There’s always room for a drink at one of Sydney's best bars, but it’s always fun to try somewhere new too. This is our edit of Sydney’s best new bars from the past 12 months, updated monthly. Some could become your new favourite; others may just be good for one memorable night. All are worth a try.

Here’s a tip: come hungry. A lot of these bars have killer menus that deserve to be explored.

Related Pages
Best Bars in Sydney
Best New Restaurants in Sydney

Saga Bar

Fabulously over-the-top, or a little too much? That’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves ever since we first visited Saga Bar. It’s hidden behind two big wooden doors. Inside, it looks like the temple from Indiana Jones got taken over by a handful of elite bartenders with an eye for kitsch (as in: the water feature with a huge Buddha head, the illuminated technicolor jungle motif throughout and the abundance of gold leaf). Actually, we’ve decided – Saga Bar is definitely not too much. It’s a perfect bit of silliness in time for summer. And when the drinks and vibes are this good, a bar can look however it pleases.

49-51 Goold Street, Chippendale

Stanley's

Stanley’s used to have a Wes Anderson theme, but since getting new owners it’s traded Anderson’s pastels and whimsy for a Miami Vice theme. We think it works. There’s a tropical party vibe throughout: from the teal and flamingo-pink walls to the jazzed up cocktails (should a Piña Colada come with popcorn in it? You decide.) Regular DJ sets and a courtyard are nice features too. For food, look no further than the Vegemite and truffle toastie. Now that the weather’s warming up, this place is one to watch.

79 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst

Mary's Pitt Street

One day, a new Mary’s opening won’t be an event anymore. But if the queues that have been snaking out of Mary’s Pitt Street are anything to go by, we’re a long way off from that day. The Pitt Street outpost of the Mary’s burger clan – which ambush-opened in September out of nowhere – is smaller than other members of the family. But it felt fully formed from day one; the sort of opening that only a hospitality team at the height of their powers can pull off. So why is Mary’s Pitt Street an event? The burgers are still unsurpassed, the drinks (the focus here is on rum cocktails) are as interesting as ever and the vibe and menu is fun and inclusive.

410 Pitt Street, Sydney

The Cumberland

Looking at the Cove Deli – selling cheese and cured Spanish meats – you’d never know it’s hiding one of Sydney’s finest new underground bars. Look behind the old wood door at the back of the deli and you’ll find The Cumberland. The drinks list includes 250 whiskies, an impressive wine cellar, and three distinct cocktail lists. Of the latter, the Foraged and Found menu is the most interesting: it includes the Dandelion Espresso Martini, which uses both the flower and its root, and the Lilly Pilly Sour, which mixes the shrub with lemon myrtle tea, gin and lemon.

17-19 Central Avenue, Manly

Coogee Wine Room

It’s exciting to have a bar like Coogee Wine Room in the area. Its exposed-brick walls and its sophisticated touches – such as the polished-concrete floors that are easy to sweep sand off – show that it’s still of the beach. There are more than 400 wines to choose from, and a considerable amount of them are available by the glass. Former A Tavola chef Sandro Di Marino presides over the kitchen. His menu is all about wine-friendly, Mediterranean-inspired small plates. For something simpler, a classic cheese and charcuterie board is a good call.

222 Coogee Bay Road, Coogee

Cantina Ok!

Word of warning: don’t bother bringing a large group to Cantina Ok! – even if it were completely empty, you probably wouldn’t fit. The whole idea of the place – a mezcal-centric bar in a tiny garage at the end of a delivery laneway in the middle of the CBD – is just so unlikely. But that’s exactly why we love it so much. Cantina Ok! Is from the team behind Tio’s Cerveceria, the tequila- and beer-loving bar in Surry Hills. And here it’s bringing that friendly service and obsession with Mexico to a granular focus on mezcal. The result is fun, delicious and surprisingly educational.

