Sydney's best bars range from underground spirit specialists dishing out cocktails to sea-side watering holes with ocean views, according to our round-up from the 2019 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. Whatever your poison, these spots in Sydney's inner west, eastern suburbs, CBD and beyond will deliver the goods every time.
Despite the sunshine, Sydney likes it subterranean, or so it would seem. A world of whisky lies beneath the streets at The Baxter Inn (Basement, 152-156 Clarence St, Sydney, thebaxterinn.com), while basement libations at The Lobo Plantation (Basement, 209 Clarence St, Sydney, thelobo.com.au) shine a spotlight on rum. Deeper still, bottled cocktails at Bar Normandy (in Restaurant Hubert, 15 Bligh St, Sydney, 02 9232 0881, restauranthubert.com) are all class, whereas refreshments at Ramblin' Rascal Tavern (Basement, 60 Park St, Sydney, ramblinrascaltavern.com) are more rambunctious.
Above ground, Sunday sessions with seaside views at Icebergs Dining Room & Bar (1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach, 02 9365 9000, idrb.com) are tough to beat, as are sundowners with sweeping panoramas at Smoke (35 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo, 02 8587 5400, barangaroohouse.com.au). Thirsty for action? Take in drinks with a drag show at The Bearded Tit (183 Regent St, Redfern, 02 8283 4082, thebeardedtit.com), play pinball with pints at Frankie's (50 Hunter St, Sydney) or follow your trim with a G & T at The Barber Shop (89 York St, Sydney, 02 9299 9699, thisisthebarbershop.com).
Further west, things take a tropical turn at Jacoby's (154 Enmore Rd, Enmore, jacobys-tiki-bar.com), and nearby sister saloon Earl's Juke Joint (407 King St, Newtown) invites you to New Orleans via an old butcher-shop façade. Should hunger strike late, killer burgers soak up shots of Jack at Mary's (6 Mary St, Newtown), and guacamole at Bar Patrón (2 Phillip St, Sydney, barpatron.com.au) begets Margarita pounding. Tequila-fuelled thrills continue at Tio's (4/14 Foster St, Surry Hills), but it's more about bourbon at Shady Pines Saloon (4/256 Crown St, Darlinghurst, shadypinessaloon.com) and rye at Kittyhawk (16 Phillip La, Sydney, thekittyhawk.com.au).
Begin a bar crawl with bottomless brunch at Dead Ringer (413 Bourke St, Surry Hills, 02 9331 3560, deadringer.wtf) or This Must be the Place (239 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, 02 9331 8063, tmbtp.com.au), the place, indeed, for a civilised Spritz. Archie Rose Distilling Co. ( 85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery, 02 8458 2300, archierose.com.au) lets you blend your own hooch, though it's best left to the experts at Bulletin Place (Level 1, 10-14 Bulletin Pl, Sydney, 02 8006 8833, bulletinplace.com) who stick to a short and seasonal script, or PS40 (2/40 King St, Sydney) where housemade shrubs and soda play a starring role. She Loves You (530 King St, Newtown) may be the newest darling in town, but beats and brie still draw crowds at Big Poppa's (96 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, bigpoppa.com.au).
After work, Rockpool Bar & Grill (66 Hunter St, Sydney, 02 8099 7077, rockpoolbarandgrill.com.au) remains the flag-bearer for the suited and stilettoed in the CBD, but competition will stiffen now Newtown's Continental (210 Australia St, Newtown, 02 8624 3131, continentaldelicatessen.com.au) has opened its Phillip Street (167 Phillip Street, Sydney, 02 9922 7347) outpost.