhouse Irish pub is situated in the heart of buzzing Surry Hills, only two minutes from Oxford Street and a quick stroll from Central station.
This cosy traditional Irish Pub will make you feel right at home regardless of your origins.
Enjoy the best pint of Guinness along with some award winning food, specialising in fresh local caught seafood and offering a Beef and Guiness Pie that is not only delicious, but simply enormous too (512 grams! … yeah, baby). It comes with mashy and mushy peas too.
Friendly management and bar staff contribute to the ‘craic’, and the Porterhouse also offers reasonably priced accommodation. It’s also a lively place to watch sports, with a number of large TV screens and a cracking atmosphere.
Editor’s Note: We have recently learned that the Porterhouse Irish Pub is closed for redevelopment. As this is the case, why not give this recommendation a try…?
Location: 115 Harrington St, The Rocks, NSW 2000 Ph: (02) 9241 4970
You honestly can’t talk about the best bars and pubs in Sydney and not mention Maybe Sammy.
Multi-award winning for its menu, drinks, staff and general fabulousness, this chic, sleek venue is setting the standard for fashionable cocktail bars.
The vibe is very much 1950s and you could almost imagine Frank Sinatra sat at a table, sipping one of the 14 bespoke cocktails that the clearly talented team have dreamt up. As beautiful as they are clever, the cocktails at Maybe Sammy’s are world class. And they taste divine too!
If you think putting cucumber in your gin is the height of sophistication, you can take the veggie content up a notch with the superbly named You Don’t Win Friends With Salad ($24). A stunning tipple of Hendrick’s Gin, Olive Oil Tio Fino Sherry, Empirical Spirits Helena, Olive Oil, Basil, Watermelon & Tomato Soda and Olive Oil Air.
Like the sound of this? Then take a trip to Melbourne and check out the similarly adventurous drinks menu at Bouvardia cocktail bar.
Location: 348 Kent Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 Ph: (02) 9299 5671
This neighborhood bar located on Kent Street offers cocktails with a twist. Named after the voodoo spirit of lust and laughter, you’re guaranteed a fun night out.
Infused with the spirit of witch-doctor apothecary, classic and tiki cocktails, homemade elixirs, absinthes, and beers, the drinks will never disappoint. They’re all served up with plenty of soul and rituals of relaxation.
Booking is advised but for smaller groups, Papa Gede’s does hold tables every night for walk-ins. So if you forget to book, don’t be afraid to try it out anyway. You can even bring along your pooch.
Location: 407 King Street, Newtown, NSW 2042
Located in Newtown, in Sydney’s trendy inner west, this bar is well the short hike across the city. This is a favourite with those wanting a taste of the Deep South, as it tips its hat to New Orleans and salutes the juke joints of the city.
This is a friendly neighbourhood haunt. Here, you’ll receive a warm welcome and get to experience the great atmosphere so loved at Earl’s Juke Joint. Whether you’re after a fancy cocktail, a tall glass of wine, or a fresh craft brew, look no further.
The bartenders are more than happy to recommend their favourites and you won’t find more accommodating staff elsewhere in the city.
Don’t be confused by the 1950’s butcher shop entrance. The cool vibes and clever cocktails are housed inside.
It does however get busy quickly. With that in mind, we recommend avoiding it on the weekend if you don’t want to stand in line for hours. But its popularity can only be a good thing, right? We feel it’s proof that this is one of the finest bars and pubs in Sydney.
Location: 50 Hunter Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Chances are if you’re looking for a bar that also does great pizza to pair with your beer, you’re gonna love Frankie’s Pizza.
Their two main features are live music and pizza by the slice. And that’s why they live by the motto that their beer is cold, their pizza is hot and the rock is hard.
The classic pizzeria opens up onto Sydney’s favourite hard rock dive and so you really get the best of both worlds. It’s open 4pm-3am daily, so pop on down and get yourself a slice of pizza before dancing the night away.
Whether you like it thin and crispy or bubbling and chewy, here’s our guide to the Best Pizza Places in Sydney
Location: 210 Australia Street, Newtown, NSW 2042 Ph: (02) 8624 3131
This delightful bistro can be found in Newtown and is both a deli and a bar.
Don’t be put off by the ‘canned’ beverages. From canned margaritas to canned cosmos all of the drinks are fresh and canned on-site. Even better, to go with your tipple there’s some of the greatest antipasti in Sydney, killer cheeses, and tinned fish.
This bar offers a unique twist and an old-world atmosphere and we promise you’ll end up going back for more.
Location: 6 Bridge Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
It’s back to the city for the next of our best bars and pubs in Sydney.
Are you struggling to find an original gift for a friend or family member? Check out our suggestions in this link.
Offering a wide selection of cocktails from a Jimmy Jazz Bellini to a Bambi Woods, this lounge bar in Sydney was named after a dive bar in a cult Patrick Swayzee flick and promises a good time as you boogie down to Boogie Nights with all your friends and favourite drinks.
They even offer the chance of a dealer’s choice. This is where you tell the bartender what you feel like and they’ll mix you up something based on their expertise.