Council Place, Sydney

Isabel

Bondi’s Isabel walks the line between restaurant and wine bar. It bills itself as an izakaya – Japanese venues that are just as focused on food as they are drinks. But it’s worth coming here for the drinks alone. There’s a sizable line-up of whiskies, sakés and cognacs, and they’re put to good use across a range of inventive cocktails that incorporate everything from burnt miso to quandong (a native Australian fruit). Isabel also makes its own wines – when Broadsheet visited we tried a persimmon and rhubarb wine, which had been fermented for 18 days.

L103/180-186 Campbell Parade, Bondi

Maybe Sammy

Maybe Sammy is inspired by the opulence and excess of Las Vegas in the late ’50s. It’s the cocktail-focused counterpart to the two Maybe Frank pizza joints (one’s in Surry Hills, the other’s in Randwick) and it’s made an instant mark. In July, Maybe Sammy was named the world’s best new international cocktail bar at the prestigious Spirited Awards. It’s great recognition for a spot that tactfully combines flawless service with superior cocktails.

115 Harrington Street, The Rocks

Double Deuce Lounge

Take the founders of one of Sydney’s most popular bars, add a subterranean space and finish it off with a ’70s sheen and you have a guaranteed blockbuster cocktail bar. The Ramblin’ Rascal crew has gone classy with its second spot. But even though there are no “shit tinnies” here, Double Deuce still has the tongue-in-cheek flair (backed up by big-time drinks know-how) that makes for a great night out. 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

The Marrickville Hotel

Pascale Crouche-McDonald considers her Marrickville Hotel a pub in spirit and a bar in approach. That means a space that’s approachable and friendly paired up with great service and drinks-seriousness. Now that it's summer, make a beeline for the courtyard (if you can snag a table).

244 Marrickville Road, Marrickville

The Old Fitzroy

So, we know a pub that’s been open since 1860 isn’t new. But we feel The Old Fitz and its new owners deserve recognition for what’s been done to the place. It’s always tricky to take over an institution – to balance people’s expectations with making it your own – but this old boozer is nailing it. The drinks are, of course, great but it’s the food, by ex-Sepia and Quay alum Nicholas Hill, that’s particularly noteworthy. Try the raw beef on dripping toast, or the rissole sandwich with beetroot and cheddar.

129 Dowling St, Woolloomooloo

Little Felix

Little Felix is more than a waiting room for French bistro Felix. Thanks to a Cognac and Cointreau-heavy drinks list and a bar piled high with towers of French cheese cut to order, Merivale’s latest opening is a destination in its own right. It’s all set in an opulent, pale-emerald room replete with comfortable dark-toned leather lounges.

2 Ash Street, Sydney

Bar Clementine

At this laid-back new Pyrmont bar, most wines are Australian, many are French, and several are natural, but there are no rules about provenance or style. Bar Clementine’s owners, Eric Mendoza and Monica-Paula Zotti, instead wanted a list that focused on wines made with authenticity and integrity. The food here also takes a slightly different direction to the well-trodden Euro-leaning path that most other wine bars go down. Past dishes have included egg with gochujang (fermented Korean chilli paste); and a lamb backstrap with kipfler potatoes and enoki and fish roe. It’s all in a minimalist art-deco space flush with marble and timber.

52 Harris Street, Pyrmont

Reign

The QVB is a stunning building built in the Romanesque Revival style. And now it has a champagne parlour and bar with views out over George Street to match its extravagance. There are more than 150 champagnes and sparkling wines at Reign. Some are from A-list producers such as Mumm and Dom Pérignon, while others come from smaller-scale labels with their own niches. If bubbly isn’t for you, there are cocktails – signature and classic – as well as a menu of pan-European food.

Level 1, Queen Victoria Building 455 George Street, Sydney

The George Hotel

Since relaunching in April, Waterloo stalwart The George Hotel has gotten just as much attention for its tacos as it has for its drinks. The in-house taqueria here is run by Ghostboy Cantina, and it's fusing Central American flavours with Southeast Asian ones, with very delicious results. Top of the line-up is the Taco Al Pastor, a freshly made corn tortilla filled with pork neck marinated in a house-made adobo sauce. Then there’s the classic fish taco: fried pieces of battered gurnard, loaded into a warm tortilla with finely shaved cabbage and radish.

760 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo