Recently, we’ve seen brand new operators arrive on the drinking scene in Sydney and old institutions reinvent themselves.

This list brings you the best new bars in Sydney right now – the places that took a step back and considered doing something different.

The Lansdowne Hotel
Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham of Mary’s and the Unicorn Hotel have revived the legendary Lansdowne Hotel while avoiding all possible clichés. With natural wines, and VB on tap, and the Banana Old Fashion, it’s an homage to the old while touching on the new. Sydney artist Jess Cochrane’s artwork is refreshing; images from vintage porn mags line the menu, walls and even the ceiling. We can't wait to have a couple late ones at this wild character of a pub.

Paddo Inn Bar and Grill
This Paddington local launched a fine-dining concept menu last September. But after empty seats followed, co-owner Matt Moran transformed the space into a more casual drinking venue. You'll find plenty of hearty reds and older vintages on the wine list, as well as plenty of up-and-coming winemakers such as Alex Head and Mac Forbes. The cocktail list is seasonal. For winter, the rum-coffee cocktail comes with toasted marshmallows, and the Old Fashioned is sweetened with maple syrup. We also recommend the botanically infused Archie Rose G&T, garnished with fresh juniper berries.

Howard's Cantina
Situated above Erskineville’s local hotspot, The Rose of Australia, Howard's Cantina celebrates the late Howard, a member of the pub family for three decades. The cocktail-oriented bar is open-plan and full of greenery. We recommend the Smoking Negroni, made with applewood-smoked Grand Marnier and Archie Rose gin. You could also try the Rose Spritz with Aperol, strawberries, fresh mint, prosecco and a dash of soda.

Dear Saint Eloise
The sole focus here is wine. The team behind Waterman’s Lobster Co and (Love, Tilly Devine), Jasmine Natterer, Matt Swieboda and Nathanial Hatwel (Mercado) have compiled a 400-strong wine list. Like a directory, the list is educational, affordable and easy to follow. Wines by the glass start at $10, but there are many more expensive European wines, too. The owners love their Riesling, so trust their recommendations.

Sneaky Possum
Chippendale’s new local, Sneaky Possum, takes advantage of what’s in its backyard. Find murals by local artists on the walls and beer on tap from nearby Wayward Brewery. The long bar that runs through the venue hosts a range of rare tap beers, including a Balter IPA, Thirsty Crow and its own brew, Possy Pale Ale. You can enjoy a $5 happy hour Monday to Friday from 5pm to 6pm.