Look, we’re a sucker for anything secret or remotely hidden and so are you (you know it’s true). So, to save you some time from crawling up and down (and sometimes under) the streets of Sydney, we thought we’d do the hard work for you. Afterall, that’s what we’re here for.
Score some brownie points with hidden date spots, hit up a rooftop bar with some cheeky views of the (just quietly) best harbour harbour in the world, sneak underground to down all the whiskey and (don’t judge) casually walk into a Hip Hop bar… located in a carpark. That’s right, no part of Sydney is off limits when it comes to fitting in these glorious water holes.
Here are 18 of the best secret bars in Sydney!
Love, Tilly Devine
It’s the secret neighbourhood wine bar that’s always been hangin’ out on Crown Lane (just behind the foodie heavy-weight Crown Street) and we promise you’re going to love the wine list studded with 300 different drops. But what this little timber shoebox lacks in size, it most definitely makes up for in a constantly changing Euro menu with all the curing, preserving, grilling and pickling.
Balgowlah Wine Room and Bar
Because we all needed another speakeasy-style wine room (but seriously, we love them). Cue fine wines, fireplaces, leather chairs, wooden floors, barrel tables and share platters you won’t really want to share. And P.S. you’ll want to hit up the chargrilled Ciabatta and a plate of sizzling garlic prawns. P.P.S because it's hanging out in such an unlikely spot, this one is automatically one of Sydney's most hidden bars.
Blind Bear Saloon
For an all time epic booze-filled affair, head to the 1920s themed Blind Bear Saloon, stocked with all the craft beer ever (really) and its suitable match—southern eats. Load up on a glorious bucket of wings and wash it all down with one (or two) of their 100 whiskies.
Head on over to Horwood Place and (naturally) right in the city centre car park, you’ll stumble across Uncle Kurts—the epic lil’ secret New York-style dive bar pumping Hip Hop beats that we’ve come to fall in love with. And it’s really not that hard when they’re churning out double smoked hotdogs and chipotle infused bourbon with rye, whisky, sherry and thyme syrup. Really not hard at all.
Just think all the most beautiful cocktails ever. And at PS40, to help you out, you’ll want to head on over to King Street and take a dodgy turn into a little alley known as Skittle Lane. Honestly, you’ll be like a kid in a candy store with this one (get your phones out children, these ones are good enough to ‘gram).
Queen’s Hotel is calling your name but you’ll have to take on a few more flights of stairs to make it to the dark little nook, Zebra Bar. The food menu at this hidden bar is a wonderful assortment of all the best beer and cocktail snacks ever with salt and pepper squid, dumplings, Kung pao chicken wings and spring rolls all making an appearance.
An oldie but nonetheless a goldie. Button Bar hosts all the gritty feels of how you’ve always imagined a pirate-themed watering hole to be. Nothing marks this locale (hint: it’s at the end of Foveaux Street) so you’re going to have to use all your brain power to make it to the karaoke-inspired bevvy packed in a mug with Texan corn vodka, apricot brandy, lemongrass and topped with a housemade green tea soda.
The team at Corridor have a thing for cocktails (they’re borderline obsessed) so our one piece of advice here—go all out. How can you say no to cocktails named the Nikki Webster and Purple Rain anyway? You can’t. This hidden little hole in the wall is still a major kicker with vintage decor for days and a bar staff to boot.
At first glance, it doesn’t look like there’s much to Ugly Pizza (other than deliciously ugly pizza) but should you go behind apparent freezer doors, you’ll find the ultimate secret sports bar, Huxley’s. The stand out pub grub feed is something else (ribs, hot dogs and burgers) and if you’ve kind of got a sweet tooth going on then we suggest the Oreo and co. Baileys, Butterscotch schnapps, Patron topped with milk, whipped cream and naturally, Oreos.
Earl’s Juke Joint
Behind the old and worn facade of Betta Meats, you’ll find Earl’s Juke Joint. Just so you know, they still play the best tunes deep into the night—oh yeah, it’s still an absolute banger of a place to hit up. You’ll find a heap of wines and the beer mix contains the likes of Young Henrys and Samuel Smith.
We’re all about a secret rooftop bar so naturally, Taylor’s is going to make the cut. Located above Sydney’s Tank Stream Way (home to Mr. Wong and Palmer & Co.) this late night watering hole is boasting chilled vibes and features some lil’ glimpses of the harbour bridge.
Small Bar Erskine Street
This rustic (literal) Small Bar is the unassuming hole in the wall that actually fits 120 people. Basically, this one should be on your hit list for after-work shenanigans. Think wine, boutique beer, tapas style dishes and a pulled pork sandwich worth all the juicy calories.
Night or day, the hidden (and fully enclosed) rooftop bar at The Rook is one of the best places to go to get your drink on. With a glass ceiling studded with bulbs, hanging plants, neon lights and all the bric-a-brac ever, you’ll score yourself a pretty secluded view of Sydney’s corporate sky-erarchy. Much of the drinks are interactive AF (so the kidult within will have a ball) and there’s a super pretty purple one you need to get on, STAT.
Ramblin' Rascal Tavern
Trust us, the hunt for the Ramblin’ Rascal entrance is well worth it when whisky and a cognac collection are on the line. This underground den boasts a snug bar lined with leather booths and one heck of a crowd.
Papa Gede’s Bar
Never short of a perfect tiki-inspired cocktail bar, Papa Gede’s Bar is the tropical hangout on Kent Street that hosts an absinthe tap. Yes it’s tall and made of glass and it’s as majestic as you want it to be. Let’s be honest, Papa Gede’s Bar has got a lot of good things going for it but we’re blatantly obsessed with the absinthe tap (we mentioned that, right?).
The Baxter Inn
The Baxter Inn lies beneath an alleyway just off Clarence Street but you’ll be hardpressed to find someone who doesn’t know about this legendary old-school whisky bar. In true speakeasy fashion, it's well-hidden, the liquor collection is a dream and staple cocktails are on point.
We all know that basement bars are the epitome of fun and we guarantee you’ll be a sucker for the quirky atmosphere at Stitch. Yep, the whispers are true, this one has an entrance that is anything but the obvious bar front—try the facade of a sewing shop (way to make it easy for us, guys). You’ll have all the grub on hand in this 1920s themed space and the legendary bar staff whip up some serious #cocktailgoals like the fluffy Britannica decked out with Bombay Gin, Aperol, garden syrup and tonic.
Ticking off another hidden laneway bar, Grasshopper is vexed with a cheeky combo of Kung-Fu and cocktails. For starters, the walls are decorated with Karate Kid posters and there’s a collection of vinyl and black and white TVs. And yes, the teddy bear jars are has good as everyone says they are.
Just looking for a rooftop bar? Read this.
Taylor's Rooftop | Image credit: Carla Dibbs