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The Best Whisky Bars in Sydney for the Truly Adventurous

The Best Whisky Bars in Sydney for the Truly Adventurous

21 Aug , 2018

Sydney has a lot of great whisky bars. The adventurous whisky lover can find everything from incredibly extravagant (and incredibly expensive) American prohibition-era themed bars to Japanese bars to lumberjack bars, plain Jane whisky establishments, and even a warehouse-and-garage themed bar.

The list below shares maps, hours, and other vital details about the town's top 20 places to sample a single malt or expert blend. These fine bars and restaurants serve whisky rare and popular from all around the world, including varieties from Japan, Taiwan, Scotland, New Zealand, Canada, America, Ireland, and Australia.

The bars in the list below may be very different from each other, but they've all got at least one thing in common: They serve up great whisky and the perfect atmosphere in which to savour it.

1.The Baxter Inn

The Baxter Inn is Sydney's retro-American, speakeasy-style whisky bar. It's got almost 300 whiskies on a wall-mounted list that looks like a departure board at Atlanta airport.

To get here, you sneak down a dodgy laneway and enter through an unmarked door. Inside it's cozy and relaxed, with quiet music (great for conversation). If you're a little overwhelmed by the cliff of whisky bottles behind the bar (accessed by ladder) don't worry. The bartenders are very friendly and they know their stuff. They'll set you up with the perfect dram in no time.

Hungry? They've just added decent pub food to the menu. (In the past they only did pretzels). The place gets extremely high marks on TripAdvisor from over 600 guests, and judging by the selection, service, and the atmosphere, that's not surprising.

  • See a review in Gourmantic.
  • Website: http://thebaxterinn.com/
  • Phone number: +61 2 9221 5580
  • Hours: Mondays-Saturdays 4pm-1am, Sundays closed 
  • Address: 152/156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000

    2. Eau de Vie's Whisky Room

      This place is hidden, hidden, hidden. It's a secret and elite Sydney whiskey bar, so secret that it's not even on Google maps. Inside, it's incredibly posh, with tooled leather and inlaid wood tables, walls of recessed, backlit liquor cabinets, and everything lit up gold by candles and hidden lighting.

      The bar is quiet and sophisticated, chock full of innovative concoctions like The Aviator, a cocktail made of juniper and rhubarb puree, shaken with Beefeater and lemon juice, served up with a tiny paper plane on a cloud of cotton candy.

      They've also got 40+ pages of whisky in the menu, and if you're hungry you'll dine on elegant fare like oysters with mignonette, canapes, meats, cheeses and warm baguettes.

        3. Clock Hotel's Whisky Room

          The Clock Hotel's Whisky Room is a fine Sydney bar with a warm, comfortable atmosphere of leather bound books, vintage maps, fishing rods, and raw wood. In other words, the perfect place to take a stroll through 100+ carefully curated whiskies on offer.

          All corners of the Earth are represented here, with whisky from New Zealand, America, Islay, Japan, and Taiwan. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and eager to share their love of the rich liquor.

            4. J&M

              J&M is a haven of old world elegance. This posh, plush Sydney whisky bar is tricked out in sleek leathers, rich velvets, and copper accents, with comfortable and strategically placed Chesterfield couches. There's also a long, glass-topped bar, inset with custom haberdashery cabinets, and a specially imported drinks trolley.

              Of course all this is a setting for the real gem: a list of whisky options that you're hard-pressed to find anywhere else in town. There's also a short food menu, if you find your stomach needs something in it other than Yamazaki or Lagavulin.

              • See a review in Concrete Playground.
              • Website: http://merivale.com.au/
              • Phone number: +61 2 9240 3000
              • Hours: Monday-Thursdays 5pm-12am, Fridays 3pm-2am, Saturdays 5pm-2am, Sundays closed
              • Address: 1 Angel Pl, Sydney NSW 2000 

              5. Grain Bar

                At the Four Seasons luxury hotel, the Grain Bar is one of Sydney's best known, best loved whisky bars. Off George street, it's warm and welcoming within, with lots of wood and timber and a collection of 180+ whiskys both local and with far-flung origins.

