Drinks News

The best Sydney bars to visit in summer

Don your crispest linen and find your best friends. These are our favourite sunny spots for a drink in town.

By Tristan Lutze
Smoke Bar, Barangaroo
December through to February marks the window of opportunity when Sydney's love of the outdoors meets our love of a good drink.
Whether it's beachside bars, rooftop cocktail spots in the heart of the CBD, or gin factories in the Inner West, these spots are ready-made for summer sipping.
Additional words by Georgie Meredith and Yvonne C Lam.

The Newport

It only takes a 45-minute drive from the city to feel like you're a million miles away at Merivale's sprawling resort-esque operation on the Northern Beaches. Perched over Pittwater, The Newport is a fun park of bayside dining and entertainment. It has its own pizzeria, seafood market, French rôtisserie and burger shack, as well as a kid's play area and stage for live music.
The drinks are where things get serious. There's a well-rounded wine list (the four sparkling options by the glass are a metric of the venue's made-for-summer vibes) and a holiday-ready assembly of cocktails including a frozen passionfruit Long Island iced tea and Elderflower Spritz. Grab one of the many seats under an umbrella, sit back, and let day gradually fade into night.
What we're drinking: the Watermelon Margarita with Olmeca tequila, Manzanilla, watermelon and lime.
2 Kalinya St, Newport, NSW
Open Mon-Fri 9.30am-midnight, Sat 9am-midnight, Sun 9am-11pm

Smoke Bar

Historically the east bank of Cockle Bay was known for its quantity, rather than quality, of drinking venues. So Smoke, on the top floor of the stacked-bowl sculpture that is Barangaroo House, breathes life into the precinct. There's that panoramic view of the harbour, yes, but better still there's a considered wine list populated – for the most part – by Australian producers. Bar snacks, including the very drink-friendly selection of things-on-sticks, are just a taste of executive chef Tom Haynes' clever cooking. Want more? Head to the excellent Bea restaurant on the middle level, and if your thirst is still be quenched make for the ground-floor House Bar.
What we're drinking: the plump and juicy Tomfoolery Young Blood Shiraz.
Level 2, Barangaroo House, 35 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo, NSW
Open Mon-Wed 3pm-midnight, Thu-Sun noon-midnight
Smoke Bar. Photo: Alana Dimou

Poor Toms Gin Hall

We're not for a moment suggesting we'd turn it down at other times of the year, but gin – with its clean, easy-drinking characteristics – has summer written all over it. And when it comes to the kind of refreshing gin-forward cocktails that sunny days scream for, we prefer to go directly to the source.
Poor Toms has been producing its celebrated small-batch gins out of a small Marrickville factory since 2015. So on warm weekends, when they push up the roller door and pull out the bar stools, this dog-friendly converted warehouse is our go-to for a relaxed gin and tonic. Hungry? Pizza Madre delivers right to your stool.
What we're drinking: The Strawberry Gin Martini with Poor Toms strawberry gin and Dry PX Amontillado sherry.
6 Chalder Ave, Marrickville, NSW
Open Fri 3pm-10pm, Sat noon-10pm, Sun noon-9pm

Cured & Cultured, Bennelong

The restaurant's fine-dining elegance is no secret, but for those seeking the Bennelong experience without committing to the full three-course meal, Cured & Cultured bar is your ticket. Pull up a stool at the counter where chefs turn out swish bar snacks, like suckling-pig sausage rolls and red-claw yabbies with lemon jam, cultured cream and buckwheat pikelets. Plus there's reason to celebrate the cocktail list that shines a light on Australian native produce. Sitting beneath the Opera House sails, eating sausage rolls and sipping mod-Oz drinks – how good's Sydney?
What we're drinking: The Botanical Garden with rosemary and olive-infused vodka, dry vermouth, sea salt and lemon peel.
Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, NSW
Open Thu-Sun noon-2.30pm, Sun-Thu 5.30pm-10pm, Fri and Sat 5pm-10pm
Cured & Cultured, Bennelong. Photo: Rob Shaw

Old Mate's Place

Most summer-ready venues like to announce themselves with colourful beach umbrellas, glass-trembling bass beats and kilometres of festoon lighting. There's no such seasonal ceremony at Old Mate's Place, which, although located in the heart of the CBD, practically requires a compass and assortment of adventuring gear to find.
Clamber your way up the four flights of steep stairs, navigate through the library-like cocktail bar and up another (thankfully, shorter) flight of stairs, however, and you'll be rewarded with fine 360-degree views of Sydney, and even finer cocktails.
The inventive drinks list, mixed by some of the city's most accomplished bartenders, incorporates ingredients like shiso, pea shrub and green ants, while the selection of cheese steak sandwiches is just the sustenance you need for your final descent.
What we're drinking: The Future Thinking cocktail with green apple, shiso, snow pea, green ant gin, verjuice, bianco, bitters, egg white and green ants.
Level 4, 199 Clarence St, Sydney, NSW
Open Tue-Wed 5pm-2am, Thu-Sat noon-2am, Sun 2pm-2am

  • undefined: Tristan Lutze