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The bar at hickson house distilling co

15 Best Whisky Bars in Sydney

You might need to wander down some dimly lit alleys or knock open some unmarked doors to discover Sydney’s best whisky bars, but we can assure you it’s well worth the effort. Maybe you like a sweet and potent shot of America’s finest; maybe you’re more slanted towards a fine Scottish single malt whisky that’s old enough to order its own whisky. Whatever your flavour, our list of the best whisky bars in Sydney will cater to your every malt, grain and wheat-based whim.

Best Whisky Bars in Sydney at a Glance

Highlights from our list include the following options:

Now you’ve read our favourites, let’s check out the complete list.

RELATED: These are the best bars in Sydney when you’re looking for more than whisky.

The baxter inn
The Baxter Inn | Image: Swillhouse

1. The Baxter Inn

  • Pros: Whisky selection, atmosphere, and bartenders are amongst the best you’ll find anywhere in Australia.
  • Cons: This is a very popular bar, so expect to queue on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s not really a speakeasy, as it gets very crowded and loud, and it’s hard to hear the person talking next to you.

With a selection of the best whisky in the world alongside pretzels, friendly, knowledgable staff, and an outstanding atmosphere from open to close, The Baxter Inn is the benchmark for Sydney whisky bars. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bar tucked in an alley behind an alley and boasts arguably the largest collection of whisky in Australia, and potentially the entire Southern Hemisphere. Bartenders in clinical white aprons pour out drops from all around the world, including some of the rarest vintages out there and a handful of their own house-aged stuff from the secret cellar that sits off the main room. Come for a cocktail before dinner, order a ploughman’s plate, call the restaurant to cancel your reservation, and drink your way through the continents one nip at a time.

Address: 152/156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Sun 4pm-3am

The bar at hickson house
The Bar at Hickson House Distilling Co. | Image: Supplied

2. The Bar at Hickson House Distilling Co.

  • Pros: It might be a gin-first venue, but the range of whiskies on offer could rival any of the top dedicated whisky bars in Sydney. The venue is large enough to prevent overcrowding, and the tasty food is classic pub grub (if a little expensive).
  • Cons: We found service a little slow when we visited on a weekend.

Hickson House Distilling Co. might be best known for its gin, but make no mistake that there’s plenty of whisky (including fine and rare) available at this stunning Sydney venue. Officially awarded as Australia’s Best New Bar 2022, Best Distillery Bar 2022, and Runner-up for Best Gin Bar 2022, there’s everything from Australian (Lark, Craft Works, and Hellyers Road) to rare Scotch and Bourbon, including names like Port Charlotte, Glenfarclas, Tomatin, Michters, Balcones, and Willet. Of course, whisky cocktails are available in abundance, and our favourite is the Bonfire Night with gin, mezcal, charcoal pineapple, and peated whisky.

Located in: Metcalfe Arcade
Address: 6 Hickson Rd, The Rocks NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Thru 12pm-12am, Fri-Sat 11am-12am, Sun 11am-10pm
Phone: (02) 8999 3852

Bar besuto
Bar Besuto | Image: Yusuke Oba

3. Bar Besuto

  • Pros: Access to some of the rarest, most sought-after Japanese whiskies in the world that rarely leave Japan. One-off limited editions, 20-plus-year-old aged whisky, and ghost distilleries—they have it all.
  • Cons: You shouldn’t go into this experience expecting to spend a small amount of money. These are very expensive whiskies, and the smaller 15ml tasting size means you’ll only get a nip for tasting purposes.

We’re taking things to the next level with Bar Besuto because we think we’ve found the best whisky bar in Sydney for ultra-rare Japanese whisky lovers. Not only are the drams out of this world, chosen from owner Joel Best’s handpicked collection, but the food is up a notch as well. We’re talking about Miso Glacier 51 Toothfish, a prawn katsu sandwich, and a Wagyu tartare with miso potato and Osetra caviar. As for the drams, if you’ve ever wanted to try the rarest of the rare from a Hakushu 25 to Hibiki, Yamazaki, Kanosuke, and more, this is the place.

Address: 3 Underwood St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Weds 5pm-12am, Thur-Sat 5pm-1am

The doss house
The Doss House | Image: Alana Dimou

4. The Doss House

  • Pros: Knowledgeable staff, a good selection of whisky, and a cool retro venue with a great atmosphere hidden in The Rocks.
  • Cons: This venue is small but very popular, so it gets crowded quickly, service can be a little slow, and it gets quite loud, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. As such, it’s not really suitable for an intimate occasion.

