Sometimes the greatest bars are the hardest to find, and in Sydney’s case the hidden gems are most often underground. Whether you’re searching for a jazz band, soul vinyl or taxidermy to accompany your beverages the bars beneath Sydney’s pavement have you covered. So here are the best of what’s underground.
Prohibition style drinking is hidden in Abercrombie Lane, inside a brick vaulted basement also known as Palmer & Co. The 1920’s themed cocktail bar offers all the classics as well as share plates for those feeling peckish late into the night. Jazz bands like to entertain here and the bar has the Merivale polish, that only Justin Hemmes can execute.
Abercrombie Lane, Sydney
Tucked away in Sydney’s historic quarter, The Doss House is the newest basement bar to open in The Rocks. From boarding house to opium den, the building has a rich history and the latest tenants have created five cosy bar spaces. Front and centre is the whisky offering, with over 150 behind the bar, along with a range of signature cocktails.
77 – 79 George Street, The Rocks
Beneath the Hilton in Sydney’s CBD, Marble Bar is a Victorian-style escape with marble and mahogany interiors. From Prohibition mixes to single malt scotch, whiskies and rum, the drinks menu here has bite and offers a killer negroni. A live music venue too, drinks are often accompanied with good tunes making it hard to escape.
Level B1, 488 George Street, Sydney
In the basement of a Clarence Street building, The Baxter Inn serves an extensive list of whiskies paired with complimentary pretzels. The long, dimly-lit bar’s walls are lined with more than 800 whiskies and a wide range of liquors. For the full experience head to the whiskey room hidden in the cellar. For the non-whiskey lovers, they also have classic cocktails and an extensive wine list.
152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney
Below the pavement on King Street and inspired by all that is New Orleans (the food, the drink, the music), The Swinging Cat is the kind of bar that is perfect for a nightcap. Classic cocktails sit alongside quick and simple food from the South, think grilled cheese sandwiches and cocktails of cognac, single malt scotch or bourbon.
44 King Street, Sydney
The personality of Shady Pines Saloon is bold, yet it’s entrance discreet. Hidden beneath a nondescript door in a Darlinghurst alleyway, the bar – which boasts as much character as taxidermy – is the perfect amount of dive. A frequented watering hole among Sydneysiders, there’s a solid list of cocktails here alongside long wooden tables, confident wait staff and complimentary peanuts.
4/256 Crown Street, Darlinghurst
Those with a soft spot for rum or just the Caribbean in general, should look no further than The Lobo Plantation. A curved staircase leads keen drinkers down to the Caribbean-themed watering hole where more than 250 types of rum are on offer. The menu features rums from Barbados, Cuba and the Dominican Republic while a playful cocktail list boasts hints of cacao, pumpkin lemonade and twists to classics like the Old Fashioned.
209 Clarence Street, Sydney
What was once a record store selling sought after vintage vinyl is now a fully-fledged cocktail bar frequented for its booze as much as its tunes. This popular watering hole dons a solid beer and cocktail menu (puns included). Blues and rock ‘n’ roll most often provide the backdrop alongside leather bound booths and high stools sitting against the wooden bar. Stop by on a Thursday night to drink alongside DJs spinning funk and soul vinyl.
73 York Street, Sydney
Door Knock is the latest hard-to-find bar that has everyone talking. After venturing through a security door and down stairs, you know you have arrived when you’re at the brass pineapple door knock. The bar has an extensive selection of cocktails, wines and sherries, leaving it hard to know where to start. Our pick is the Hey Macadamia served in a tiki cup with Plantation rum, Fino, mango and lime macadamia orgeat.
70 Pitt Street, Sydney
Black sign donning three skulls is the hint to wander down the Ramblin’ Rascal stairs. Decorated with red carpet, leather bound booths and a liquor menu weighted with whiskey and cognac. Craft beers and a approachable wine menu are on offer while those peckish can order Mary’s burgers, which are delivered to the bar from Mary’s CBD outpost around the corner.
199 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
When the boys behind Shady Pines Saloon and The Baxter Inn team up with pizza, it’s an unstoppable feat – and the outcome is Frankie’s. This retro pizza parlour and bar seems like a small Italian restaurant upon first encounter, but through two small doors lie a stage, booths, pinball machines and a bar which remains rowdy until the early hours.
50 Hunter Street, Sydney
The Wild Rover is one for Irish expats and Sydneysiders with a penchant for Bloody Marys. The rustic bar teams exposed brick walls and dim lighting with bright animal print murals, and its playfulness extends to the cocktail menu. Drinks are listed as light, medium or heavy while the Kilpatrick Bloody Mary features bacon-washed vodka. Food-wise, sausage rolls and oysters keep the peckish at bay.
75 Campbell Street, Surry Hills