Bars & Pubs

The Best Secret Bars in Sydney’s CBD

By Lauren Hunter
11th Aug 2015

The CBD used to be known for its suits, not-so-great after work drinking spots, sad desk lunches, and questionable coffee joints. Fortunately, for CBD workers, things are a-changin’. This part of town now has great coffee, lunch options, and even some of the best bars in Sydney. We’ve ventured into basements, onto rooftops and down alleyways to find some of the best. After work drinks, anyone? 


In a secluded, rooftop sanctuary, perched above Sydney’s Tank Stream Way (also home to Mr. Wong and Palmer & Co.) is Taylor’s, a late night drinking haven for those looking for some peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of the CBD. This inner-city retreat boasts memorable views of the city skyline as well as a few cheeky glimpses of the harbour bridge. Relax along the green wall with a botanical cocktail in hand, choose something delicious from the modern bar menu, and breathe easy knowing you’re safe and sound, high above that city ruckus down below. 

Small Bar Erskine Street

For a tiny bar tucked away on Sydney’s Erskine Street, Small Bar promises big things and then, of course, delivers. This rustic, dimly-lit hidey-hole can actually seat 120 patrons, who flock to Small Bar when the clock strikes 5pm for a glass of wine or a boutique beer and a range of tapas style dishes to satisfy hungry bellies. Think porcini mushroom and parmesan arancini, chilli lemon and parsley fried squid or a good old pulled pork sandwich. Add this one to the after-work drinks checklist, stat.

The Rook

Finding The Rook can be a challenge, but when you do find yourself on the seventh floor of this nondescript York Street building, you will be greeted with much deliciousness. Satisfying hungry-thirsty revellers is the name of the game at this Sydney bar and they do it so well with wagyu burgers, a lobster banquet, and cocktails galore. Behind the bar you’ll find a couple of pro-bartenders whipping up some devilishly delicious twists on the classics. Keep in mind, this bar won’t be hush hush for too much longer. Go test out the menu before it sheds its secret status.

Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern

You might get lost hunting for the entrance to this underground drinking den (black door and three painted skulls) boasting a majestic whisky and cognac collection and tales of good, debaucherous fun. Inside you’ll find a snug and intimate bar, leather booths and a happy go-lucky crowd with lots of fun to be had. Just make sure there’s enough battery on your phone to direct you to Ramblin' Rascal

Papa Gede’s

Injecting a little bit of Haiti into the sea of city-slicker black and white, Papa Gede’s on Kent Street serves up a smorgasboard of tiki-inspired cocktails and homemade elixirs as well as plenty of funk, soul, and reggae to keep your head bopping all night. In terms of cocktails you’ll certainly be spoilt for choice—we love the Divine Intervention or Hotel California—and if you like Absinthe you’ll be in heaven as it’s available on tap. Head down for a tipple or two, a bit of voodoo and apothecary, or a comedy night with some guaranteed laughs. 

The Baxter Inn

The Baxter Inn lies unsuspectingly beneath an alleyway off of Clarence Street, but swathes of fun-loving revellers are privy to its whereabouts all too well. It’s the home of an old-school jazz and whisky bar where the atmosphere is second-to-none. In true speakeasy fashion, The Baxter Inn houses a liquor collection spanning a bar 10 metres in length. However it’s not just whisky here—ask one of the charismatic bartenders to whip you up something with your favourite spirit… You won’t be disappointed. 

Stitch Bar

Ahh, good old Stitch. Fun times are to be had in this basement bar, one that undoubtedly lives up to its quirky theme. Featuring an entrance resembling a sewing shop front, take a trip downstairs and into the saloon-style venue, complete with leather booths, quiet alcoves and more sewing machine décor against the dark and wooden 1920s interior. While guests happily munch on grub selected from the American-diner style menu, bartenders send out cocktails like wildfire, goosebumps, monkey magic to keep you boozed. There’s a lot of commotion down here so go and get yourself involved. 


Fusing Kung-Fu with cocktails is what Grasshopper does best. It’s often busy in this laneway bar in Sydney, but if you happen to score a seat inside you’ll find an eclectic mix of quirky retro furniture and a space decorated with Karate Kid posters, vinyl records and black and white television sets. While you’re sipping your cocktails, don’t forget to order from the Asian inspired menu (the pork buns and prawn toast are calling your name).

Image credit: Frederica Portentoso at Taylor's

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