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

The Barber Shop

A trim, a shave and a cocktail – you can get all three at this bar.

89 York Street, Sydney

Cantina Ok!

Word of warning: don't bother bringing a large group to this tiny mezcal-centric laneway bar – even if it were completely empty, you probably wouldn't fit. It's by the team behind Tio's Cerveceria. The friendly, knowledgeable staff here will help you navigate the cracking cocktail list with confidence (and you might even end up ordering Sydney's best Margarita).

Council Place, Sydney

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

Maybe Sammy

This Rocks cocktail bar – which is considered among the best in the world – is inspired by the opulence and excess of Las Vegas in the late '50s. It's the cocktail-focused counterpart to the Maybe Frank pizza joints and is the elder sibling of Sammy Junior and Dean & Nancy on 22. The reason for all the acclaim is simple: Maybe Sammy combines flawless service with singular cocktails.

115 Harrington Street, The Rocks

Double Deuce Lounge

Take the founders of Ramblin' Rascal, add a subterranean space and finish it off with a ’70s sheen and you have a guaranteed blockbuster cocktail bar. The vibe of the space – filled with wood panelling, plump leather couches and even a furry shag feature wall – is cool, easygoing and cheesy. A smooth funk and soul soundtrack rounds it all out.

6 Bridge Street, Sydney

Kittyhawk

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

16 Phillip Lane, Sydney

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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The Lobo

Spend a night in the Caribbean, tasting from a selection of 250 rums.

Basement Lot 1 209 Clarence Street, Sydney
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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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Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern

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

199 Elizabeth 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 Skittle Lane, Sydney

Eau De Vie

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

229 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst

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

Arcadia Liquors

An eccentric, yet neighbourly, watering hole.

7 Cope 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

Papa Gede's

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

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

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
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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. Big Poppa's is low-key one of Sydney's best places for cheese-lovers – whether you like it on a platter or inventively deployed across a range of pasta dishes.

96 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

The Rook

Lobster rolls, 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

Jacoby's

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

154 Enmore Road, Enmore

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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The Wild Rover

An Irish-themed drinking spot from the folks at Grandma's Bar.

75 Campbell Street, Surry Hills

Sammy Junior

This is the younger sibling of Maybe Sammy (arguably Sydney’s most acclaimed cocktail bar). It’s an all-day cafe and bar, where you can have cocktails at 10am and coffee ‘till 10pm. Come for half-serve cocktails on tap, strong coffee and a tight menu of versatile snacks.

66 King Street, Sydney

Re–

This sustainable South Eveleigh bar – by Scout London's Matt Whiley – is pioneering a new mode of hospitality without losing focus on smashable drinks. From the furniture (made from pineapple-leaf fibre and recycled milk bottles) to the drinks (crafted with produce destined for landfill), Re– is regenerative and revolutionary.

2 Locomotive Street, Eveleigh