How do you like yours? With a twist? Pretentiously stirred? Or filthier than the streets of Kings Cross when it was still a thing circa 2008? Thanks to the countless kick-you-in-the-crotch-spit-on-your-neck-fantastic bars in Sydney, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to epic martinis that aren’t just a bit of cold gin or vodka and an olive. We’re talking liquid nitrogen, bartenders wearing goggles, and more specialty cocktails than you can poke a cocktail stick at.
I’m not going to mention shaken or stirred, because I think we’re better than that, so if you came here looking for a James Bond reference, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed. Oh wait...
Here are just eight of the best martinis our fair city. If you think you know better, drop us a line at 2am after you’ve had eight more, we’d loooove to hear from you, no, really.
Continental Deli & Bar
In a blend of classic cocktail finery and a touch of bogan (AKA myself in a cocktail), the martinis at Newtown’s Continental Deli & Bar are served in cans and aptly named ‘Mar-Tinnys’ (geddit?). And they’re bloody delicious; exactly what you’d expect from the guys behind Porteno. Each perfectly citrusy tipple is tinned in-house, has a few olives on side if you want some filth in your life, and they’re the perfect addition to your charcuterie plate or mortadella sandwich. Or just a pre-dinner beverage before you make your way to the table for that prawn and lamb’s brain ravioli. Martini pro tip: it looks extra good on Instagram when sat next to one of their comically large tins of sardines.
Eau De Vie
Ah, Eau De Vie, how could I forget you? You’re the one that started it all, with your theatrical cocktails and badass bartender banter. Never ones to do anything in halves, the martini at Eau De Vie comes with its own page in the menu, so you can get it so perfect it makes your eyes water. Apart from being one of the best martinis in Australia, it comes with a healthy dose of theatrics because they wouldn’t have it any other way. When a bartender has to put on goggles to serve your cocktail, you know you’re in for a good time. And as if you’d expect anything less than a reaction of ‘quick, film it!’ here.
Archie Rose Distillery
I mean, is there a better place to indulge in a martini than a bar that legitimately distills its own gin? The team at Archie Rose are literally serving you their baby, so it’s a good place to brush up on your gin knowledge and use it to impress your friends after you’ve had your third. If you’ve got the time, be sure to do a distillery tour pre-tini, it tastes that much better when you’ve learnt a thing or two about how it got into your glass.
This chic AF new Sydney restaurant made a big ol’ splash when it hit the CBD earlier this year, having critics throw their cool points out the window and bang down Hubert’s doors for a mere whiff of their chicken fricassee. But I digress, for now, it’s about their knee-slapper of a martini. As you descend the stairs to your table at Hubert, you’ll no doubt notice the walls surrounding, adorned with tiny bottles of booze. I’m pretty sure this is how they inspire you go get sat down and into the cocktails as quickly as possible, and I’m not mad. It’s up to you how you want it made, but the wise side of me says go for the classic, the bartenders know what they’re doing. The martini here is served in the most darling of etched bottles, and is comes with the classic garnishes on the side, so you won’t feel weird asking for extra.
Moya's Juniper Lounge
If there’s one thing we can all unite on, it’s a place that does gin, and does it really, really well. That’s Redfern bar Moya’s Juniper Lounge, by the way. Where your martini will always be eye-rollingly good and there’s always something new to try. Settle in at the bar and get quizzical with the bartender while you decide which gin should deserve to end up in your glass. In theory, that’s all of them, but in this case you should definitely apply Pokemon logic and try ‘em all.
Do you even Roosevelt? If you don’t, or haven’t, then you really need to get your tush down to this hidden bar in Potts Point ASAP. Another leader in the cocktail theatrics department, these guys frequently take out coveted cocktail competitions and it’s pretty obvious why once a sip of their award-winning Continental passes your lips. If you want to get technical, it’s not a traditional martini (in that it contains gin, vodka, Cocchi Americano and yellow Chartreuse), but it won an award at Diageo World Class a few years ago, so you know it’s worth your energy. Of course, if you’re a little more stuck in your ways, the classic will always be available.
Remember when a hotel bar meant questionable peanuts, lots of pilots, and just a hint of desperate loneliness? Or was that just me? Either way, the above is no longer an issue thanks to Stillery gin bar at The InterContinental Double Bay. It’s the kind of place you just want to dress up for, with its plush seating and general vibe of effortless cool that pretty much comes as a given in Double Bay. Their martini is everything you’d expect from a specialty gin bar, and plenty more.
The Barber Shop
This one’s for the boys with the short back and sides, who enjoyed their shearing so much that they decided to celebrate with a casual cocktail. Or the rest of the non-penised population that just like to get their draaank on, there’s no discriminating here: just really, really bloody awesome cocktails. If some of the others in this list intimidated you with their sheer detail, you’ll be glad to know that CBD bar The Barbershop keep their martinis simple, with nothing but quality spirits and some of the finest cocktail slingers in the biz. Get up close and personal with them and expand your spirit knowledge.
More of a DIY person?
Don’t panic, friend, here’s the perfect Grey Goose martini for, well… Mondays.
- 50 ml Grey Goose vodka
- 10 ml chilled Noilly Pratt dry vermouth
- 1 dash of orange bitters
- Combine ingredients in boston shaker and stir slowly and deliberately for 30 seconds. Strain with a julep strainer into a well-chilled martini glass. Present with garnish of your choice.
Still thirsty? Head to our Bars and Pubs section for more libations.
Image credit: Lindsay Upson