                A trip to the Grain Bar is an introduction to just how many-faceted the world of whisky is. The bartenders are well-versed in their craft and ready to help you find your perfect dram. Here's a tip: Go on Monday and take advantage of the "Whisky Mondays" offering of 20% off all whiskies and $30 for a flight of any four.

                There are also wines, craft beers, and cocktails for non-whisky-lovers in the mix. If you're hungry, they've got excellent bar food in the form of charcuterie platters ($26), gourmet burgers, whiskey cured salmon ($14) and the like.

                6. Marble Bar

                  If the setting improves the whisky, Sydney's Marble Bar may just have the best-tasting whisky on Earth. We'll get into their great liquor list in a minute. For now, take a look at the pic above. Looks like something from an elaborate movie set, doesn't it? The bar is beneath the Hilton Sydney. In it, you're surrounded by over 100 tonnes of marble, ornamented with intricately carved wood, fitted brass, a finely detailed plaster ceiling, and a gallery of Edwardian paintings.

                  This is a 121-year-old space to kick back in and enjoy your whisky. The selection is presented by region. Not just "scotch," but scotch from the lowlands, highlands, the islands, Islay, or Speyside. They've done the same geographic splitting trick with offerings from Japan, America, Canada, Ireland, and yes, Australia.

                  Oh, food, right. Yes, they've got it. It's tasty and not outrageously priced either, with a wood-fired pizza for $24 or truffled French fries with cheese for $14.

                  • See a review in Gourmantic.
                  • Website: http://www.marblebarsydney.com.au/
                  • Phone number: +61 2 9266 2000
                  • Hours: Sundays-Thursdays 3:30pm-12am, Fridays 3:30pm-2am, Saturdays 3:30pm-3am
                  • Address: Level B1/488 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

                    7. Stitch

                      My favorite quote about Stitch in TripAdvisor is that it's a "bourbon drinker's Disneyland." This place is a Sydney whiskey bar with a tailor theme. Decorated with antique sewing machines and sewing tables, you access it from a nondescript door on York Street, then head down below street level into a tiny, crowded, low-lit space with comfy booths and a few coveted tables. It's pretty crowded and amiable here at peak hour.

                      The food consists of hot dogs and other pub fare. The whiskey selection is rangy and the staff know all its ins and outs, right down to their own Solera whisky cask aging system. This bar is a happy find for the adventurous among us.

                      • See a review in Concrete Playground.
                      • Website: http://stitchbar.com/
                      • Phone number: +61 2 9279 0380
                      • Hours: Mondays-Wednesdays 4pm-12am, Thursdays-Fridays 12pm-2am, Saturdays 4pm-2am, Sundays closed
                      • Address: 61 York St, Sydney NSW 2000

                        8. Parkside Bar

                          At first glance, the parkside bar looks more like a place for beer, wine, and a deep-fried PB&J sandwich (yes, they do that, and it's legendary) than a place a whisky purist can settle down amid his peers and spend a happy, glowering night.

                          But wait! Don't let the casual comfort of the interior fool you. Amid the wood and stone decor and high backed leather armchairs is a liquor selection deeply loved by a regularly-meeting group of whisky devotees.

                          Regular Dram Club gatherings continually streamline the offerings, so amid the great single malt selection, you'll also find Ardbegs, Tobemorys, Glens, Bruichladdichs, and several independent malts. Want to join said whisky club? $40 gets you in, with $8 shots of anything your heart desires and three free pours per month.

                          There's dinner too, with good prices like a $10 burger on Tuesday or $10 hot wings on Monday nights.

