Cocktails aren’t just for sipping poolside. In fact, Sydney is heaving with basement bars and lovingly crafted libations that can turn any Saturday night around. So, in honour of World Cocktail Day (it’s today, ICYMI), we feel it is our duty round up the best of the bunch, so you can discover the best cocktails Sydney has on offer. You can thank us later.
Aurora cocktail at Blu Bar
Gather ‘round, cocktail connoisseurs because it is time to sip on summer-in-a-glass Aurora, which is a mix of gin, apricot liqueur, mixed berry syrup, lemon and pineapple juice topped with delicate rhubarb and berry espuma foam. It’s from the new Liquid Physics range at Blu Bar, located on level 36 of the Shangri-la hotel. Cocktails with a view? Yes please.
Highland Tai at J&M
The Highland Tai at J&M is all kinds of yes, with Aberlour 12yo Laphroiag 10yo, apricot brandy, oloroso, lemon, bitters and orgeat syrup shaken up in a Boston shaker. Served over ice and finished with an apricot leather roll up.
Smokey Rob Roy at Eau de Vie
The Smokey Rob Roy is Eau de Vie owner, Sven Almenning’s signature drink for a reason. The reason being that they do it well. Very well. A fierce mix of Talisker and highland whiskies, cigar infused Zacapa run, vermouth and orange bitters, it is then served under a cloud of wood smoke.
Rise & Shine at This Must Be The Place
Oh, this most certainly is the place. The place for a goooood cocktail. After winning three World Class Bartender of the Year Awards (most recently last month), we are confident that you won’t be disappointed. We want five of the Rise & Shine cocktails (toasted oats, Johnnie Walker Black, honey, oat milk and hazelnut oil). It’s practically a nutritious breakfast.
Fog Horn Leg Horn at Ramblin' Rascal Tavern
The entrance may be difficult to find, but once you step inside this basement bar, you won’t be leaving until you have polished off a Fog Horn Leg Horn courtesy of a bearded man behind the bar. It is a bold mix of Lot 40, fried chicken fat washed infused cognac (yes, you read that right), pink peppercorn syrup and pimento bitters. It's only available for a limited time, so get on it!
A Gin and Tonic at Bar Brosé
For a subtle (and delicious) Australian twist on the classic G&T, Bar Brosé adds lemon myrtle to Four Pillars gin, Fentimans tonic and orange peel.
Salted Caramel Espresso Martini at Della Hyde
Salted caramel is always a good idea. Actually, so is coffee, now that I think of it. Naturally The Hyde Espresso is as good as you would expect, with vodka, espresso, salted caramel, espresso liqueur and honeycomb all shaken up.
Royal Mistress at The Rook
The spicy Royal Mistress at rooftop bar and eatery, The Rook is for the adventurous soul. This is not for the faint hearted, with chipotle infused Tanqueray gin, Don Julio blanco tequila, lemon, agave and maraschino giving a kick start to your evening. Literally.
Sake, Sake! at Daniel San
A drink so great that it needed two names; The Sake, Sake! combines the subtlety of sake with Gordon’s Gin and sweet, juicy passionfruit, served in a sugar rimmed glass.
Moshi Moshi #1 at Goros
Things have changed since the wild Midori days of your youth. What was once a humble Midori pineapple is now the Moshi Moshi #1. It’s a change for the better; tropical mix of Midori, kiwifruit, pineapple, lime, lemonade and lychee popping pearls.
Black Star Martini at Tokyo Bird
The Black Star Martini at Japanese small bar, Tokyo Bird is basically a fruit salad. Combining gin, Aperol, lime, watermelon, rose and strawberry foam and pistachio crumble. We’ll take three.
Seasonal Sgroppino Gardel's Bar
Classic cocktails are king at Gardel’s. Incorporating modern flavours, the Seasonal Sgroppino is both simple and elegant. With only three ingredients (vodka, seasonal fruit sorbet and sparkline wine) this cocktail is beautifully feminine, even after your third glass.
Meadevil Mule at The Powder Keg
At the top of their ‘Light & Easy’ list, the Meadevil Mule is delightfully complex and the perfect foray into the world of bourbon. Bourbon, honey mead, pressed apple, sea salt and ginger beer is served over crushed ice and topped with candied ginger, apple and bourbon drizzle.
Rosie’s Coco Coladas at Rosie Campbell’s
They say ‘Everything’s Rosier with Rum!’ and who are we to argue? Go for the Rosie’s Coco Coladas (Pimento infused dark rum with pineapple, coco lopez, sugarcane, lime and banana). It’s served in a coconut—do you really need any more details?
Squashed for Thyme at Lobo Plantation
For the discerning drinker, we’ll throw you a ‘healthier’ cocktail option. The Squashed for Thyme cocktail at Lobo has a cute name and modest sugar content and features their very own ‘Lobo’s pumpkin lemonade’.
Gin ‘n’ Juice at Bulletin Place
Winning nine awards since 2013, Bulletin Place certainly has some street cred around Sydney. The list changes frequently but always maintains their signature ‘keep it simple stupid’ approach. Worth a mention is their Gin ‘n’ Juice—a clever mix of gin, quince and granny smith apple.
The Continental liquid nitrogen cocktail at The Roosevelt
Stepping into The Roosevelt will transport you to 1950’s New York and The Continental cocktail definitely delivers the expected glamour. Big time. For some theatre, they throw this vodka and gin martini with liquid nitrogen before presenting you with the glowing, foggy glass.
Citrus Shack at Grain Bar
Summer may be over, but it’s always a good time for Pimms. Tinkering with the classic cocktail, we think Grain Bar has nailed it; mixing Ketel One vodka with Pimms and ginger, they then top it off with apple cider for the ultimate fruity bevvie.
Jimmy Chew at Opera Bar
Sydney institution Opera Bar is on to a good thing with their Jimmy Chew cocktail. It may not be a beautiful pair of shoes, but we won’t complain if someone shouts us a glass of the good stuff (Absolut vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lychee, strawberries and cloudy apple juice). Hello Friday!
Firm believers in celebrating any old thang, Crooked Tailor have a penchant for sticking sparklers into their cocktails and we aren’t complaining. Grab the Brosé Spritz for a light Friday night. It’s a big glass of rosé, gin, sherry, prosecco and orange blossom.
Looking for more draaanks? Search our Directory for the best bars in Sydney.
Image credit: Federica Portentoso at Ramblin Rascal Tavern