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The Bardar Guide to Sydney’s Best Bars

An intro to this guide

There can be no criticising Sydney’s bar scene. The depth and variety of venues across town, from basement drinking dens to relaxed rooftops, saloons to speakeasies, is simply awesome. The Bardar team loves getting around a bar the odd cocktail or two, and so we’ve compiled a (by no means exhaustive) list of Sydney’s best bars.

The guide

1. Old Mate’s Place

Old Mate’s Place is a hidden rooftop gem offering panoramic views and an impressive whiskey selection.

Ascend the narrow staircase of an unassuming building on Clarence St, and you’re greeted with an intimate setting that feels like a well-kept secret. The rooftop bar offers sweeping city views, making it an idyllic spot for both laid-back afternoons and lively evenings. Their cocktail menu, brimming with classics and innovative concoctions, pairs perfectly with an extensive whiskey selection that would make any enthusiast’s heart sing.

2. Maybe Sammy

Maybe Sammy blends 1950s glamour with masterfully crafted cocktails so well it earned the title of “Best Bar in Australasia” in 2023.

If Gatsby were to open a bar in modern-day Sydney, it would probably look like Maybe Sammy. Stepping into this 1950s-inspired cocktail bar is akin to stepping back in time, where elegance meets a touch of playful mischief. The bartenders here are performers in their own right, crafting cocktails with a flourish that is as entertaining as it is delicious. Each sip is a journey, each drink a story, making Maybe Sammy a must-visit for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

3. Apollonia

Apollonia offers a Sicilian escape with its classic Italian cocktails and cozy underground vibe.

To descend into Apollonia is to discover a secret haven inspired by the rustic charm of Sicily. This underground bar, with its dim lighting and intimate corners, invites you to savour classic Italian cocktails as authentic as they are delightful. The ambience whispers tales of old-world romance and clandestine meetings, perfectly encapsulating the essence of the Godfather character from which the bar draws its name.

4. Bar 1880

Bar 1880 marries historic charm with an innovative cocktail menu and is one of Sydney’s best new bars.

Situated in a historic building, Bar 1880 exudes a rich, vintage ambience that transports you to a bygone era. The sophisticated décor, complete with plush furnishings and ornate details, creates an atmosphere of refined elegance. Their selection of wines and spirits is carefully curated, ensuring that every glass is a testament to quality and taste. It’s the perfect spot for a quiet evening with friends, or an intimate date.

5. Dean and Nancy on 22

Dean and Nancy on 22 elevates your night with stunning city views and luxurious cocktails.

Dean and Nancy on 22 offers not just drinks, but an experience. The upscale, retro-chic décor, paired with an expertly crafted menu, makes it a destination for those looking to elevate their evening—both literally and figuratively. It’s a place where every detail is designed to impress, from the stunning views to the luxurious ambience.

6. Tio’s Cerveceria

Tio’s Cerveceria infuses Sydney’s nightlife with vibrant Mexican flair and a stellar tequila selection.

If you’re looking for a bar that feels like a fiesta every night, Tio’s Cerveceria is your destination. This Mexican-inspired bar is a riot of colours, eclectic décor, and an infectiously relaxed atmosphere. The margarita is the drink of choice here, and the many delicious takes on this classic slung at Tio’s make this bar a hotspot for those who prefer their nights with a bit of spice and a lot of fun.

7. Bar Planet

Bar Planet transports you to a celestial realm with its creative cocktails and cosmic ambience.

Bar Planet is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a (please forgive us) out-of-this-world martini. With its celestial-themed décor and a menu that pushes the boundaries of creativity, this bar promises an otherworldly experience. From the complimentary popcorn to the gelato-slushy cocktails to their famous “Infinite Spirit” gin martinis, no Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sydney’s cocktail bars is complete without mentioning this fine establishment.

8. Shady Pines

Shady Pines delivers a Nashville honkey-tonk experience with great live music and expertly mixed drinks.

Walking into Shady Pines is like stepping into a rustic Nashville saloon. The atmosphere is laid-back, the décor charmingly rough-around-the-edges, and the live music a delightful treat. Known for its warm, friendly vibe and expertly crafted drinks, it’s a local favourite for those who want a break from the polished and the predictable.