The Doss House whisky bar in Sydney will transport you back in time with a vintage aesthetic that recaptures the convivial spirit of our city’s formative years. Expect fine whiskies, spirits, cocktails, and bartenders who know how to guide you through their vast selection. Whisky cocktails to try starts with our favourite, the Julep of Ireland, but there’s also a selection of highballs, and a Whisky Lemon Cheesecake with Slaine Irish Whisky that’s a must-try. Originally a bit of a hidden oasis for whisky lovers, this has become a very popular spot on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, so don’t expect to get a seat if you come in with a large group.

Address: 77/79 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Thur 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 4pm-2am, Sun 4pm-12am
Phone: 0457 880 180

Door knock
Door Knock | Image: Supplied

5. Door Knock

  • Pros: Cool hidden venue that’s hard to find and features a menu packed with great whisky cocktails.
  • Cons: It does not have the most extensive whisky list and doesn’t feature many limited or hard-to-find bottles. More suited to cocktail lovers than dram experts.

Door Knock is a tightly held secret amongst whisky lovers in Sydney, but we’re officially letting the cat out of the bag on this one. As the name suggests, you have to knock on a secret door with a pineapple on it to get let in. That’s after you’ve walked through a narrow hallway into a basement and after you’ve found the entrance that’s in front of Mejico on Pitt Street. Confused? Good. Once you find your way inside you’ll find some of our favourite whisky cocktails in Sydney, including the Golden Brown with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry, macadamia walnut honey, and lemon.

Address: Basement/70 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Thur 4pm-12am, Fri 12pm-1am, Sat 4pm-1am

The captains balcony crows nest
The Captain’s Balcony in Crows Nest | Image: Supplied

6. The Captain’s Balcony

  • Pros: Impressive fit-out that brings a high-brow whisky list and great food choices to Crows Nest. The dram selection could compete with the best in Sydney and the food menu is solid when you’re just after a bite to eat.
  • Cons: The food prices are fair, but the drinks prices are a little steep compared to other bars in the area. The same goes for the whisky prices and tasting flights, which are in 15ml measurements.

The Captain’s Balcony has two outposts in Sydney, one near Wynard in the CBD, and a new venue in Crows Nest near Small Bar. Their new Crows Nest venue has a clear focus on whisky with monthly whisky and spirits tastings, tasting flights (15ml measures), and plenty of Japanese, Scotch, and rest of the world offerings from names like Kujira, Berry Bros & Rudd, Glenfarclas, and many more. The food menu is also worthy of a shoutout with a delicious Black Angus 300g rump cap served with cafe de paris butter, frites, and watercress. Of course, the venue itself is speical with a striking back-lit bar and upstairs seating for when things get a little crowded downstairs.

Address: 46 Erskine St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Sun 5pm-2am

Address: 116 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest NSW 2065
Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-12am, Sat 5pm-12am
Phone: 1800 422 782

Deans lounge
Dean’s Lounge | Image: Supplied

7. Dean’s Lounge

  • Pros: The quaint, local atmosphere feels homely and high-end at the same time. The whiskey cocktails are outstanding, and the service is outstanding, with a real owner-led vibe.
  • Cons: Another popular local haunt that can get busy on Friday and Saturday nights so keep that in mind if you’re visiting with a large group.

Originally home to Dean’s Cafe, the transformed Dean’s Lounge venue is like stepping into someones house to enjoy some of the best whisky, cocktails, and food you’ll find in Potts Point. Highlight cocktails include the Water to Wine with clarified Bulleit Bourbon, lemon, sugar, and a shiraz float. That’s joined by the Nanas Old Fashioned with almond infused Buckleys Rye, orange blossom, and orange bitters. Of course, no whisky bar in Sydney is complete without a few neat options and you’ll find plenty of top-shelf as chosen by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) and a handful of rare bottlings, including Hakushu 18 and Nant Single Cask American Oak.

Address: 7 Kellett St, Potts Point NSW 2011
Hours: Wed-Thur 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-3am
Phone: 0403 240 456

Pappys bar
Pappy’s Bar | Image: Supplied

8. Pappy’s Bar

  • Pros: Great food paired with great whisky cocktails that are made nice and strong (as they should be). Service is outstanding and welcoming, and it makes you want to return to try more cocktails and tacos!
  • Cons: The narrow venue layout fills up quickly, especially on Thurs-Sat nights.

Right next door to The Captain’s Balcony on Erskine Street in Sydney CBD is Pappy’s Bar. It is one of our favourite spots when we’re looking for good food with our whisky. The selection of burgers (The American is a stand out) and tacos is great, but it’s the cocktails that keep us coming back. Our favourite is either the Charleston with Buckley’s Rye Whisky, Talisker 10, and Pappy’s stout and maple syrup or the New Orleans with Bulleit Frontier Whisky, cherries, maple syrup, and lemon juice. If you’re after a neat dram, there’s plenty of bourbon, Japanese, and Scotch to choose from.

