These days, top bars are more reminiscent of kitchens. Menus can change week-to-week depending on the availability of fresh ingredients, intelligent experimentation is encouraged and good knife skills are a must. That same rigour means classic cocktails are also better than they've ever been.

It’s good news for drinkers, whether you love a Negroni, Old Fashioned or an of-the-moment creation. Better news still: Sydney has some of the best bars in the world.

These are our favourites, ranging from casual spots, to table service venues where the staff wears waistcoats. But without fail, they all know how to mix an excellent drink.

Related pages:
Best Wine Bars in Sydney
Best Hidden Bars in Sydney

Scout

Drinks are made in a lab, fermentation is a big deal and the wine is made with banana.

Level 3 412 Crown Street, Surry Hills
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Bulletin Place

Three world-recognised bartenders. A five-strong cocktail list that changes daily, depending on what's fresh at the market. Yep, this one is something special.

First floor 10-14 Bulletin Place, Sydney

Dead Ringer

A sharp restaurant and bar from the team at Bulletin Place. Naturally, it serves great cocktails.

413 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
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The Baxter Inn

Track down this dim, intimate speakeasy and you'll be rewarded with more than 800 whiskies and bartenders who know what to do with them.

Rear Basement 152-156 Clarence St, Sydney

This Must Be The Place

This bright, Scandinavian-look space is the antithesis of dark and mysterious cocktail bars. The drinks are creative, but avoid showy tricks or gimmicks in favour of balanced, considered and seasonal ingredients.

239 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

Eau De Vie

Meticulously made cocktails in a plush, vintage-look room.

229 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst
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The Roosevelt

The Eau De Vie team's second great bar has a Prohibition theme, and a far more substantial food menu that most.

32 Orwell Street, Potts Point
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Mjølner

A Viking-themed cocktail bar and carvery joint from the Eau De Vie crew. Yes, it's just as outrageous as it sounds.

267 Cleveland Street, Redfern
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The Lobo Plantation

Spend a night in the Caribbean, tasting from a selection of 150 rums.

Basement Lot 1 209 Clarence Street, Sydney
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Kittyhawk

Another rum-heavy bar from the team at Lobo Plantation, but this time the theme is Paris Liberation Day.

16 Phillip Lane, Sydney
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Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern

Whisky, cognac and "shit tinnies" are your reward for finding this rowdy bar. Just look for the three skulls.

60 Park Street, Sydney

PS40

This dramatic-looking cocktail bar has its own soda-making plant, which produces flavours such as wattle cola and smoked lemonade.

40 King Street, Sydney

Shady Pines Saloon

A taxidermy-filled den that's equally about well-made cocktails and straight spirits, bourbon particularly.

Shop 4 256 Crown Street, Darlinghurst

Employees Only

The plush Sydney outpost of one of New York’s – and the world’s – best cocktail bars.

9A Barrack Street, Sydney
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Arcadia Liquors

An eccentric, yet neighbourly, wateringhole.

7 Cope Street, Redfern

Redfern Continental

From cafe, to restaurant, to intimate bar, Redfern Continental at Arcadia Liquors has it all. Come for breakfast, stay all day.

180 Redfern Street, Redfern

Archie Rose Distilling Co.

Sydney's first new distillery since the 1850s serves an impressive range of original cocktails made with its own vodkas, gins and whiskies. Tasting flights are also an option.

85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery

Charlie Parker’s

The low-ceilinged cocktail bar below Fred's shares the same end-to-end approach to produce.

380 Oxford Street, Paddington
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Papa Gede's

A New Orleans-style cocktail bar, with an emphasis on rum.

346-348 Rear 348 Kent Street, via laneway, Sydney

Door Knock Bar

Walk down a long corridor and knock three times on the brass pineapple to enter for cocktails and homey bites.

B2 70 Pitt Street, Sydney
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Hemingway's

A literary-themed cocktail bar complete with menus stapled into the pages of old children's storybooks. But that's as high-minded as the place gets: it also serves chicken nuggets and VB tinnies.

48 North Steyne, Manly

Palmer & Co

Travel to another time with this prohibition-style bar.

Abercrombie Lane, Sydney

Earl's Juke Joint

A rollicking good times bar.

407 King Street, Newtown

Big Poppa’s

Italian food, drinks and hip-hop served until 3am. Yes.

96 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
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Bart Jr.

This compact all-rounder constantly changes its menus, but its cocktails and Euro-inflected share plates are reliably excellent.

92 Pitt Street, Redfern

Bridge Bon Appétit

Hubert's in-house bar affords a voyeuristic view of the restaurant below, plus the chance to drink wild creations such as the Truffled Flip – truffled duck egg blended shell and all, with cognac and crème de cacao.

15 Bligh Street, Sydney

The Rook

Market-fresh lobster, killer cocktails and city views worth toasting.

Level 7 56-58 York Street, Sydney
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Poor Toms Gin Bar

Gin cocktails, seasonal creations from a beautiful German-made still and a bar styled like a church.

6 Chalder Avenue, Marrickville

The Long Goodbye

Dedicated to fast service – a refreshing change when it comes to cocktails.

1 83 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst

Jacoby's

A new highlight destination for date night: tiki cocktails, low lighting and a red velvet curtain.

154 Enmore Road, Enmore

Assembly Bar

There's no pretension in this warehouse – just great drinks.

488 Kent Street, Sydney

Gin Lane

Cocktails that will change the way you think about gin.

16 Kensington Street, Chippendale

Continental Deli Bar and Bistro

Home to the cheeky Mar-tinny and Can-hattan, plus a bunch of other classic cocktails.

210 Australia Street, Newtown
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Smoke Bar

Matt Moran's elaborate rooftop bar with caviar, champagne and waterfront views.

35 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney

The Wild Rover

All the drinks are Irish at this fancy, cocktail-slinging pub.

75 Campbell Street, Surry Hills

Tokyo Bird

Be transported to Japan in this intimate space.

Shop 2 226-228 Commonwealth Street (enter via Belmore Lane), Surry Hills
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The Barber Shop

Get a haircut, have a drink.

89 York Street, Sydney