9. Lobo

The Lobo brings the Caribbean to Sydney with its exceptional rum cocktails and tropical ambience.

Lobo is a celebration of all things rum. This Cuban-inspired bar, with its tropical décor and lively atmosphere, offers an extensive list of rum-based cocktails that will transport you straight to the Caribbean. The staff’s passion for their craft is evident in every drink, making it a must-visit for rum enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike.

10. Baxter Inn

Baxter Inn is a speakeasy-style bar with one of the best whiskey selections in Sydney.

The allure of Baxter Inn lies in its speakeasy charm. Nestled in a basement, this bar is a haven for whiskey lovers, boasting an extensive collection that spans the globe. The atmosphere is both intimate and unpretentious, inviting whisky connoisseurs and newbies alike to sample their diverse offerings.

11. PS40

PS40 sets the bar high with house-made sodas and inventive cocktails in a chic, industrial space.

Whereas most bars look to the past, harkening back to the drinking dens of bygone eras to create unique aesthetics, PS40 is refreshingly forward-looking. PS40 stands out with its innovative approach to mixology. Known for crafting their own sodas, this bar’s cocktails are creative, ingenious and futuristic. The modern, industrial décor adds to the vibe, making it a hotspot for those who appreciate cutting-edge drinks in a stylish setting.

12. The Rover

The Rover blends vintage charm with modern sophistication, offering expertly crafted cocktails in a relaxed, cosy setting.

Nestled in the heart of Surry Hills, The Rover is a charming bar that combines old-world elegance with the comforts of modernity. A warm and intimate ambience is created by the cozy, dimly lit interior – replete with exposed brick walls and plush banquettes to sink into. The Rover is renowned for its expertly crafted cocktails, which are as visually stunning as they are delicious. Their menu also features a carefully curated selection of wines and spirits, ensuring there’s something to satisfy every palate. With its warm vibe, the Rover is the perfect spot for a relaxed drink in Surry Hills.

13. The Caterpillar Club

The Caterpillar Club is a hidden speakeasy offering masterfully crafted cocktails, great vibes and live music in a charming, vintage setting.

Hidden away beneath the bustling streets of Sydney, The Caterpillar Club is a speakeasy-style bar that would feel like a well-kept secret, were it not for the massive line out the front. This gem of a bar exudes an air of sophistication and charm, with its dim lighting, plush vintage furnishings, and jazz-infused ambience. The Caterpillar Club bartenders are savants, and with a 4 am license on Fridays and Saturdays, are slinging their excellent beverages late into the evening. The Caterpillar Club also hosts “one of the world’s largest private record collections” and has live music and DJs, adding a lively touch to this sensual speakeasy.

Sydney Bar Crawls

Clarence St. Slide

This bar crawl takes advantage of the fact that four of Sydney’s best bars are so close together. Amble down Clarence St, hitting each of these venues at your leisure for a night of good times and better drinks.

Plan: The Lobo → Baxter Inn → Old Mate’s Place → PS40

Quay Crawl

This bar crawl focuses on the best spots in the Circular Quay area, hitting the busier Dean and Nancy and Maybe Sammy first before they get too packed and then heading over to the less flashy 1880 and Apollonia for a nightcap.

Plan: Caterpillar Club → Dean and Nancy on 22 → Maybe Sammy → Bar 1880 → Apollonia

Surry Hills Shindig

Heading over to Surry Hills, this bar crawl is a great way to spend a raucous Saturday night. A bit looser and more relaxed than the fancy spots in the city, these bars are the perfect places to unwind and catch up with your close pals. Plus, ending on Oxford St with Shady Pines leaves you with plenty of lively afters options, such as Universal, Carousel or Club 77.

Plan: The Rover → Tio’s → Shady Pines Saloon


Sydney’s bar scene is a kaleidoscope of experiences, each bar offering its own unique charm and character. Sydney’s best bars promise more than just great drinks — they offer stories, atmospheres, and moments that linger long after the night ends. That’s why we think you’ve got to get out there and start giving a few of these joints a try yourselves!

By the way, if you’re looking for the best method to discover even more of Sydney’s exceptional bars, check out the Bardar app – available now on iOS to help you amplify your nights out!