Address: 48 Erskine St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon 12-9pm, Tues-Fri 12pm-12am, Sat 5pm-12am
Phone: (02) 8054 3754

Nodaya dining bar
Nodaya Dining Bar | Image: Supplied

9. Nodaya Dining Bar

  • Pros: Outstanding selection of Japanese whisky that caters to more than the uber-rich, with options ranging from $16-220.
  • Cons: Food options are tasty, but relatively expensive for small portion sizes.

Great Japanese whisky is at the heart of everything Nodaya Dining Bar stands for, and they even add Suntory Yamazaki mignonette to their Coffin Bay Pacific oysters! Suitable for whisky lovers who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on rare drops, they have a tight selection of Japanese whisky that’s slightly more affordable (but just as rare) as some of the more expensive venues on our list. Of course, the food menu is just as impressive as the whisky and we love the premium toothfish, wagyu rump, and kushi-katsu.

Address: 16-30 Bunn St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
Hours: Tues-Sat 7pm-12am
Phone: (02) 8957 7811

Eau de vie
Eau De Vie | Image: Supplied

10. Eau De Vie

  • Pros: Food, whisky, and cocktails are all next-level. We appreciate how the bar pays homage to traditional speakeasies, making it a great place to bring someone on a special occasion.
  • Cons: It can get busy on Thursdays-Saturdays so don’t come here expecting swift service.

Eau De Vie is a traditional speakeasy-style bar in the centre of Sydney that’s serving up some of our favourite whiskies and whisky cocktails. Start your night off with an EDV BLAZER / OLD FASHIONED that was named one of the best cocktails in the world by Elite Traveller, and combines Ron Zacappa 23, whisky, scotch ale, and PX syrup. You can choose to have this one served blazed and hot or chilled over a super rock. Move into the whiskies and you’ll have choices from Lagavulin 16-year-old to Mortlach ‘Lure of the Blood Moon’, and more. Food is high-level bar snacks, including a delicious short rib sausage roll.

Address: Enter Via Wynyard Lane, 285 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Thurs 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 4pm-2am
Phone: (02) 7225 5559

Shady pines saloon
Shady Pines Saloon | Image: Swillhouse

11. Shady Pines Saloon

  • Pros: Great selection of whisky and cocktails in a cool (and very hidden) location, which adds exclusivity. Peanuts for the table!
  • Cons: Small and popular spot that can get very busy on Friday and Saturday nights. Don’t come here with a large group expecting to get a table.

The one that started it all for small whisky bars in Sydney, and the older brother of The Baxter Inn and Frankies, Shady Pines is arguably the cause of more Sydney hangovers than weddings and NRL finals combined. Born of a cowboy’s booze-addled dream, they boast some of the best whisky around, focussing on North America, and have a team of (oft shirtless) professionals who know how to use it. They also serve up free peanuts and play both kinds of music.

Address: 4/256 Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Hours: Sun-Thur 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-1:30am

Bancho bar
Banchō | Image: Supplied

12. Banchō

  • Pros: Modern whisky bar with a great selection of whiskies from around the world. Cocktails and service are also excellent.
  • Cons: Food options are quite limited, so don’t come here expecting to eat a large dinner.

Banchō features cocktails inspired by the diversity of cultures in Sydney’s Chinatown. This whisky bar in Sydney shares an endless arrangement of unique ingredients with its patrons. The bar prides itself on its large selection of Japanese and Scotch Whisky. Must-try cocktails include the Lantern Blazer with Glenfiddich Fire & Cane single malt whisky, black sesame, peanut, and blazed with Drambuie.

Address: 10 Thomas Ln, Haymarket NSW 2000
Hours: Tue-Thur 4-11pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-1am
Phone: (02) 8097 9512

Tokyo bird
Tokyo Bird | Image: Supplied

13. Tokyo Bird

  • Pros: Intimate venue for tasting some of the best and most sought-after Japanese whisky available in Australia.
  • Cons: The Yakitori (skewers) option is great, but the rest of the food menu could do with some more exciting options.

Tokyo Bird is a small yakitori bar in an old industrial area of Surry Hills that’s home to some of the best (and rarest) Japanese whiskies. Not only do they have great skewers and whisky, but they’re serving up plenty of delicious bar food, including katsu nuggets, which are a must-try. Of course, their selection of whisky-laden cocktails is excellent, but you should dive head-first into the Japanese drams, which include labels like Yamazaki 18-year-old, Hibiki, 30-year-old, and Hakushu 12-year-old.

