Sydney’s Best Hidden Bars
Hard to find but easy to love: the best hidden bars and speakeasies in Sydney.
Prohibition days might be long behind us but knocking on the door of a speakeasy and secret hidden bar still gives us quite a thrill.
So skip the happy hour at your local and head to these character-filled watering holes are scattered throughout Sydney’s bar scene, each with a line-up of terrific concoctions and cosy fit outs. From barbershops to grandma-inspired bars, here are the best hidden bars Sydney has to offer.
If you’ve ever walked through Martin Place and seen a red neon sign reading psychic out of the corner of your eye, you might have unknowingly walked past one of Sydney’s coolest late night haunts. When you walk down the stairs towards you can either turn left to consult a tarot card reader or right to head into the luxe Employees Only. Employees Only Sydney is the first Australian branch of the famous New York speakeasy which helped kickstart the craft cocktail revolution. With a 1920s, neo-prohibitionist feel, employees only has everything from a delicious dinner menu to a twice nightly bar-top burlesque performance. This really is one you need to check out for yourself.
9A Barrack Street, Martin Place, Sydney CBD
102 steps up (don’t worry there’s a lift!) from the hustle and bustle of busy Clarence Street, you’ll find Old Mate’s Place. A relaxed casual rooftop where you can settle in with a cocktail from masterful minds of Dre Walters and Daniel Noble (Kittyhawk, Lobo Plantation & Ramblin’ Rascal). With brown leather booths, bookcases and greenery climbing from floor to ceiling along with a wrap-around view of the city skyscrapers, this Sydney hidden bar is one of our favourite spots in the entire city.
Level 4, 199 Clarence Street Sydney
Howdy partner! Don’t judge this bar by it’s entry, down a laneway next to a yoga studio, you’ll find a bouncer guarding a metal door, inside you’ll find a wonderland of taxidermy animals, fairy lights – it’s pure wild west whimsy! With cocktails and impeccable vibes, add it to your list!
Shop 4, 256 Crown Street Darlinghurst
A self-described micro-mezcal Mecca, Cantina OK! is a the epitome of a Sydney small bar. In fact were willing to dub Cantina OK! the smallest of small bars, built atop of a disused car space. Stocked with small batch wonders from handmade agave and tequila, their world famous margaritas and classic cocktails are made with hand-shaved ice and hand-pressed limes. Down a quirky laneway – eat your heart out Melbourne! – and just one car wide, just big enough for two bartenders this is the perfect place for an evening tipple.
Council Place, Sydney
Are there any five words more enticing than ‘enter through the sandwich shop’? La Farmacia, located behind Mrs Palmer Sandwiches, is a delicious Mexican restaurants and margarita bar. Moody and atmospheric but with a heavy helping of coloured string lights, this is the perfect spot for your next marg. Think classic, Tommy’s and spicy margaritas as well as a series of fruity and botanical drinks that will seriously knock your socks off.
81 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst
Make your way through a functioning retro barber shop to this hidden watering hole, where impressive cocktails, an extensive wine list and craft beers await. South Australian and French drops dominate the wine menu while Young Henry’s and Little Creatures keep craft beer lovers content. Pop in for a low-key drink, or a chop - or both. We recommend chop first, sip later.
89 York Street, Sydney
Named after the nightclub in Patrick Swayze’s 1989 cult classic Road House, Double Deuce Lounge is a Sydney hidden bar decked out with a 70s-porno-chic interior. Wood panelling, leather booths, VCR boxes… this is the place to come to for a good time. The team behind Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern and a team of legendary mix-masters are behind the bar slinging delicious and creative drinks from the full bush, made with Maker’s Mark, yuzu, grapefruit and maple and the cold brew, tequila concoction called discretionary.
6 Bridge Street, Sydney
Enter through the fridge… this underground speakeasy with a slightly-Spanish twist. Hidden behind the fridge door of a chic but unassuming bodega, this basement bar is known for serving up everything from whisky to natural wines and cocktails inspired by prohibition classics. Settle in for a cosy cocktail or three in a leather booth.
