An added descriptor to make any good, small, or weird bar a little more special, Sydney is home to some of the best hidden bars in all of Australia. It’s true that many cities have these scattered around, adding a little surface flare to different neighbourhoods, but in a city the size of Sydney, with so much history and character, hidden bars truly are special places to hang out. If you’re stuck trying to find them, or you just want a new recommendation, we’ve done some digging to find some true hidden gems.
Best Hidden Bars at a Glance
Our list of the best bars in Sydney goes like this:
- The best hidden bar in Sydney overall: Shady Pines Saloon
- For great cocktails: Apollonia
- For whisky: The Doss House
- For food: The Cumberland
Now that we’ve looked at our favourites, let’s check out the complete list.
Table of contents
- 1. Shady Pines Saloon
- 2. The Cumberland
- 3. Apollonia
- 4. La Prima
- 5. Cardea
- 6. Old Mates Place
- 7. The Baxter Inn
- 8. The Doss House
- 9. Door Knock
- 10. Huxley’s
- 11. Earl’s Juke Joint
- 12. Papa Gede’s
- 13. Stitch Bar
- 14. Ramblin Rascal Tavern
- 15. The Rook
- 16. The Lobo
- 17. The Barber Shop
- 18. The Swinging Cat
- 19. Uncle Ming’s
- 20. Palmer & Co
1. Shady Pines Saloon
Located through an unmarked door on Foley St just off Crown St, Darlinghurst, Shady Pines Saloon is our local and it’s widely considered the best hidden bar in Sydney. Once you get past the slew of character-adding mounts adorning the walls, you’ll find the décor warming and comfortable with plenty of space to kick back and enjoy a few drinks and a bowl of peanuts with friends. Our number one drink recommendation is the ‘Goldie Griffith’ with Tennessee whiskey, white cacao, lychee, cinnamon, pineapple, and citrus because it’s like a whisky sour taken up 10 levels. However, you can always keep it neat with a can from their beer collection.
Address: 4/256 Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Hours: Sun-Thur 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-1:30am
2. The Cumberland
You’ve probably seen this place all over social media, but we can assure you the trip to Manly is worth your while if you haven’t visited The Cumberland. This top hidden bar in Sydney is home to some of our favourite cocktails and with enough space to accommodate large groups, everyone can partake in the action. Also a great spot if you’re looking for food, the range of tapas includes Sydney Rock Oysters and Burrata that goes perfectly with a glass of white wine or a ‘Lemon Aspen Fizz’ cocktail with kombucha, mezcal, Grand Marnier, lime, and jalapeno.
Address: 17/19 Central Ave, Manly NSW 2095
Hours: Tues-Thur 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am, Sun 4-10pm
Phone: (02) 9058 2877
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Our favourite hidden bar in Sydney if you’re trying to impress, Apollonia is a teeny-tiny spot hidden below Hinchcliff House. First, be warned this place gets busy very quickly so we recommend heading in early if you want to tick this off your bucket list. Food is sophisticated, with oysters, yellowfin tuna, and a range of cheeses, however, it’s the cocktails that really stand out here. Our favourite is the infamous ‘Cassata’ with Michters bourbon, amaretto, spiced honey, and pumpkin ricotta.
Address: 5-7 Young St Basement Level, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Wed 3pm-12am, Thur 3pm-1am, Fri 3pm-2am, Sat 4pm-2am
Phone: (02) 7228 1400
4. La Prima
You’ve probably heard of La Prima’s sister venue by now ‘El Primo Sanchez’ but what if we told you there’s a secret 10-seater 20-standing bar located inside? Welcome to one of the newest hidden bars in Sydney with candle-lit ambience, old-school Mexican music, and walls adorned with agave. You’ll love the rotating menu of curated cocktails by the Maybe Sammy team, with the menu including the Encanto with Patrón Silver, dry vermouth and cherry soda, Perfume de Gardenias with Patrón Reposado, peach & citrus cordial and jasmine soda, and Pastel de Planto with Patrón Reposado, banana and cinnamon cordial, salt and agave.
Address: 27-33 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021
Hours: Wed-Thur 5-11pm, Fri-Sat 4:30pm-1am, Sun 1-10pm
If you’re looking for a hidden bar in Sydney that offers old-world charm, come check out Cardea. This luxe new cocktail bar from restaurateur Garry Simonian (Luna Lu in The Rocks, Meat District Co on King St Wharf, and Café Birkenhead in Birkenhead Point) offers an extraordinary cocktail and bar menu from award-winning mixologist George Bekarian, in collaboration with the culinary executive Davide Pier Maiuri. It’s a fine balance between food and drinks, you’ll find everything from premium MB4 Australian Wagyu striploin from WA to Truffle-infused cocktails with vodka, and guava. It might be one of the newer bars in Sydney, but it’s captured the attention and palates of our food editors and connoisseurs for good reason.
Address: Shop 2, T3.01/300 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Wed 5-10pm, Thur 5-11pm, Fri-Sat 5-11:30pm
Phone: (02) 9290 2137
6. Old Mates Place
Sitting high above Clarence St, Sydney, Old Mates Place is one of our favourite hidden bars in the Harbour City. It’s been a favourite hangout of ours for a long time because it doesn’t disappoint, no matter the seasons. Bask in the sun at the rooftop bar during the summer or chill out inside and sip on a whiskey during the winter. Choose from any of the listed cocktails and you’ll be satisfied or let the team of skilled bartenders make you something from scratch. Food includes a range of cheese steaks, with all dietary requirements covered.