Address: Commonwealth St &, Belmore Ln, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Hours: Mon-Wed 4-11pm, Thur 4pm-11:30pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-12am
Phone: (02) 8880 9971

Uncle mings
Uncle Mings | Image: Supplied

14. Uncle Mings

  • Pros: Known for their signature ‘Uncles Spiced Whiskey,’ the dumplings stood out amongst the outstanding selection of drams. Juicy, fresh, and full, they’re some of the best we’ve experienced in Sydneytown.
  • Cons: Don’t expect an intimate, speakeasy-style bar because this place can get very busy.

Cocktails, Japanese Whisky, and Dumplings. Need we say more? Legend has it that Uncle Ming was one of Shanghai’s most notorious figures, a sweet potato vendor who began a life of crime as a policeman collecting protection money from local opium traders. Having to leave China, Uncle Ming settled in Sydney in the 1920s and set up a place for the local community to meet and have a drink. This whisky bar in Sydney claims to have one of the most extensive Japanese Whisky collections in Australia. You HAVE to see it to believe it.

Located in: Ferrier Hare & Associate
Address: Basement/49 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon 4pm-12am, Tues-Thurs 12pm-12am, Fri 12pm-1am, Sat 4pm-1am

Earls juke joint
Earl’s Juke Joint | Image: Supplied

15. Earl’s Juke Joint

  • Pros: The camouflaged entrance as a butcher shop (a walk from Newtown station) adds a feeling of exclusivity to the experience, even if the place is full. The whiskey selection, food choices, and cocktails are full of solid options.
  • Cons: Gets very busy on Friday and Saturday night so don’t expect to hold an intimate conversation.

Not specifically a whisky bar, Earl’s is rather an everything bar that just so happens to have a great collection of regularly rotating rarities to keep things interesting. With an enormous back bar and a team of cocktail and spirit experts, the guys (and girls) at Earl’s know the recipe for a good night all too well. They also have a huge selection of beers, featuring classic, easy-drinking lagers to seasonal beers designed to sate even the thirstiest customer.

Address: 407 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
Hours: Tue-Sun 6pm-12am

Alternatives to These Sydney Whisky Bars

We’ve only recommended whisky bars that are dedicated to serving the most sought-after whisky and whisky cocktails in Sydney. However, there are a few bars that are also worth checking out, even if they don’t solely focus on the rarest drams. Let’s take a look at those venues that just missed out on the final cut:

  • Grain Bar, George St, The Rocks: Grain Bar has been serving a wide range of top-shelf whiskies since its inception in 2012. Ranging curious sippers from each major distilling region, you’d be hard-pressed to pay the team a visit and not find something you’ve never tried. This whisky bar also dab-hands at cocktails, and the sophisticated, elegant setting is perfect at any time of day for just about any occasion.
  • J&M, Angel Pl, Sydney: A Sydney whisky bar list wouldn’t be complete without a little something from Merivale, and this offering is one of their best to date. J&M is a small, unassuming space nestled above The Angel Hotel, which was the site of Mr. John and Merivale Hemmes’ first fashion boutique in the 70s. A huge whisky list takes pride of place amongst an already generous selection of drinks on offer, with cocktails and cracking service also on point.
  • Stitch Bar, York St, Sydney: A regular addition to Sydney’s best bars list, Stitch Bar is the perfect whisky bar to enjoy a rare drop and some great food. American Diner style food graces the counter, there’s absolutely no chance you’ll be able to walk out without a good feed. The cocktail menu is just as impressive, with such names at Lousiville Slugger and Midnight Express. There’s certainly an addition to tickle your fancy. Our pick would be the Gold Digger, a modern take on the classic whisky sour, honey and chocolate liqueur enhanced with the nutty flavour of Amaretto and burned coconut.
  • The Roosevelt, Orwell St, Potts Point: Eau De Vie’s younger brother, This whisky bar in Sydney delivers the glamour of a bygone era to Potts Point, offering one of the most well-thought-out drinks menus in town and prime-quality dishes in a room fit for the king himself. While cocktails are the house’s specialty, this has to be one of the most opulent rooms to sit in and peruse the excellent selection of whiskies available.

If you think there’s a whisky bar that we should visit for a spot on this list, please contact us via our contact form.

Why You Should Trust Our List

With a head office in Sydney and a penchent for finding the best bars in our home city, Man of Many has all the knowledge and expertise required for putting together a tight list of great whisky bars. We don’t just talk the talk either, because every year we play host to Sydney Whisky Month where we (and our partners) host intimate, ticketed tasting events at some of the top-rated venues in Sydney. In compiling this list, author Ben McKimm leaned on the wider editorial team to gauge their favourite spots before ranking the venues based on their selection of whisky, the quality of the cocktails, and their value for money.

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