                          • See a review in Timeout
                          • Website: http://www.parksidebar.com.au/
                          • Phone number: +61 2 8399 0303
                          • Hours: Sundays-Thursdays 11:30am-11pm, Fridays-Saturdays 11:30am-1am
                          • Address: 495 Cleveland St, Redfern NSW 2016

                            9. Shady Pines Saloon

                              If you're looking for a homey, cozy, friendly, and above all secret bar in Sydney with American bourbon whisky and American music, look no further than the Shady Pines Saloon. This cowboy-themed bar has it all: great drinks, a great American whisky selection and great bartenders who know it back to front.

                              The bar's near Oxford Street. It's tricked out with giant moose heads and stocked to the gills with Knob Creek Rye, Old Grand Dad, and other whisky legends of the American Southeast.

                                10. Uncle Ming's

                                  Another subterranean Sydney whisky bar, this adventurous little place purports to be the brainchild of a reformed Chinese opium den protection money racketeer.

                                  Within, it's all red-lit and oriental decor. The menu has a decidedly Japanese whisky focus. There are lots of themed oriental cocktails on offer in case you've got a non-whisky-lover in tow. There are also some rare finds, like the award winning Kavalan Solist Vinho whisky from Taiwan or the Yamazaki 18.

                                  For the peckish, sample delicacies straight out of Chinatown (or for that matter, Shanghai) like pork dumplings in a bamboo box, tempura prawns, or crab claws, all for around $10 each.

                                    11. The Roosevelt

                                      A sibling of Eau de Vie, The Roosevelt is that rarest of Sydney whisky bars: the one that's not concealed behind a secret, unmarked door. With full street access, this Pott's Point bar's a fun find. It's got a 1950's Mad Men feel and some astoundingly good food.

                                      It's also got a great cocktails menu for drinkers of all shapes and sizes, but that doesn't mean the whisky gets short shrift. On the contrary, they've got a great whisky list with some real rarities, including a few surprising favorites from Japan.

                                      The bar also holds one of the best whisky master classes in Sydney, according to TheAuReview. There are different slants on this, from Whisky 101 to their Single Malts Class to Whiskies of the World, and you can also customize your own.

                                      This bar takes its name from Teddy Roosevelt, and as you kick back with your malt, you can rest secure in the knowledge that Frank Sinatra once performed here live.

                                        12. Rockpool Bar & Grill

                                          If you want to pull out all the stops for Sydney's most stylish restaurant and whisky bar (according to Timeout), then hit the Rockpool Bar & Grill. The prices are nothing to laugh about, with grass fed ribeye at $60 and a Black Forest trifle at $25, but the experience makes up for it.

                                          The bar's Manhattan style, art deco interior is a cathedral to whisky, with big marble columns and separate dining rooms. In one, you'll find 6500 Riedel glasses, couched in backlit metal brackets. Meanwhile, recline in heavy chairs of wood and leather amid welcome smells of leather, wood fire, and grilling meat.

                                          This is not a dedicated whisky bar, but it's got a handsome whisky list and very knowledgeable staff, and if you're ready for a dose of real Sydney extravagance, this is the place to get it. 

                                            13. Sokyo Lounge

                                              For the full Japanese whisky bar and restaurant experience in Sydney, don't miss the Sokyo lounge. This place has one of the best Japanese kitchens on the continent, according to Timeout. The staff here are very knowledgeable and serve up excellent sushi and great cocktails.

                                              It's a very popular bar not least for the good selection of Japanese whiskies, including Nikka straight from the barrel – a must try for true aficionados. And I'm not just saying this: don't miss the macchiato ice cream with whisky foam. It's a huge hit with literally everyone who tries it.

                                              • See a review in TimeOut.
                                              • Website: https://www.star.com.au/sydney/nightlife/sokyo-bar
                                              • Phone number: +61 2 9657 9161
                                              • Hours: Sundays-Thursdays 7am-10:30am 12pm-2pm 5:30pm-10pm, Fridays-Saturdays 7am-10:30am 12pm-2pm 5:30pm-10:30pm
                                              • Address: Level G, The Darling The Star/80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009
                                              • Make a reservation with OpenTable.