17-19 Central Avenue, Manly
Ever wanted to have a cocktail that tastes like your childhood summer vacation? How about a spicy marg inspired by the last season on Game of Thrones? At The Long Goodbye, your only limit is your imagination. Up a short flight of stairs from the busy and buzzy Stanley Street, you’ll find one of our favourite hidden bars, the moody and intimate Long Goodbye. Walk up to one of the skilled bartender, tell them a flavour you like and describe anything from and they’ll make you a drink inspired by that story, emotion or anecdote. Truly one of the most fun experiences you can have at a bar.
1/83 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst
It’s unlikely you’ll stumble across PS40 accidentally, but it’s worth the search. In-house sodas are created with staples like smoked lemonade, bush tonic and blackstrap ginger. The chic and light-filled bar features a rotating list of 10 cocktails, which are the drawcard, and the food menu is designed to complement the drinks with crowd pleasers like charcuterie, pates and pickles.
2/40 King Street, Sydney
Not only one of the best hidden bars in Sydney but one of our favourite spots for late night dumplings. With plenty of dark corners and a uber cool interior, it’s the perfect date spot or afterwork hideout! Make sure you grab yourself a mug of their fresh apple juice and whisky – trust us, it’s an absolute game changer.
Basement, 49 York Street, Sydney
With the interiors of a cosy underground bar, The Rook sits high on 56 York Street’s seventh floor. A bar that is full of juxtapositions, The Rook caters to both suits sipping champagne and hipsters drinking ciders. American-style burgers and generous salads sit alongside meals for those feeling fancy (order The Big Lobster). A casual post-work drink or character-filled date night is found here.
Level 7, 56-58 York Street, Sydney
A watering hole that feels very much like Grandma’s home, just with more rum than usual. The kitsch venue, hidden down the stairs of a brick building offers a small beer and wine list with cocktails (mostly rum based) as the main player. The only thing rivalling the liquor concoctions are the jaffles, so make Grandma proud and order one. Plus, there's Werther's in the bathroom which would truly make Grandma proud!
275 Clarence Street, Sydney
With a hint of Melbournian magic, this lovely little wine bar is tucked down a non-descript Darlinghurst has become a much-loved watering hole and one of our all-time favourite wine bars. Arrive early and secure a spot in the window, order a pét nat, pinot or a natural wine from some of the best up and coming local winemakers and enjoy a side of people watching. On the food front, Love, Tilly Devine is currently serving up a $60 set menu that includes Fabbrica focaccia, pasta, salads and – our personal favourite – the delicious, mouth watering, Starward whisky crème caramel.
91 Crown Lane, Darlinghurst
In the basement of a building in an unmarked alleyway, The Baxter Inn knows how to make you work for it! Once you head down the stairs into the basement bar you’re greeted by a generous wall of whisky. Drink it neat or order a cocktail from one of the cities skilled mixologists. If you’re a true whisky connoisseur then you should pop into their whisky room lined with barrels and delicious drinkable treats.
Basement, 152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney
Sewing machines and thread spools line the bar here. A constantly rotating cocktail menu is the star, with an impressive whisky collection sitting behind the bar. An Old Fashioned and Manhattan come highly recommended, and if you avoid ordering a snack, well, we’d be disappointed. Settle into a booth and devour American-style dishes of pork crackle and mac’n’cheese.
61 York Street, Sydney
Don’t let Betta Meats throw you off guard. Earl’s Juke Joint took over the former butcher’s years ago. Inspired by juke joints in America’s Deep South, Earl’s walls are lined with blues legends and the cocktails are dominated with bourbon and rum. Our recommendation? Order the Espresso Diabolique of bourbon, espresso and chocolate. It’s so popular it’s served on tap.
407 King Street, Newtown
Loved discovering secret Sydney spots with our guide to the best hidden bars in Sydney? Plan another unique tipple with the best underground bars in Sydney and the best Sydney rooftop bars with stunning views or, if you're looking for a mellow drop or two why not check out Sydney's finest wine bars.
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