When wine time rolls around, make your way to the eastern suburbs. Whether you want to wind down on the way home or stay out for a while, the pocket is dotted with small bars, bustling hotels and the odd rooftop bar that boast great drinks and even better vibes.
In the heart of Double Bay, Mrs Sippy is a restaurant and open-air bar in one. The courtyard bar is casual and breezy, and it can get packed on the weekends when there’s a DJ in residence. The wine list is extensive and predominantly Australian, and the cocktails are more classic than creative, but just as good. Hungry? The bar menu is made up of small plates, while there are more substantial options (like pizzas and the Mrs Sippy burger) available at the bistro up front.
37 Bay Street, Double Bay
Wine connoisseurs, this bar’s for you. Located on the Oxford Street strip, The Wine Library is a cosy venue that, as you may have guessed, specialises in wine – 350 handpicked varieties, in fact. It has a sophisticated yet relaxed vibe, and you can settle in for the evening at the front bar, with its romantic lighting and low-hanging lamps, the dining room, or the courtyard. The staff are well-versed on their wines, but don’t hover.
18 Oxford Street, Woollahra
Smack-bang on the shores of Coogee Beach, the multi-storey venue is a bright and breezy hangout all year round. Downstairs, there’s pizza, gelato, and a retro games room on offer (giant Scrabble, anyone?), but Coogee Pavilion’s shining star is the rooftop upstairs. It features four bars as well as indoor and outdoor areas, all of which have a Mediterranean feel and overlook the beach.
169 Dolphin Street, Coogee
Charlie Parker’s the new kid on the Paddington block, and he’s a hit. Located in the basement below Fred’s, the speakeasy-style bar is all about dim lighting, dark woods and leather, and a creative cocktail list. Many of the drinks are produce-driven, and inspired by the fare upstairs. Order a tipple and a charcuterie board while catching up on the week gone by.
Basement, 380 Oxford Street, Paddington
One of the best small bars in the ‘burbs, 10 William Street is cosy and lively at once. Go early to score a table (it’s a tight space), and take your time perusing the wine list: it’s long and impressive, and always evolving. If you’re in the mood to try something new, you’re the bar’s ideal customer – they’ll happily help you choose. Once you’ve decided, turn your attention to the bar menu. It’s fusion at its best, but you can’t go wrong with the soft pretzels or pastas.
10 William Street, Paddington
For a taste of the glamour of 1950s New York, go to The Roosevelt, a cocktail bar in Potts Point that’s cool without trying. It’s the brainchild of the team behind Eau de Vie, and it shows: the interior is dark and moody, lined with glass cabinets and antique cocktail-making equipment, and the menu is memorable. The drinks are listed in sections named after musical icons (like Elvis and Chuck Berry), and the bar dishes up tapas if you’re feeling peckish.
32 Orwell Street, Potts Point
Set right on the water at Watsons Bay, this sprawling hotel is a Sydney institution thanks to its laidback vibe and million-dollar view of the harbour. Its Hamptons-esque fit-out is stylish and slick, and reflects the carefree feel of the venue. There are several bars, but if the sun’s out, the best spot to settle is in the Beach Club, a nautical courtyard with stripy umbrellas, white picnic benches and pot plants. Order a colourful cocktail (like the Coco Bay) and a bucket of fresh prawns or oysters, and you’re golden.
1 Military Road, Watsons Bay
In Bondi, Neighbourhood is an inviting small bar where, if you’re a local, you’re bound to run into someone you know. Its exposed brick walls, big windows, and retro-cool courtyard set the scene, and the bar serves up a range of beers and wines as well as an innovative cocktail menu. The food is indulgent and moreish – think macaroni and cheese, popcorn prawns and cheesy jaffles. There are deals every day of the week, plus a roast on Sundays.
143 Curlewis Street, Bondi
Another Potts Point gem, Monopole is a small bar that ticks all the right boxes: good food, great wine and friendly service. The interior is contemporary, dimly-lit and beautifully designed. It strikes the balance between luxe and relaxed, and locals love it. The 500-strong wine list has something for every palate, and the tapas-style menu is a foodie favourite that changes seasonally. It’s made for sharing, so go ahead and order a feast before finishing with dessert.
71A Macleay Street, Potts Point
With picnic tables, colourful stools and a sparkling view over Bondi Beach, The Bucket List is the ultimate beachfront bar. It screams summer, serving up fruity cocktails (try the ‘Life’s Peachy’ or ‘Paid to Surf’), and is the perfect place to while away the afternoon. While you’re there, order up a feast of prawns, fish tacos and hot chips – you won’t regret it.
Bondi Pavilion, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach