The Best Sydney Speakeasy Bars

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Something I discovered when moving to Sydney is that the city is full of quirky hidden bars. If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon one while walking through the city, but most likely, you’ll hear about them through friends (or by reading travel blogs!). So Enrico and I set ourselves a challenge, and for the last year we have been exploring Sydney’s underground bar scene, and have put together our recommendations for the best Sydney Speakeasy Bars.

 

The Best Sydney Speakeasy Bars

 

 

Shady Pines Saloon

Located in Darlinghurst, this basement saloon bar transports you to America’s southern states.  American rock and country blasts out through the speakers and moose heads and stuffed fish adorn the walls in Shady Pines Saloon. The signature drink is whisky and fresh apple juice, an easy to drink delicious combo, accompanied by peanuts – their trademark bar snack.

What to Order at Shady Pines Saloon

Whisky and apple juice.

How to Find Shady Pines Saloon

Head to Foley Street in Darlinghurst, a small lane parallel to Oxford Street. Look out for an open doorway on the righthand side, and once you get nearer you will notice a bouncer lurking in the entrance.

 

The Baxter Inn

The sister bar to Shady Pines Saloon, The Baxter Inn is a must for whisky lovers in the Central Business District (CBD). Not only do countless bottles line the bar (complete with ladder-like an old school library), but there is also a whisky room, full of rare, expensive and unusual whiskies, sourced from all over the world.

 

Whisky bottles on a shelf

 

What to Order at The Baxter Inn

With almost 800 varieties available, this is the place for whisky exploration.

 

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and purchase something I’ve recommended I’ll earn a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay and I only use affiliate links for products/brands I have experienced and recommend. Two whisky cocktails on a table in the bar

 

How to Find The Baxter Inn

Walk to 154 Clarence Street, and then down the laneway into a small courtyard. In the right-hand corner, you will see what looks like a fire escape – head inside and down the stairs and through another door into Baxters.

 

A fire safety door - the entrance to Baxter Inn

A room full of whisky bottles at Baxter Inn

 

Old Mates Place

If I had to choose, this would be my favourite of Sydney’s speakeasy bars. It’s a little different from the majority, as it’s not underground but instead located on the top floor with an outdoor roof terrace. The main bar is beautifully styled, with dark timber and an assortment of unusual knickknacks on the shelves. Climb another set of stairs and you will reach the outdoor roof terrace, with a panoramic view of the city.

What to Order at Old Mates Place

Old Mates Place has a bit of everything and I would definitely recommend the cocktails. They also have a food menu with charcuterie and the speciality – Philly cheesesteaks – with both veggie and meat varieties.

How to Find Old Mates Place

Head to 199 Clarence Street and walk up four flights of stairs to the entrance. It sort of feels like you’re entering an apartment building or perhaps a foreign language school but keep going and you will find it!

 

Two cocktails in front of a bar

 

The Doss House

Located in Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood, the Rocks, the Doss House is a bar with a fascinating history. Built in 1844, the heritage building was, at different periods, a Chinese opium and gambling den, a cobblers and a doss house. (A doss house is a cheap lodging for the homeless and poor.)

Though it’s a basement bar, there is an outside area lit with fairy lights, sheltered by greenery, and inside the bar is separated into four rooms, with décor reminiscent of their former purpose. You’ll find a beautifully ornate opium pipe and cobblers stools, as well as gorgeous antique sofas.

 

 

What to Order at The Doss House

This bar has a great whisky selection and lots of whisky-based cocktails. The signature is The Dusky Scotchman (10-year-old Laphroaig, Branca Menta (a bitter amaro liqueur) saline and honey.)

 

 

How to Find The Doss House

One of the easier bars to find, walk along George Street towards Sydney Harbour Bridge, once you pass the Orient Hotel, keep your eyes peeled for a small black sign above a doorway. Make your way along the corridor and down the stairs at the back and you will arrive.

 

 

Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern

This is such a fun bar. Bra’s, a horse head mask and things I won’t mention in a travel blog(!) hang above the bar. Owner and barman Charlie Lehman is often shirtless, wearing dungarees, and has a beard to rival even the most dedicated Hackney (or Melbourne) hipster.

 

 

What to Order at Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern

Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern‘s drinks menu includes a ‘shit tinnie’ (a tin of beer) for $6, a pretty extensive range of cognacs and whiskies and the signature cocktail ‘Sazerac on tap’ – a cognac based cocktail.

How to Find Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern

Head to the corner of Park and Elizabeth Streets, and lookout for a black sign with three skulls. This is the entrance, and you’ll find the bar down a set of stairs in an old comedy venue.

 

 

Door Knock

One of the more challenging of Sydney’s secret bars to find, Door Knock requires a passcode to enter. Once inside the basement bar, you may be surprised to find plenty of greenery, with vines and hanging ropes along with bare timbers, making you feel like you’re in a woodland cabin rather than a basement bar.

 

 

What to Order at Door Knock

Go for one of the unusual cocktails that include ingredients like carrot and cardamon honey and spiced berry port compote along with macadamia and kiwi. There is also a great selection of biodynamic wines.

How to Find Door Knock

Look for the sandwich shop at 70 Pitt Street, and head down the stairway next door, make your way along a long corridor before reaching a door with a brass pineapple knocker. Knock three times and you’re in.

 

 

The Barber Shop

Hidden behind a real-life Barbershop where gentlemen can enjoy a hair cut or beard trim, this is a gin lovers paradise. The secret bar offers gins from all over Australia as well as spirits from around the world.

What to Order at The Barber Shop

Try one of the gin cocktails or order a gin flight to sample a selection of different gins.

How to Find The Barber Shop

There are two ways to enter the Barbershop. Either round the back through via a laneway on Clarence Street or through the shop and out a back door (when the shop is open) on York Street.

 

PS40

The perfect Sydney hidden bar for those that prefer a non-alcoholic beverage, PS40 creates its own delicious soda’s which can be drunk solo or mixed with a spirit. The sodas are made on-site, in a 500-litre stainless-steel tank, and many feature native ingredients, including ‘bush tonic water’, made with lemon myrtle and native lemongrass.

 

5 glasses filled with different colour sodas

 

What to Order at PS40

smoked lemonade, which is made with water provided from a nearby smoke-house.  Or one of the medicinal themed cocktails.

How to Find PS40

It’s not too challenging to find this bar, the entrance is on Skittle Lane off King Street.

 

 

Have you been to any of these bars? We would love to hear your thoughts!

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