Sydney's Best Bars

Sydney’s answer to a NYC dive bar, where you feel at home whether there are two or 200 people surrounding you.

Opportunities to down a drink are endless... but to seek the best of the best, we enlisted the help of purveyor of all things cool and in-the-know, and Sydney locals, You Only Live Once (YOLO)

The ultimate guide to the good life, YOLO gave us the rundown on where you should drink, next time you visit Sydney. 

Icebergs Dining Room and Bar | 1 Notts Ave, Bondi

Not only is the Icebergs one of Sydney's finest restaurants, it also has one of Sydney’s finest bars. The view from this place cannot be beaten, rain, hail or shine. But add in an afternoon breeze, a selection of classic cocktails and a crab sandwich from the bar, and now you are winning.

Eau De Vie | 229 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst

A dark, quiet, high-end cocktail bar for people who are serious about their drinks or molecular mixology! Think liquid nitrogen martinis and bills ending with two zeros after the first number.

Ching-a-lings | 133 Oxford St, Darlinghurst

Fun, young hipster crowd, good music, good drinks, a no-stress place to be whether it's for one hour or five.

The Flinders Hotel | 63 Flinders St, Darlinghurst

YOLO favourite to have a YOLO good time. Sydney’s answer to a NYC dive bar where you feel at home whether there are two or 200 people surrounding you. One of the only good places opened late (till 5am).

Lil' Darlin | 235 Victoria St, Darlinghurst

Date vibes, romance vibes, after work vibes, they're all good vibes and the friendly dudes and babes at Lil' Darlin(hurst) will cater to all of them. Cocktails become $10 after 10pm!

Love Tilly Devine | 91 Crown Ln, Darlinghurst 

With just under 300 wines in a tiny 40 seat bar, you're spoilt for choice. You can down fine wines till your teeth are tinted a lovely shade of plum. The interior is styled raw like its moniker; Tilly Devine – a revered brothel owner from the 30s. People love this place, give it a try and see if you do too. 

The Passage | 231A Victoria St, Darlinghurst

This bar (pictured) will be the narrowest one you've ever stepped foot in. It is cosy and intimate though, with a communal dining table at the front (serving tapas till late), and a cocktail bar in the back, boasting one of the most original cocktail lists in Sydney. Try the Pork Margarita with a pork-crackling rim, a Beetnik, made with spiced beetroot puree and served with a baby carrot, or for the sweet tooths, the Machine Gun Jubblies - spiced rum, espresso, maple syrup and macadamia nut butter.

Pocket Bar | 13 Burton St, Darlinghurst

Hip and urban with lots of places to park your fixed gear bike outside. Yum French crepes, impressive cocktails and a chilled vibe - except for when it's so busy that you can't get in the door.

Shady Pines Saloon | 256 Crown St, Darlinghurst

Like your favourite old western shirt, this USA themed beer and whiskey den is perfect for drinking and cussing.

Earl's Juke Joint | 407 King St, Newtown 

If you've been to either of Shady Pines, Baxter Inn or Frankies and loved what you saw/drank, then you’ve got a completely solid reason why you should go to Earl's. It's an old iconic butcher complete with the 1970's styling. Just great, really great. You should go.

Mary's | 6 Mary St, Newtown

Smashing little hidden bar in Newtown has won Sydney's hearts with its cheese/Mary’s burgers. But the bar is as great as its burgers, cute and rambunctious tattooed girls and beardy dudes that will have a drink and play some dice games with you. 

Midnight Special | 44 Enmore Rd, Newtown

Great little local vibes in Newtown across from epic fried chicken joint and bar Hartsyard. It's a dark little place that cranks up the blues and rock'n'roll. Munch on some hotdogs and pound some very reasonably priced drinks. This is what Newtown is all about, love it or leave it.

