Sydney battles Melbourne to have the best night scene, with small bars opening at a rate of one per month in NSW. Darlinghurst single-handedly takes the rein with the most venues in NSW.
Sydney’s influx of ‘small bars’ is attributed to the legislation change five years ago, which made it easier and more inexpensive to establish a small wine bar. Since then, authorities have been receiving an unprecedented amount of applications.
Since the late 80s Melbourne has set the pace with small bars scattered throughout the streets and in laneways. Sydney is catching up creating a more cultured and lively bar landscape for Sydneysiders. The NSW Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority (CLGCA) say they are now receiving up to two applications per month since the legislation implementation in 2008.
To match Sydney’s growing small wine bars, New South Wales now has more coveted and noteworthy places to eat than Victoria. According to Australia’s Good Food Guide, NSW topped the nation with 133 Chefs Hats awarded to restaurants across the state. Trailing behind was VIC with 117 restaurants honoured with Chefs Hats.
The small bar capital of NSW is Darlinghurst, with 10 licensed venues. Sydney’s CBD follows with eight and Surry Hills has five.
Small bars are sure to help you enjoy a night out in Sydney. NSW has an increasing number of small bars emerging in basements, garages and lane ways, with some having room for just 15 people. They are quirky and filled with character.
We have put together a collection of small bars which are dynamic and varied, giving you a new approach to a memorable night out:
Lil Darlin is a sensational cocktail and wine bar, with a delicious tapas menu. Lil Darlin is on Victoria Street, Darlinghurst. Oozing great style, comfort and a relaxed atmosphere, this is the perfect place for a night for two or a large group. Sip a hand crafted cocktail like a Tiramisu Martini, whilst feasting from the menu tapas such as warm olives and succulent duck pizza. This place will have you going back for seconds.
The Victoria Room restaurant and bar, is Darlinghurst’s ultra chic establishment and has claimed the ‘Cocktail Bar of the Year’ award from the Time Out Sydney Bar Awards. This is an escape from your everyday troubles and not your average watering hole. The Victoria Room will take you back in time to the nostalgic Victorian era. This exotic dining room and cocktail bar offers a superlative menu, wine and cocktail list. Dining is relaxed amongst lush palms, a backdrop of decorative screens and art work.
Shady Pines Saloon has excellent booze, expert bartenders and an exquisite atmosphere. It’s a country and western bar that will take you back in time to the 1920s. Shady Pines is situated on Crown Street, Darlinghurst. A longhorn steer takes up an entire wall of this bar. Three carved wooden American Indians stand guard around the room along with photographs of moustachioed publicans staring down. Enjoy unlimited peanuts at the bar whilst you sip on a hand crafted beverage, where the bartenders will make anything you want. You can expect delectable cocktails, wonderful beers and the rarest of bourbons. Or if you are not daring enough, you can enjoy your stock standard bevy.
Mille Vini is a charming bar that emulates a slice of Italy. The food is hand crafted and infused with Italian spices. The bar boats a varied array of wines to individually pair with every item on the menu. Millie Vini in situated in a small building in the buzzing stretch of Crown Street between Foveaux and Devonshire streets, Surry Hills. This place is suited for small groups as it caters for an intimate atmosphere. The venue originally was a stonemason’s workshop in its previous life and the new bar retains that industrial feel with exposed roof beams and sandstone walls.
Love, Tilly Devine is an example of where a chef and owner’s great ideas have transformed a dark storeroom, on the back of Crown Street’s Best Cellars, into an excellent little wine bar. This Surry Hills intimate bar and restaurant is packed with character and a wide range of wines. If you are not sure what wine you feel like and want to have a crack without the help of a sommelier, let their wine lists and bartenders guide the way to tantalise your senses. Red wine comes in an old school milk bottle and they also have some ciders and beers.
By Jessica Amir
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