Address: level 4/199 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Thurs 4pm-2am, Fri-Sun 2pm-2am
7. The Baxter Inn
This underground whiskey bar whose front door is on an old tattered loading dock has the outside appearance of being the ideal hidden bar in Sydney. Once you get a chance to view and sample its extensive whiskey collection, you may never come back to the city surface.
Address: 152/156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Sun 4pm-3am
8. The Doss House
One of the best bars in The Rocks, The Doss House is a hidden bar in Sydney that houses some of the finest whisky we’ve come across. This is our pick of the bunch if you want to hang out and taste a range of whiskies with tasting flights available and a full menu that reads more like a book. Sip on a glass of The Macallan 12 Triple Wood before transitioning to a glass of Glenglassaugh 30. There’s plenty to choose from.
Address: 77/79 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Thurs 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 4pm-2am, Sun 2pm-12am
Phone: 0450 196 477
9. Door Knock
If you’re looking for a hidden wine bar in Sydney, check out Door Knock. Their drinks menu includes all of your favourite beers and spirits, but we head here for biodynamic, minimal intervention, and natural wines. Food is up to scratch too with burrata, potato fries, and spice-rubbed chicken with Jack Daniels BBQ sauce a clear favourite of ours.
Address: Basement/70 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Wed 4pm-12am, Thur 12pm-12am, Fri 12pm-1am, Sat 4pm-1am
Huxley’s doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside it’s like stepping to the other side of the world: Manhattan to be exact, fashioning itself like a classic American sports bar. Ex-pats will swear they are back home after a few strong drinks here, making this one of the ideal hidden bars in Sydney, especially for tourists.
Address: 32 Banksia Rd, Caringbah NSW 2229
Hours: Mon-Thur 5-10pm, Fri-Sat 12-11:30pm, Sun 12-9pm
Phone: (02) 9531 4999
11. Earl’s Juke Joint
This Newtown gem is a throwback to the great bars in New Orleans, Louisiana, with drinks strong enough to make you feel like it’s always Mardi Gras and a cozy wooden interior that just makes you want to spend the night. We highly recommend trying the ‘That’s That’ cocktail with vodka, watermelon, galangal, citrus, and habanero distillate it’s fresh, fragrant, and refreshing as it gets. Like any good speakeasy, there are complimentary nuts for you to snack on while you work through the drinks menu.
Address: 407 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
Hours: Tues-Sun 6pm-12am
12. Papa Gede’s
Down a narrow laneway is Papa Gede’s, a hidden bar in Sydney themed after the bizarre and alluring world of voodoo. They’re dog friendly, serve a killer old-fashioned among other cocktails and are an ideal place to start or end any night.
Address: 348 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Thur 4pm-12am, Fri 4pm-1am, Sat 5pm-1am
Phone: (02) 9299 5671
13. Stitch Bar
Built behind a faux-dress maker’s storefront, Stitch Bar may be the most fun hidden bar in all of Sydney and you’ll feel that right after you find your way inside and down below ground. Having been greeted by excellent cocktails and American-inspired food, you’ll want to spend the whole night.
Address: 61 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Sun-Thur 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-2am
Phone: (02) 9279 0380
14. Ramblin Rascal Tavern
The picture-perfect version of an American-inspired dive bar, Ramblin Rascal Tavern is a place that’s easily overlooked on first blush but is undoubtedly one of the best hidden bars in all of Sydney. A great vibe, excellent drinks and delicious unhealthy food make this an ideal stop.
Address: Basement/60 Park St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Weds 5pm-1am, Thur-Sat 4pm-2am
15. The Rook
This hidden bar in Sydney is located on a rooftop right downtown, above businesses and business colleges which you view on your ride up the elevator to the top floor. With great views, drinks and food—not to mention a seductive breeze most months of the year—the Rook is one of the best stops in town.
Address: level 7/56-58 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Thur 12-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12:30am, Sun 12-8pm
Phone: (02) 8322 2008
16. The Lobo
Located under Clarence Street, this underground rum bar is undoubtedly one of the most alluring hidden bars in all of Sydney for those who love that sweet, fun-loving liquor. You’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip to Cuba.
Address: basement lot 1/209 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Sun 5pm-2am
17. The Barber Shop
As the name suggests, this fantastic hidden bar in Sydney is located in a barber shop, serving strong gin cocktails among others with small nibbles to keep you satiated in between more gin cocktails.
Address: 89 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Tues-Wed 4pm-12am, Thur 4pm-1am, Fri-Sat 4pm-2am
18. The Swinging Cat
Located underneath a Subway sandwich shop that is almost impossible to find, The Swinging Cat makes up for their lack of signage by being one of the best New Orleans-themed bars around. Arguably the most hidden of hidden bars in all of Sydney.
Address: 44 King St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Wed-Thur 4-11pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-12am
Phone: 0452 197 400
19. Uncle Ming’s
An underground bar off York Street, this Asian-themed speakeasy-style bar is not only one of the best hidden bars in Sydney, but it also has some of the best Chinese dumplings. Pair that with some Asian whiskey and you will be well set up.
Address: Basement/49 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon 4pm-12am, Tues-Thur 12pm-12am, Fri 12pm-1am
20. Palmer & Co
It’s surprising more prohibition speakeasy-style bars didn’t make this list, but Palmer & Co is undoubtedly the hidden bar in Sydney that deserves this honour. Also, if you love cheese with your drinks, this is your spot.
Address: Abercrombie Ln, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Tues 5pm-12am, Wed-Thur 5pm-2am, Fri-Sat 4pm-3am, Sun 5pm-3am
Phone: (02) 9114 7315
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