11 of the best from the Sydney bar scene

The Sydney bar scene has undergone a huge resurgence in the past 12 months.

With a raft of new drinking dens opening here’s a list of what’s hot.

Now & Then

A nostalgic yet modern cocktail and wine bar aiming to celebrate the best drinking and dining experiences of the past and present. Expect a contrast of classic cocktails, seasonal caprioskas and old-school Manhattans alongside more modern milk punches, bottled cocktails and seltzers, plus pet nat wines and sour beers. The new bar also promises plans for late night music, collabs and takeovers. It also features some very lush private spaces and areas for last minute events in Sydney’s bar scene. 

Monday-Saturday from 4pm, 222 Clarence St, Sydney, @nowandthen.sydney


Chef Luke Mangan (Glass Brasserie, Sydney Hilton) has two favourite cuisines, French and Japanese, which he has merged into Luc-San, his new casual bar in Hotel Indigo. So order Sydney Rock Oysters with Ginger and Yuzu Kosho Mignonette and Tuna Palmier to go with your chablis or sake. As the evening progresses, turn to Japanese whisky and wines from Burgundy or the Barossa, to accompany mains of pork apple and ginger skewers or torched Japanese eggplant with black garlic and sauce vierge. 

Tues-Saturday, 4pm-11pm, cnr Pennys Ln & Kings Cross Rd, Potts Point, (02) 9295 8810, info@luc-san.com.au


This bar features a large list of wines from Australian, French and Italian producers and has been welcomed to Sydney’s bar scene. The short and punchy cocktail list has signature offerings such as Abbey Road (Citrus Gin, Vermouth Bianco, Davidson Plum, Champagne) and Megatone (Grappa, Tequila, Ginger Wine, Pastis). The bar menu features share plates with an opening menu including Sydney Rock Oysters with Blackberry Vinegar & Roasted Kelp Oil, Chicken Liver Parfait with Spiced Pineapple and Liquorice, and Yellowfin Tuna Crudo with Grilled Watermelon and Kefir Cream.

Monday-Saturday 5pm-11pm, Oxford House Hotel, 21 Oxford St, Paddington, (02) 9071 4750, oxfordhouse.com.au

La Prima

Sydney bar scene

Escape to Mexico via some mezcal in this tiny 10-person bar hidden in the back of Paddington pub posing as El Primo Sanchez. Expect candlelit ambiance, traditional Mexican music and brightly-coloured walls decorated with agave at this new arrival on the Sydney bar scene. Apart from the aforementioned mezcal, the drinks menu pitches a quirky combination of margaritas, highballs and slushies, alongside Mexican beers. They pair with an array of tacos and enchiladas and sides with an Aussie twist, from local prawns to kangaroo tacos and a seared Coppertree Farm steak. 

Wed-Thur 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 4:30pm-1am, Sunday 1pm-10pm, elprimosanchez.com

Martinez Terrace

Sydney’s bar scene

Quay Quarter Tower is part of a revamp of the improved food and drink offerings around Circular Quay. The al fresco bar features a drinks menu favouring lighter, refreshing cocktails, local and international beers plus a of rosés from Provence and Australia. There is also a whole page dedicated to magnums, and more than 35 wines by the glass. Simple sustenance comes in the form of fresh seafood, shared snacks, lighter mains as well as baguettes – and the kids aren’t forgotten either, with crumbed fish goujons + frites (fish and chips) preceding a plate of ice cream.

Mon-Fri 11.30am-late, Saturday, 4pm-late, Quay Quarter Tower, 50 Bridge St, Sydney, 1800 106 440, martinez.sydney


Chef Somer Sivrioglu’s menus here are inspired by the Aegean coast meze bars, that feature vegetarian and olive oil-driven dishes. The menu is largely plant-based in plates of lentil kofte, lettuce leaf, radish, molasses and pickled chilli or beetroot falafel, spinach pita, tahini and pickles. But there are some meat dishes, including Kingfish collar kebab and chicken with bulgur pilaf. The drinks list pays special attention to natural and local Turkish wines and a cocktail menu also shines a light on Turkish produce – and there is raki, if you dare.

Mon-Thur Noon-10 pm, Friday Noon-10 pm, Saturday 5pm-10 pm, 1/50 Carrington St, Sydney, (02) 9262 3161, maydanoz.com.au

Bar Besuto 

Besuto restaurant in Circular Quay has expanded into the Sydney Place precinct with this var offering. Championing Japanese whisky culture, Bar Besuto features an impressive collection of more than 200 Japanese whiskies with 50 of them being exclusive single-cask offerings. It’s the holding room for chef Joel Best’s omakase experience nearby at Besuto restaurant around the corner. If you don’t want to move, then a simplified menu can come to you in the form of steak tartare with caviar and whisky gelato. Set against a moody, jazz-filled backdrop, Bar Besuto provides an authentic and immersive Japanese whisky experience in the heart of Sydney.
Tues-Wed 4pm-midnight, Thursday 4pm-1am, Fri 4pm-1am, Saturday 6pm-1am, 3 Underwood St, Sydney, besutosydney.com.au

Trocadero Room

For those who prefer a dance with their drinks, Sydney’s hottest new bar and band room has opened in Enmore. The “Troc” revives some of Sydney’s dynamic live music scene, alongside burlesque, comedy, punk and improv jazz performances. A small pub called The Magpie will be also incorporated at the front portion of The Troc and will play classic rock and indie alt music, served alongside a range of beers and a ploughman’s plate.

156 Enmore Rd, Enmore, instagram.com/trocaderoroom

Easy Tiger

Sydney’s bar scene

Vibrant southeast Asian-style dining has arrived at the ground floor of the Pacific Bondi Beach, with the opening of Easy Tiger. Expect the food to be Indonesian-led, with touches of other Southeast-Asian flavours from Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. Also on offer is a $45pp banquet option. The space is also the home of Bondi Brewing Co while  range of cocktails, reflecting the Asian-inspired food menu are also available. There’s an all local wine list as well. 

182 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach, (02) 9072 9301 easytigerbondibeach.com

Henry Gs

Sydney’s bar scene

Escape into a world of fine wines at Manly’s newest wine parlour brought to you by locals who know how a thing or two about hosting a fabulous evening. The team behind Donny’s Bar, InSitu and Market Lane Live are expanding their footprint in Manly with the opening of Henry Gs. Visit this summer for a late-night menu of cocktails, wines and Spanish-style snacks at this new addition to the Sydney bar scene.

11 The Corso, Manly, (02) 9058 2870, henrygs.com.au

Bar Copains

Sydney’s bar sceneChef Morgan McGlone and Nathan Sasi (above) just wanted to open a friendly, neighbourhood wine bar for their mates (copains in French). But this little place would not be out of place on any hip European city corner. Surry Hills is again a hotspot of bars and diners, so if you can’t squeeze in try raw diced tuna with mushroom soy dressing or classic chicken liver parfait here, then hunt around for an alternative.
67 Albion St, Surry Hills, barcopains.com

Want to know more about the Sydney bar scene? Check out where Jamie Oliver likes to visit when in Sydney.

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