Image: Bar 1880

A Stunning New Speakeasy Just Opened in One of Sydney’s Most Historic Sites

Circular Quay, once the domain of 24-hour diners and tourist traps, is reclaiming its throne as Sydney’s hottest food and beverage destination. Recent marquee openings like Clam Bar now sit alongside the ambitious new Sydney Place development and the stunning Capella hotel. Joining that list is the new Bar 1880, occupying a storied site in historic Bulletin Place.

Related: Best Bars in Circular Quay

Image: Bar 1880
Image: Bar 1880

The former home of the eponymous Bulletin Place, the award-winning Sydney cocktail bar that finished its stewardship of the site ranked #28 in the Worlds 50 Best Bars, Bar 1880 draws on both the rich history of its surroundings and the global travels of its owner, Harry Morton, to bring a fresh look to the site.

Morton is also the owner of a sailing management company, taking him to far-flung parts of the world which he then documented in a notebook. It’s these experiences and inspirations that formed the bones for Bar 1880.

Image: Bar 1880
Image: Bar 1880

“I have always sought out unassuming hidden bars across the world, from dark basements to stepping behind mirrors. With 1880, I was inspired by the iconic history of the building and ‘rescuing’ some lesser-known cocktails for people to rediscover,” he said.

As the bar’s name suggests, that history goes all the way back to 31st January 1880, when the first edition of the Bulletin Magazine was published. The branding of Bar 1880 stays true to the brief, with the ‘Headline’ bar downstairs welcoming guests with a curated selection of drinks and bites, outdoor seating and replica letters from the press built into the cobble stones.

Meanwhile, the upstairs ‘Press Room’ fleshes things out a bit, with more extensive wine, cocktail and spirits lists complemented by rich interiors that complement and accentuate the uneven timber floors and exposed brick of the heritage building.

Image: Bar 1880
Image: Bar 1880

Drinks are overseen by Alex Raclet, of Pelicano and Franca fame and trend to the classics, with old obscurities given another chance in the sun. The ‘Suffering Bastard’ is a drier take on the Dark N’ Stormy, with VS Cognac and Gin replacing the rum for a drier, more complex highball, whilst ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship’ takes Ada Coleman’s Savoy classic the ‘Hanky Panky’ and adds curacao for the perfect after-work unwinder.

Spirits and wines trend to Australian labels, with enough familiarity and fun to keep both the beginner and initiated amused, with food taking the simple and highly effective form of share platters and tinned fish.

1880 is open from 4pm to late Tuesday to Saturday and located next to Tapavino in Bulletin Place laneway. The Headline Bar will be running a $10 Happy Hour from 4pm to 5.30pm.

Image: Bar 1880
Image: Bar 1880
Image: Bar 1880
Image: Bar 1880
Image: Bar 1880
Image: Bar 1880
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Aaron Shuttleworth
Contributor

Aaron Shuttleworth

Never copied, never imitated, Aaron has forged a career out of firm belief in trying everything at least once. The drinks expert holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and International Business from UTS and has spent the last 15 years immersing himself in the hospitality industry. Aaron's experience opening and operating world-class bar programs, alongside launching global brands in the US has seen him contribute key industry pieces to Australian Bartender, Riddle Magazine and The Blend. He believes the best whisky is the one in front of him.