Location: 152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 Ph: (02) 8999 3850
This bar takes you back to 18th century London and resembles more of a traditional tavern. In the winter, they offer seats right by the fireplace where you can sip on a pint and get cozy with your loved one.
They have all the brews you’d expect to find in a pub in Britain as well as a few great cocktails if you feel like going fancy. Their food menu represents traditional British ‘pub grub’, and includes items such as fish butties and Sunday roasts.
Looking for the Best Seafood Restaurants in Sydney? Here are our favourites.
Location: 183 Regent Street, Redfern, NSW 2016 Ph: (02) 7209 4047
Located in Redfern, an inner-city suburb, The Bearded Tit has a huge community feel and values inclusivity. The stereogamous spinning tunes, drag shows, and crazy decor are just some of the reasons why it’s so great.
You can kiki all through the night and you know you’re in for a wild time. Flying the free-spirited flag and promising a warm welcome to everyone, The Bearded Tit is the place to be.
91 Crown Lane, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Interestingly, the name Love, Tilly Devine comes from one of the country’s foremost crime bosses.
Happily, their food is just as good as their drinks selection.
A firm favourite to pair with that long glass of wine is the Japanese vegemite on parmesan toast. This winner brings a fusion of flavours you never thought you needed until now.
If vegemite isn’t your thing, the Sydney Rock Oysters are also incredible, as well as the fried halloumi with chilli jam.
For more stunning Asian flavours, see our recommendations for the Best Japanese Restaurants in Sydney
Location: Level 4/199 Clarence St, Sydney, NSW 2000
Old Mate’s Place is arguably one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets. Navigate the flight of stairs and find the warm and welcoming staff at the door ready to help you have a great night out.
They’ll be able to offer either an upstairs or inside table. Which spot should you choose? Well, we like the upstairs, where you’ll find one of Sydney’s favourite rooftop bars. It’s a great place to sip cocktails, dine on great food or celebrate with some champagne. Get there early on a sunny weekend afternoon and soak up the sun as you chill.
Location: 74-76 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010 Ph: (02) 8860 0808
Like your wine? Head to Poly and you won’t be disappointed. With such an extensive wine list and staff to guide you through it, you’ll be sipping it by the glass all evening.
No need to worry if wine isn’t your thing as a range of cocktails, beers, or non-alcoholic drinks can also be found on the menu. They also offer a range of woodfired snacks and main courses meaning you can wine and dine in style.
If you make the trip up to the Gold Coast, give some of these dining spots a try.
Location: Basement/70 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Nestled in the heart of Sydney CBD, this leading cocktail and wine bar is more than worth the visit. Hidden below the busy life above, this bar offers everything from biodynamic wines to fancy cocktails such as a Cantaloupe Island or a Chloe Amour.
It’s a great place to impress a date or if you fancy a cocktail night at home, they even offer delivery so you can get their great tasting food and drink delivered right to your door.
Location: 275 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Our final recommendation for the best bars and pubs in Sydney is Grandma’s Bar located on Clarence Street.
Offering a truly authentic vintage dining experience, you can step back in time to enjoy a cocktail that’s served in patterned crockery, whilst also being surrounded by vintage lamps, rocking chairs, and that floral wallpaper you’d find at Granny’s house.
It’s a small tucked-away bar but offers good times and great Tiki and Rum style cocktails, so be sure to check them out.
Heading up the coast to Newcastle? Check out these places to eat.
Location: Shop 1&2/185 Campbell St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010 Ph: 0413 899 443
We’re calling it. Bar SOUL may only have been open for a couple of months, but it’s already one of the hottest spots in town.
The newest baby in the SOUL Dining family, Bar SOUL sits in what was once the SOUl Deli site. But don’t fret. SOUL Deli hasn’t gone, but merely moved down the road.
And like its sister establishments, the heart of Bar SOUL is Korean. Described as an all-day Korean tapas and wine bar, its the perfect place for a chilled lunch, or evening catch up with friends.
Order a Gimlet and settle in the Potato Crumpet dressed with Kimchi Creme Fraiche & Smoked Cod Roe. Or maybe a glass of Rose and the Dry Aged Duck Breast with Sweet Potato Puree & Korean Cabbage Salad sounds more appealing?
Whatever you choose, part of the fun of Bar SOUL is venturing into new food and drink combinations and seeing which ones work for you. But one thing we are sure of is this this place is rapidly getting a name as one of the top bars and pubs in Sydney.
If you find yourself over in Barangaroo, check out these hotspots.
Update – Oct 2022
The announcement that not 1, but 2 Sydney bars, are on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars has to get a mention.
The glorious 1950s tinged Maybe Sammy on at 115 Harrington St, The Rocks slid into 29th spot (it was No. 22 in 2021). Meanwhile, the tiny, but seriously hip mezcal bar, Cantina OK! , virtually hidden down a laneway in Council Place, came in at 41 (from 29 last year).
So do yourself a favour and give them both a go. If they make the top 50 bars in the world, they are clearly amongst the best bars and pubs in Sydney.
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