What started as a trickle has become a veritable flood: Sydney is awash in killer deals on Spritzes, house wine and schooners of beer on just about any weekday evening, as top-ranked restaurants and bars breathe new life into the happy hour.
Restaurant Hubert, Rosetta, The Dolphin Hotel and Bondi Beach Public Bar are just some of the spots offering midweek drink deals (and more often than not, snacks) that remind you what the happy part of happy hour is all about. A far cry from cheap pints of Tooheys or deep-discount strawberry Margaritas, these hours of power are a way to see more of your favourite restaurants more of the time, and perhaps in a different light (although it always feels like Friday night at Hubert, even at 4pm on a Wednesday). And while the roots of aperitivi are widely accepted to be Italian, the French and Spanish are no strangers to the idea, either. In Sydney, there are no hard and fast rules.
"I think it's just a great way to start your night or do an early evening drink," Bacco chef Scott Williams says.
Here's a round-up of the Sydney venues embracing the idea of pre-dinner drinks and snacks done right.
Restaurant Hubert's Apéritif
When the restaurant crowned GT's New Restaurant of the Year in 2017 introduces a daily apéritif special, you listen up. When you hear there are G&Ts and Dubonnet Highballs going for $5, Negronis at $10 and perfectly serviceable riesling and shiraz at five bucks a glass, you might wonder if your hearing has failed you. Trust your senses and roll up between 4pm and 6pm, Monday to Saturday, for more pleasant surprises: a reasonably priced menu of snacks to go with your libations. Devilled eggs are $3 a pop while the most expensive item, a Normandy Burger at $10, is a rich, cheesy, beefy thing with just the right amount of dill pickle. Chips are extra but with deals this good, who's complaining?
Apéritif Mon-Sat 4pm-6pm, Restaurant Hubert, basement, 15 Bligh St, Sydney, (02) 9232 0881, restauranthubert.com
LP's Quality Meats' Happy Hour
You might have planned many a feast at LP's, Sydney's den of barbecue and smallgoods, but the restaurant on the backblocks of Chippendale also has plenty of bar stools to perch on while you partake in snacks both classic (hello, Continental Deli anchovies) and more adventurous, such as pig's head that's been crumbed, fried and served with a wedge of lemon or perhaps sauce gribiche. All happy hour eats – there's usually five on the menu – are a democratic $10 while the beer of the moment (that's Peroni Red right now) is $5. The $10 glasses of white, red and rosé might include a Spanish pansa blanca or Bird & Fox's McLaren Vale rosé.
"It makes the restaurant feel so different when the bar is hammering," head chef Luke Powell says.
Come down for a drink or two and then stay for dinner – or get your barbecue to go. Thursday night sorted.
Happy Hour Tue-Fri, 5pm-6pm. LP's Quality Meats, suite 1, 12-16 Chippen St, Chippendale, (02) 8399 0929, lpsqualitymeats.com
The Dolphin's Aperitivo
While it's certainly not new, The Dolphin's Sunday to Thursday aperitivo could lay claim to being the first to the party. It's certainly the most high-profile, thanks to its special Sunday guest series that's seen the likes of Ben Shewry, Danielle Alvarez and Analiese Gregory creating one-off dishes that still come in under the $7 threshold. Rock up any other evening that falls between Sunday and Thursday and you're in for quality Italian-leaning snacks albeit without the big names (or big crowds) attached. $7 Spritzes and junmai sake, glasses by the likes of Jamsheed and Tom Shobbrook and $4 ponies of beer are also part of the love. If that's not a deal, we don't know what is.
Aperitivo Sun-Thurs, 5pm-7pm,, The Dolphin, 412 Crown St, Surry Hills, (02) 9331 4800, dolphinhotel.com.au
The sleek panino and espresso bar next to Bacco Osteria is the place to be come knock-off time on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday in Sydney. Tucked away on Angel Place, one of the bar's outdoor tables should be your first choice. There, you might nurse an Americano in one hand while you watch the world go by and let the Bacco team ply you with snacks from the daily-changing menu. Ready yourself for pickled sardines on crostini one day, grilled mortadella and house-made focaccia the next. The most traditional of all the aperitivi we've seen around town, Bacco's offer follows the one-snack-for-one-drink formula and feels like a slice of Italy in Sydney's office-block heartland.
Wed-Fri, 4pm-9pm. Bacco, 1/2-12 Angel Pl, Sydney, (02) 9235 3383, bacco.com.au
Rosetta's Aperitivo Hour
On the other side of the CBD, Rosetta's terrace is an inviting proposition, particularly when $10 drinks and $6 snacks beckon. Alongside the arancini, veal and pecorino meatballs, and salumi from Pino's Dolce Vita are the more substantial pizzette – choose from Margherita, mushroom and Taleggio or the 'nduja-rich Inferno. At $10 a pop, they're a smart move to go with your glass of fiano, Chianti or perhaps prosecco. Cocktails are classic – think Aperol Spritzes and Negronis – while Peronis keep things on-message.
Aperitivo Hour, Mon-Fri, 3pm-6pm. Rosetta, 117 Harrington St, Sydney, (02) 8099 7089, rosettarestaurant.com.au.
Bondi Beach Public Bar's Happy Hours
You read that right: at Bondi Beach Public Bar, it's not one happy hour but two on offer, Monday to Friday. It's the kind of reliability you'd expect from a local pub, and that's exactly what owner co-owners Maurice Terzini and Monty Koludrovic want you to feel. The no-frills offer includes $2 ponies, $5 glasses of wine and $8 Spritzes, but with Icebergs and Dolphin Hotel wine guy James Hird looking after the list, you know you're in safe hands.
Happy Hours, Mon-Fri 5pm-7pm, Bondi Beach Public Bar, 203/180 Campbell Pde, Bondi Beach, (02) 9132 5777, bbpb.com.au.