Summer in Sydney. You just can’t beat it, can you? And after what seems like the longest winter on record, we’re more than ready to start filling up our diaries with plenty of warm weather excursions to some of the best bars in Sydney.
Of course, there’ll be the obligatory beach days, plenty of slip, slop, slapping and healthy outdoor activities… but with the recent onslaught of rooftop bars and beer gardens popping up in and around Sydney, it only seems fair that we give some serious thought as to where we’ll be quenching our thirsts over the coming hot and hazy months.
The Bucket List
Where better to celebrate the sunny season than looking out onto one of the world’s most famous beaches? Spilling out from Bondi Pavilion, The Bucket List draws in the warm weather crowds like a magnet thanks to its mouth-watering cocktail jugs, beach party atmosphere and money-can’t-buy view across Bondi Beach. Initially opened as a temporary pop-up, the open-air bar has certainly proved its staying power and is known for its legendary Sunday sessions. So shake the sand from your hair, grab a picnic table and lose yourself in the summertime vibes.
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel
If you’re looking for a spot that epitomises Sydney summer good times, you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere more fitting than Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel. Decked out in fun, nautical décor, it’s best to arrive early to beat the crowds, then pull up a bench and drink in picturesque views of the pretty bay and Sydney’s jaw dropping skyline. Although there are a number of bar areas to choose from, the hotel’s jewel is its outdoor Beach Club, specialising in Australian wines, local beers, and of course, dreamy summer cocktails.
Beachside watering hole The Collaroy has undergone something of a transformation of late, boasting a refurbished bar and dining area that is proving a hit with both locals and visitors alike. Colourful, quirky interiors and surf lifesaving team memorabilia pay homage to the area’s nautical history, giving the place a maritime vibe that is complemented by a menu of tasty seafood dishes and ocean views. Choose from an extensive drinks list, including 14 beers on tap, and homemade syrups mixed with Ketel One Vodka—ask behind the bar for their latest tantalising creations.
The Greens North Sydney
It’s fair to say North Sydney has been lacking somewhat in summer time drinking options, but that’s all set to change with The Greens. Showing off unprecedented views of the harbour, the former Norths Bowlo brings a slice of hip to the area with delicious dishes, an impressive drinks list, and plentiful activities all summer long. Zesty cocktails are garnished with produce from the onsite veggie patch, and higgledy-piggledy tables are set out on a sundrenched lawn where you can kick off your shoes for a game of barefoot bowls, or dust off the cobwebs with an invigorating weekend yoga session. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events—it seems there’s never a dull moment at The Greens.
It’s not often a Sydney restaurant and bar is able to boast a 124-year history, which is just one of the things that makes Sydney Flying Squadron Sailing Club’s new eatery, Foys Kirribilli, so darned special. Tastefully decorated in a clean, minimalist style showcasing club memorabilia through the years, the restaurant is situated upstairs, looking out across an exquisite waterfront vista. Pop open a bottle of bubbles, then relax in the open air seating and watch the boats moor up at the club’s front door, right on the water’s edge. With the Flying Bear café opening on the lower floor in just a few weeks, this is set to soon become a place you’ll find us loitering about this summer.
Nothing says street cred quite like a custom created artwork by one of Sydney’s most prolific graffiti artists in your stairwell, and with a stamp of approval from Anthony Lister, Taylor’s looks to be onto a winner. Offering a picture-perfect escape from the urban jungle of Sydney’s CBD, there’s comfortable booths downstairs and even more enticing couches up on the rooftop, where a giant copper beer keg hangs from the ceiling. Quench your thirst with local and international beers, wines and botanical cocktails as you take in Sydney’s sparkling skyline. With plentiful foliage and a backyard vibe, plus weekly live performances from local and international bands, you may have just discovered your new favourite post-work hang out.
Daniel San’s Beachside Dojo
Retro rock and roll meets laid back coastal vibes at Manly’s buzzing ‘Beachside Dojo'. Translated from the Japanese term for ‘meeting place’, the grown-up’s playground leaves formality at the door with its fun, eclectic set up. The Beachside Dojo upstairs transforms every Sunday for sunset beats overlooking the beach, fondly known as Sunday Sundowners. The rest of the week, the downstairs bar is packed with old-school pinball machines and pink neon ceilings, whilst sweeping views of the Manly shorefront cement its status as the ultimate summer drinking destination. Start with a stop at the sake bar, then wash it all down with a beer slushy or two. Feeling peckish? Order the house signature Sashimi Boat—ideal for sharing and served in wacky giant wooden boats, it’s guaranteed to turn a few curious heads!
