There isn’t one right way to do New Year’s Eve. Sure, the excitement of the fireworks draws a crowd for a reason, but if you’re after a less chaotic affair there are a bevy of local haunts to visit on December 31.

As millions of revellers swarm the harbour, here are some alternate spots in which to toast the new year.

Clare Bar, Chippendale

The Clare Bar is throwing an anti-New Year’s Eve shindig “for people who want a house party, without the clean up”. “Let’s face it, we’re a bar and pub in Chippendale, you’re not coming here to have the best view of the fireworks,” says Timo Bures, The Old Clare Hotel’s general manager. “But, just because you might not be up for vying for a spot with a million other people doesn’t mean you just want to watch the fireworks on TV. We want to provide a place you can come to, celebrate the new year with friends, good music and ideally meet some new people that have the same idea.”

Pre-purchased tickets are available, ranging from the $400 “fancy one” ($400 behind the bar, a bottle of wine on arrival and a reserved area for four people) to the $100 “bang for buck” ($100 behind the bar plus two house cocktails on arrival). “There are no drinks sponsors, no canapes that you only see passing in the distance, no theme – it’s just a fun night to celebrate the way you want,” says Bures. “Choose a bar tab that works for you and end 2018 with your favourite drink or cocktail.”

Clare Bar @ The Old Clare Hotel
1 Kensington Street, Chippendale

Archie Rose Distilling Co, Rosebery

Archie Rose Distilling Co is the ideal spot for those keen to spend the last afternoon of 2018 enjoying the trifecta of fine food, drink and company. A working distillery located five kilometres from the CBD in the former industrial zone of Rosebery, Archie Rose Distilling Co has revitalised the art of spirit making in Sydney. Visitors can tour the distillery and see its custom-built copper pot stills, brushed steel washbacks and oak casks in action before sampling its wares: gin, vodka, un-aged rye whisky and single-malt whisky. There are the special editions too, such as the Summer Gin Project: Bush and Coast releases. Slide into a booth, order a charcuterie and cheese platter and snack on fennel salami, bresaola, soft goat’s curd and smoked cheddar as you salute the year that was over a Distiller’s Strength Gin and Fever-Tree tonic.

Archie Rose Distilling Co (closes at 10.30pm on NYE)
85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery
(02) 8458 2300

The Unicorn Hotel, Paddington

If your idea of a great night out involves shooting the breeze with a handful of mates over a selection of craft brews, the Unicorn Hotel is the New Year’s Eve venue for you. A pokie-free paradise in the heart of Paddington, the Unicorn is run by a fraternity of hospitality talent whose combined portfolios include stalwart Sydney venues Mary’s, Porteño, Continental Deli, and Young Henrys. When they refurbished the historical Art Deco establishment in 2015, their mission was ambitious: the resurrection of the classic Australian pub. It’s not just beer, darts and pool at the Unicorn – the wine list features a selection of natural Australian wines and the bistro serves up top-notch pub grub. Order a schooner or two and toast 2019.

The Unicorn Hotel
106 Oxford St, Paddington

Imperial Hotel, Erskineville

Forget the fireworks, the most fabulous place to spend New Year’s Eve has to be the Imperial in Erskineville. GirlTHING x BoyTHING are hosting NYE THING, a drag-tastic extravaganza that will take over all three levels of the venue. It’s a hedonistic, all-night affair that kicks off at 9pm and finishes when the last straggle of revellers hits the footpath at 4am.

It’s been a big year for the Imperial, an Erskineville institution and the heart of queer culture in the inner west since 1983. The Impy closed its doors in September 2017 for a much-needed “nip and tuck” and reopened in time for Mardi Gras 2018 with a glamorous new look. The refurbished venue features the Basement, an underground bar and dancefloor and Imperial UP, a new rooftop bar. Grab a $25 ticket for NYE THING before they’re snapped up.

The Imperial Erskineville
35 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
(02) 9516 1766

Sweethearts Rooftop, Potts Point

Spend New Year’s Eve under the stars at Sweethearts Rooftop, an alfresco bar perched on top of the Potts Point Hotel, a stone’s throw from the city. Its leafy setting and laid-back, beachy atmosphere mean Sweethearts is one of the best spots in Sydney to enjoy a balmy midsummer evening – and a retractable roof is on hand if the weather turns.

The Sweethearts NYE party starts at 7.30pm and wraps up at 12am. Tickets are $100 and include a glass of bubbles on arrival followed by a bottomless pour drinks package. Boogie Mountain, on level two of the Potts Point Hotel, will host a post-midnight afterparty with a capacity of 250 people.

Sweethearts Rooftop
Level 3/33–35 Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point
(02) 9368 7333

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with City of Sydney. Follow and use the hashtag #sydneylocal on Instagram for more local secrets.