The Oaks, Neutral Bay
As evening falls in Sydney there are few dreamier ways to enjoy a brew than beneath the glorious, fairy-lit tangle of The Oaks’ 70-year-old oak tree. The garden pavilion here has been a sunny Neutral Bay go-to for decades, and remains an extremely civilised way to spend an afternoon.
The bar favours an eclectic range of craft beers from across the country, including Sydney’s own Lord Nelson and James Squire to Fremantle’s White Rabbit (WA) and Spotswood’s Two Birds (VIC). The food offering is wide-ranging and assisted by the pub’s own in-house butcher – or as the venue calls it, “meatatorium”.
Behind the facade of this excellent corner pub you’ll find an upstairs bar with the roof removed, giving you an uninterrupted view of the open sky. From Monday to Friday between 4pm and 7pm there’s a happy hour that includes a selection of local and craft beers. Rather than compete with local restaurants, Darlo invites you to order something in from its neighbours, which will deliver you burgers, pizza and Thai food.
The Glenmore, The Rocks
On top of the Glenmore Hotel in The Rocks sits a rooftop bar with a hell of a 180-degree view across Circular Quay. There’s been a pub on this spot for more than a century – the Glenmore says the site was most likely occupied by some of the first white settlers in the country. Sip your beer with the knowledge that this is the view the First Fleet had when it stumbled ashore – give or take a few skyscrapers.
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay
A postcard view, picnic benches, maritime flags … and an ice-cream stand. Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is on the Watsons Bay beachfront, near the ferry. It has quite the view back across Sydney Harbour: sand, palm trees and the city skyline fade into the distance. The bar has Coopers, James Squire and Mount Kosciuszko on tap, and plenty more in bottles. It gets pretty busy on a summer’s day, lending it a beach-party atmosphere.
The Newport, Newport
This huge garden overlooking Pittwater is a Sydney institution, and its recent rebirth has given it a modern kick without removing that wharf-front-bar vibe. The Newport is divided into a few different spaces arranged around food, from pizza and platters to fish and chips. Instead of table service, order via the venue’s app, which can also be used for the valet service (you read that right).
This playful use of technology continues across the venue: see also the phone chargers powered by exercise bikes. It’s around an hour north of the city, but worth the road trip.
Sweethearts Rooftop BBQ, Potts Point
If you’re sick and tired of those endless, breathtaking ocean views, climb seven flights of stairs above the Sugarmill Hotel for a glimpse of the rooftops of Kings Cross. This patio right in the middle of Potts Point has beer (and wine) on tap, alongside a simple Mexican-inspired menu. Perfect for basking in the afternoon sun.
During the hotter months, Sweethearts rolls out the projector and turns the rooftop into an outdoor cinema – another reason to stay after dark.
This article is part of the Summer Craft Beer Quarterly presented in partnership with James Squire.