Best Hidden Bars in Sydney

Updated 1 month ago


Sydney’s small bar scene exploded in the late noughties, and all of a sudden it felt like we were living in America’s prohibition era. Underground speakeasies like The Baxter Inn became all the rage, and tracking them down was all part of the fun. Yes, some of the places on this list are some of the city’s worst-kept secrets today. But there’s something super satisfying pushing past that nondescript door on a quiet weeknight, when the service is relaxed and the Old Fashioneds taste best.

  • The celebrated Darlinghurst speakeasy has resurfaced in the CBD – with a serious food menu, 37 signature cocktails and more than 500 whiskies. Enter via a discreet entrance on Wynyard Lane for all of the blazing bartending theatrics you remember.

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

  • Hidden behind the facade of old butcher shop on King Street, you’ll find a lively cocktail bar that’s serious about stiff drinks, but promises a rollicking good time all at once. Come for classic cocktails, shots of Fernet-Branca and Reschs on tap.

  • Find the discreet ground-level entrance, then climb four levels of steep, narrow stairs to reach this hidden rooftop. It’s completely worth it – you'll be rewarded with a killer cocktail bar set against a backdrop of towering CBD highrises.

  • Look behind the old wood door at the back of the Cove deli and you'll find The Cumberland – one of Sydney's finest underground bars. The drinks list includes 250 whiskies, an impressive wine cellar and three distinct cocktail lists. Plus a hearty food offering that includes melty raclette.

  • Sydney’s original speakeasy basement bar is still one of the trickiest to find. Once you do, you'll be rewarded with more than 800 whiskies and highly skilled bartenders who know what to do with them. Plus, bottomless bowls of pretzels and a swinging ’50s soundtrack.

  • Whisky, cognac and "shit tinnies" are your reward for finding this rowdy CBD bar. Just look for the three skulls and descend to the basement – you might be down there for a while.

  • A water feature with a huge buddha head. An illuminated technicolor jungle motif. And stone-stacked walls covered in vines. This hidden, intimate cocktail bar looks like a scene straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

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

    Book a Table
  • A gin bar that covers 200 years of cocktail history.

  • Don't bring a large group to this tiny laneway bar – even if it were empty, you probably wouldn't fit. It's considered one the best tequila and mezcal bars in the world for its peerless selection of rare agave spirits, and the friendly, knowledgeable staff here will help you navigate the list with confidence.

  • A semi-hidden basement bar with excellent cocktails.

  • Lobster rolls, killer cocktails and city views worth toasting.

    Book a Table
  • Take a subterranean space, add a ’70s sheen and a smooth soul soundtrack and you have one hell of a cocktail bar. The vibe of the space – filled with wood panelling, leather couches and a furry shag feature wall – is cool, easygoing and just the right amount of cheesy.

  • Named after the voodoo spirit of lust and laughter, Papa Gede’s is the kind of bar where the energy is always high and your flaming tiki drink is still burning when it arrives at your table. Live DJs and soul bands are on regular rotation here.

  • This basement bar brings a touch of New Orleans jazz to the CBD.

  • Like visiting the Guggenheim, sipping a cocktail at Employees Only in the West Village is a quintessential New York experience. This is the plush Sydney outpost for that same bar – with the same impeccable service, late-night food menu, and yes, even a resident psychic who’ll tell you your fortune.

    Book a Table
  • Spend a night in the Caribbean at this subterranean bar, tasting from a selection of more than 250 rums. If you don’t know where to start, order the flaming house signature: spiced house rum, fresh lemon, sugar and – something you don’t see every day – stout vermouth.

    Book a Table
  • A trim, a shave and a world-class Martini – you can get all three at this dapper, semi-hidden gin bar. There are over 700 gins on offer, and you can sample some of them in a tasting flight led by one of the expert bartenders. Some antipasti and a topnotch burger will help keep you upright.

    Book a Table
  • Descend the staircase and part the velvet curtains to find this plush cocktail bar by the group behind Rockpool Bar & Grill. It’s also serving considered snacks inspired by its sister restaurants Rockpool and Spice Temple.

  • The liberation of Paris is the theme behind this polished cocktail bar from the team behind The Lobo. Settle into sophisticated surrounds for rum and rye Old Fashioneds and French-influenced dishes with modern Australian flair.

  • The CBD is flush with moody basement cocktail bars – but none of them serve grilled Vietnamese snacks and noodle soups alongside their boozy creations. This one does, plus it’s also infusing its own spirits and liqueurs, and sourcing interesting beers from around the world.