Miss Peaches | 201 Missenden Rd, Newtown 

Relatively new on the Newtown bar scene, Miss Peaches serves up a concise list of great American IPAs and pale ales, whiskies, bourbons and gins. For the colder nights, get into a hot buttered pumpkin rum, or the Mississippi Sour with Laird's applejack and spicy honey ginger syrup or even a Rum 'n' Raisin root beer float. They make all their own Sarsaparilla syrup themselves and we'll vouch for it being nothing like you've ever tasted. 

Miss G's | 155 Victoria St, Potts Point

Dan Hong and Patrick Friesen's joint venture, it's Asian/Vietnamese inspired and the food and drinks are not like anything else you've consumed in Sydney. Having been awarded such accolades as 2013 Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year, (Two Glasses) and 2011 Australian Bar Awards, Best New Venue Design it's definitely a favourite of locals and booze aficionados alike. If you haven't been, make it high priority.  

Arcadia | 7 Cope St, Redfern 

Brooding little bar with a slightly western feel and a bunch of really good boozy cocktails. It features a great little back courtyard with cosy seating. One of our favourites!

121 BC, (Cantina and Enotica) | 4/50 Holt St, Surry Hills 

Thoroughly Italian in a tight and cosy little space, it doesn't seat many, so don't expect to always get a seat without waiting, but when you do get in, you'll feel pretty special about it. Pick a bottle from the cantina or enjoy the specially selected picks to go with the menu of the day, don't worry the sommelier will thoroughly fill you on what's good. This is a great drinking experience, and you'd be silly to pass on what Mitchell Orr is whipping up in the kitchen.  

The Norfolk | 305 Cleveland St, Surry Hills

This place follows on with a similar vibe to its big brother. Perfect for pre-Porteno drinks or weekend boozing with friends. Beautiful courtyard out the back for summertime, and south of America inspired drink and snacks. Try the Lagerita (beer and margarita)... It’s a winner.

Porteno | 358 Cleveland St, Surry Hills

It would be a crime to go to this place without eating some meat downstairs, but if you are not that way inclined then you will definitely enjoy the substitute of drinking in the upstairs bar or tables in the adjoining lounge. Check out the huge cocktail list that puts a twist on old classics. 

The Barber Shop | 89 York St, Sydney

Need a cut and a superb London drink, thinking gin or a brandy? This is your place. Centrally located on York Street, where else can you get a hairy, have a drink and something quick to eat? Nowhere. It's just a good idea.

Baxter Inn | Basement 152-156 Clarence St, Sydney

Most nights you will see a cue of people lining up to cop a glimpse of the most amount of whisky you're likely to see in Australia. It's old school America at its best. The cocktails are incredible and the staff are cool as cucumbers. You simply must go and check it out! 

Frankie's Pizza | 50 Hunter St, Sydney

Take a trip down to Quay side of the city, and walk into Frankie's Pizza, you'll be greeted by a punk rock and metal bar reminiscent of a Los Angeles dive bar. Velour booths, American and local tap/can beers. When the Shady Pines boys are behind a bar, they know how to do it well. Get rowdy and eat some pizzas.

Hemmesphere | 252 George St, Sydney

Upstairs at the Establishment, this is one super sophisticated cocktail bar. Have dinner first at Sushi e, the fanciest sushi bar in Sydney, then stroll into the Hemmesphere lounge for a seemingly endless list of delicious cocktails.  

Mojo Record Bar | Basement, 73 York St, Sydney

"They're not trying to change the world - they're just after a solid beer and shot joint that'll be there in twenty years." - Alex Vitlin. Perfect.

Wine Library | 18 Oxford St, Woollahra

The best wine, the best people with the best bar snacks and light plates to accompany incredible local and imported fine wines.

Still thirsty? Log on to You Only Live Once for more city bar guides. 

You Only Live Once is the ultimate guide to the good life. Follow the YOLO team on their off the beaten track journeys of cities across the globe.

Quick Facts 
Population Approx 4.3 million
Area 4,000 km²
Time Zone GMT +10
Languages English (official)
Currency Australian Dollar (AUD)
Electricity 220 - 240v 50Hz
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