No visit to Sydney is complete without a trip to the city’s iconic Opera Bar. Situated a stone’s throw from the Opera House, this bar in Sydney remains incredibly popular with both out of towners and locals alike, perhaps even more so following an extensive refurbishment at the end of last year. Uninterrupted views of the water and harbour bridge coupled with fruity cocktails and a menu courtesy of Matt Moran result in a Sydney experience that will stay with you long after your last sip. Once you’ve found your spot, make sure you hold onto it, and don’t leave without trying signature cocktail the ‘Sydney Sling’, a delectable blend of West Winds Sabre Gin, pomegranate, fresh lime, mint and bitters, finished with a dash of soda.
Zanzibar’s new rooftop offers a surprisingly chilled out retreat away from the hustle and bustle of Kings Street. The cherry on top of the three floored sprawling bar, this long-standing venue remains a favourite amongst the quirky characters of Newtown thanks to its easy going vibe and affordable prices. Still managing to retain a classic pub feel with a dash of 1950s kitsch thrown in for good measure, here’s where to line your stomach with pub favourites such as fried mac and cheese, then settle in for an afternoon of putting the world to rights as you sink a few cold ones in the sunshine.
It’s easy to see why The Oaks is something of an institution in the Lower North Shore. The gorgeous pub has been around since 1885 and is still as much-loved as ever, with a reputation for great food and drinks, a relaxed atmosphere, and an excellent selection of local craft beers from the likes of Lord Nelson and 4 Pines. A standout feature is, of course, its namesake—the majestic oak tree that towers over the beer garden, creating a twinkling, fairly lit awning that makes for a welcome respite from the midday sun. The latest addition to the pub is the Garden Pavilion, which brings the outdoors in with floor to ceiling glass windows, cane furnishings and an abundance of greenery—perfect for those days when the Sydney weather just isn’t playing ball!
If you like your summer soirees with a side of class, The Butler in Potts Point is the place for you. Classic French-Caribbean food and elegant cocktails are served up in a stylish setting, opening out onto a dazzling patio bar with awe-inspiring views of the city’s horizon. An idyllic spot for long lazy lunches that last well past sunset, the wine list in particular is a standout, with a well-chosen selection of both Australian and French varieties. Polish off your visit with one of their sure-to-impress espresso martinis. There’s three to choose from, but we can’t go past their cinnamon and cognac blend—it’s a knock out.
Bar At The End Of The Wharf
Whether you’re catching a show or simply kicking back on a summer’s day, you can’t help but feel just that little bit more cultured when sipping on a biodynamic rosé at Sydney Theatre Company’s ‘Bar At The End Of The Wharf’. More than just a pre-theatre drinking destination, the venue’s sun dappled balcony, replete with deep seated outdoor couches, makes for a splendid spot to enjoy a few afternoon drinks as you gaze out across the harbour, whilst mismatched décor creates an atmosphere that is both laid back and inviting. Cocktails are cutely named after famous plays, and light bites come in the form of share plates—the ideal accompaniment to an afternoon of seasonal indulgence.
Offering a welcome escape from the madness of the hectic city below it, the vibe at the Ivy Pool is still glitzy, although this summer sees the venue adopt a slightly more sophisticated approach, influenced by the glamourous Italian Riviera. Dip your toes in the water or simply recline poolside as you and pour another glass of chilled pinot grigio and help yourself to a slice of Vicenzo’s famous woodfire pizzas, then cool off under the shade of a private cabana before dancing the night away to the sounds of the Ivy’s resident DJs.
It has been said that reinvention is the key to success, and if that’s the case then The Sheaf may be onto something. Following an overhaul earlier this year, the ground floor of the classic Double Bay pub has been transformed once again into the newly christened Garden Bar; an airy yet intimate oasis enhanced by pretty finishing touches and lush greenery. With a drinks list specially crafted by Head Mixologist Jeremy Shipley, you’ll no doubt be intrigued by out-of-the-box concoctions such as the Popcorn Paloma, a blend of popcorn infused tequila with lime, vanilla and grapefruit soda, topped off with a sprinkle of caramel popcorn. From Thursday to Saturday The Canopy upstairs also opens for bespoke gin and tonic crafting. Happy experimenting!
Image credit: Daniel San