There's no question: 2022 was the year of the signature drink in Sydney. Be it martinis, Negronis or fragrant sake, Sydney now has a bar dedicated to it, found in world-class hotels, squeezed into 11-seat suburban spots, or under the watchful eyes of a giant golden prawn (yep...).
Feel like a drink? These are Sydney's best new bars to open in 2022.
Perhaps the drink of 2022 (sorry, Negroni sbagliato), martinis well and truly had a resurgence thanks, in no small part, to the launch of Bar Planet. A theatrical and stylish spot dedicated to the booze-on-booze combo, Bar Planet is by the team behind late-night staples Cantina OK!, Tio's and The Cliff Dive. Expect a funky "twisted bistro" experience with psychedelic decor including a galactic terrazzo bartop featuring jade, marble and vintage French glass.
Lobby Bar At Ace Hotel
If in doubt, head to a hotel bar. The Lobby Bar at the Ace Hotel takes the formula and makes it effortlessly cool, with an array of seating configurations to settle into, a cocktail list with tempting twists on classics, and wines selected by Mike Bennie from P&V Wine + Liquor Merchants. Drop in for a knockoff, or whet the appetite with small snacks before heading to the Ace's Loam or Kiln restaurants.
Get Ante on your list for date night. This sake bar-slash-vinyl listening room in Newtown is a sophisticated and energetic spot serving 60+ sakes from all over Japan alongside an innovative menu of small snacks, larger plates, and desserts. There are various other drinks on offer, but you'd be crazy not to be guided by the knowledgeable staff to find your go-to sake.
The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre
Hawke's Brewing Co.'s first brick-and-mortar location opened back in March, and has served the Inner West its epic combo of cold brews, succulent Chinese meals, and good times ever since. A tribute to Aussie beer culture of the '80s, The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre is packed with memorabilia (and the largest golden prawn in the Southern Hemisphere, Shane Prawn), with ten taps pouring Hawke's core range of beers, plus limited releases. Settle in for a feed of nostalgic faves like prawn toast, sang choi bao, honey king prawns, and sizzling beef and black bean stir fry, and Bob's your uncle.
The Negroni truly is the all-occasion drink, and this lush spot in Surry Hills is completely dedicated to the perfectly balanced concoction. At Bar Conte, you'll find 20 variations on the classic, some with less common inclusions like mezcal, pinot grigio, and even chocolate liqueur. Snack on oysters with Negroni dressing (obvs), house-made focaccia, and gnocchi alla Sorrentina, and soak in the warm, vintage setting.
Sydney rediscovered Spanish flavours in 2022, and Bar Louise (in the charming former Marie-Louise Salon site on Enmore Road) more than stepped up to the table to deliver. Here, sip on house sangria (nothing like your memories of a sweet, warm mystery mix), Spanish vermouth or wine from the lively list, and work your way through the menu of tapas including the requisite conservas, and larger plates divided into 'vegetables', 'seafood', and 'meat'.
Could we say 2022 was the year that Sydney fell in love with sake? If you're keen to continue your journey into its delicate world, this pint-sized bar should be high on your list. Peruse the range that represents most regions of Japan (presented to you on a recycled sake bottle, naturally) and pair your selection—be it served on ice, cold or warmed up just beyond body temp—with Nomidokoro Indigo's epic izakaya snacks like fried school prawns and silky seasoned omelettes.
Neighbouring Neil Perry's awarded Margaret restaurant, Next Door is a laid-back, versatile bar open from lunchtime till late. Drop in for a top-notch cheeseburger (she's piled with a medium patty of brisket and chuck, cheese, pickles, onion, mustard and both tomato and secret sauce), or pair a wine with house-made ricotta and prosciutto on fresh bread from neighbours Baker Bleu. This is one neighbour you'll want to drop in on regularly.
BrewDog's first Sydney location is a big venue (there's room for almost 1000) with Big Beer Energy. The Scottish craft beer giant set up shop in a historic locomotive mechanic building in the South Eveleigh precinct, with 40 beers on tap including a range of BrewDog’s carbon-negative and sustainably made beers from the brand’s solar-powered brewery in Queensland.
A wine bar by one of Australia's best restaurants, Firedoor, this romantic spot has its heart in the Basque country of northern Spain. Pay Gildas a visit to sip sherry and Spanish wines alongside snacks—with three takes on the gilda, no less—before finishing with a martini and silky flan dressed with Pedro Ximenez.
Still thirsty? Check out more of Sydney's best bars here.
Image credit: Ace Hotel, Bar Planet, Ante, The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre (James Adams), Bar Conte, Bar Louise (Caroline McCredie) Nomidokoro Indigo (@tomookai), Next Door, BrewDog (Steven Woodburn), Gildas (Nikki To)