It’s no secret I love a good cocktail (or two), so I thoroughly enjoyed working my way through the best bars Sydney has to offer. This city hosts a huge variety of bars, from rooftops to basements and everything in-between, there quite literally somewhere for everyone in whatever mood or vibe you seek. I quickly discovered, most of the best bars are not the easiest to find, hidden away from the casual passer-by and they almost always have a great backstory. Here is a selection of my favourite bars in Sydney.  

A modern twist on the 1950’s in Miami mixed with Cuban vibes, Hacienda is a must visit for your Sydney bars bucket list. Tucked inside the Pullman Hotel in Circular Quay, Hacienda is a haven, sitting above the tourist filled boardwalk below. With picture-perfect views over the quay and of the Harbour Bridge, sit back for an afternoon drink and watch the ferries drift by with a tropical cocktail in hand and a bite to eat from their Cuban inspired menu - the Civiche Oysters were my favourite.

Find it here: 61 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

Uncle Ming’s
For a swing of Shanghai in Sydney head to Uncle Ming’s post haste. The story goes that Uncle Ming was a notorious crime figure in Shanghai - a policeman who collected protection money from the local opium traders, who later left for Sydney and set up shop in the 1920’s. The bar, like most of the underground bars through Sydney, is dimly lit, tightly packed and is very discreet from the street. Down a flight of stairs and you will be forgiven for thinking you are about to walk into a suit shop, through the tunnel you will find this little piece of China on York Street. Inspired by an opium den meets a downtown Shanghai bar, Uncle Ming’s is intimate with moody red lighting and cosy nooks to huddle in. From the cocktail menu, my favourites were the Stormy in Saigon and the Empire’s Sun. I love the complimentary snow pea crisps they serve with the drinks, but don’t miss out on ordering a selection of their dumplings (and my favourite – the BBQ Pork Bun). Don’t miss a trip to the bathroom, a quirky little surprise in there is a tape playing language lessons of how to say bizarre and un-useful phrases in Chinese.

Find it here: 55 York St, Sydney NSW 2000

Lobo Plantation
For lovers of rum and/or the Caribbean, this is your bar. Hidden behind an unsuspecting and unmarked archway on Clarence Street, this secretive bar is in the basement of an office block, right in the middle of the CBD. Named after Julio Lobo, who was a Cuban sugar tycoon through to the late 1960’s, stepping in is like stepping back in time and hanging out in Julio’s Cuban hideout. It’s dimly lit with a homely, nostalgic and old worldly feel. Housing over 250 kinds of rum, you will have no shortage of drinks to try from their impressive cocktail menu. I had the Jurassic Juice, which came with its own miniature Dinosaur.

Find it here: 1/209 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000

The Baxter Inn
In true ‘cool underground bar’ style The Baxter Inn isn’t easy to find on your first time, and if you aren’t looking for it you probably wouldn’t even know it was there. Hidden in a basement of a building at the back of an unmarked alley off Clarence Street, this old-school whisky bar is well known amongst the locals and you will be hard-pressed to find a Sydneysider who hasn’t heard of it. In its relatively dark and small space, it feels intimate and on a Friday or Saturday night, it can be quite tightly packed. Think drinking den meets speakeasy meets a whisky drinker’s heaven. With more than 800 whiskies on offer, the bartenders here know a thing or two about how to mix a drink – and they are just as happy to mix something non-whisky based from the cocktail menu too. 

Find it here: 152-156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000

Hotel Palisade
Built back in 1915, as a pub for the port workers and residents of Millers Point, the Hotel Palisade has seen its fair share of action over the last 100+ years. Fast forward to today and it has had a full renovation with the ground floor remaining as a quintessential Sydney pub whilst the top two floors have been converted into a rooftop bar called Henry Deane, complete with stunning views of the Harbour Bridge and the Rocks. I love this bar as it is a perfect mix of old and new, and a true gem within The Rocks area. Whether you are in the mood for an easy, casual afternoon drink at the pub or something a little more up and happening, Hotel Palisade has the best of both worlds.

Find it here: 35 Bettington St, Millers Point NSW 2000