                                                14. Shirt Bar

                                                This is just a plain old, good Sydney whisky bar in Sussex Lane. Shirt bar is so-called because it's also a shirt shop, but you could make the leap that it's called that because the clientele aren't all dressed in suits.

                                                This is, pure and simple, a whisky-lover's haven. They don't have the biggest selection, but they've got some good picks (like Tasmanian Overeem for example). This is a very unpretentious bar, specializing in just whisky.

                                                The atmosphere is a nice surprise as well. It's spacious, with a roomy outdoor area. This is a place where you can actually have a conversation while you enjoy your well-aged malt.

                                                • See a review in Concrete Playground.
                                                • Website: https://shirtbar.com.au/
                                                • Phone number: +61 2 8068 8222
                                                • Hours: Mondays-Tuesdays 8am-8pm, Wednesdays-Fridays 8am-10pm, Weekends closed
                                                • Address: 7 Sussex Ln, Sydney NSW 2000

                                                  15. Tokyo Bird

                                                  Here's a fun, small Sydney whisky bar for the adventurous. Tokyo bird is an inviting place tucked down an alley in Surry Hills. It's packed with cozy booths and a well-lit bar that serves up sake, cocktails, food, and of course whisky.

                                                  The bar is stocked with more than 80 Japanese whiskies, with popular varieties like Hibiki and Yamazaki, but also rarer finds like Ichiro's Malts. The bottles are displayed where you can read them from a barstool, and the bartender is happy to supply you with ready-printed tasting notes.

                                                  The food is excellent and affordable. Nibble on tasty lotus root chips for $6, or spring for lip-smacking yakitori skewers with a dozen different styles and ingredients from $7 for two.

                                                  • See a review in Gourmantic.
                                                  • Website: http://www.tokyobird.com.au/
                                                  • Phone number: +61 2 8880 0788
                                                  • Hours: Mondays-Saturdays 4pm-12am, Sundays closed
                                                  • Address: Commonwealth St & Belmore Lane, Surry Hills NSW 2010

                                                    16. The Wild Rover

                                                    The adventurous whisky lover will find a lot to love in Sydney's Wild Rover. This is an intimate two-level bar with a seating capacity of 120. Once you pass the inconspicuous green door, you're greeted by a vibrant interior of exposed brick and Irish folk songs, with cozy booths and wood-topped tables. The copper-topped bar isn't huge, but the bartenders behind it are experienced. Along with well-designed menus, they take the guesswork out of ordering your perfect drink.

                                                    The bar's emphasis is on Irish whisky, with offerings like Connamera, Medeira, and Bushmills 21 year-old. Other countries are represented too, such as Australia, the U.S., Scotland, and Japan.

                                                    The food is good and reasonably priced, with oysters on the menu and sausage rolls for $7. This is a nice change from the extravagance of Sydney's many high-end whisky joints.

                                                    • See a review in Gourmantic.
                                                    • Website: http://thewildrover.com.au/
                                                    • Phone number: +61 2 9280 2235
                                                    • Hours: Mondays-Saturdays 4pm-12am, Sundays closed
                                                    • Address: 75 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

                                                      17. Keg and Brew

                                                      If you're not into elegance, try the down-to-earth Keg and Brew. This Sydney bar is focused on American bourbon whisky, craft beers, and hearty fare like burgers or steak and chips. Overhead, taxidermied heads of bison, moose, and reindeer set the tone.

                                                      It's a very popular place, with a mixed crowd of diners and revelers perched on barstools or reclining on the deep-button leather chesterfields. The staff are friendly, and the list of bourbon and Tennessee Whisky is well worth the trip.

                                                        18. Ramblin' Rascal Tavern

                                                        Ramblin' Rascal is a whisky bar for those traditional souls who'd rather drink their dram in Sydney instead of 1930's America. Find the three skulls emblem on the corner of Elizabeth and Park, then head down below the fray to that novelty of novelties: an Australian themed bar.

                                                        Created by a bevvy of ex-Baxter Inn bartenders, this bar has a great selection of local wines and beers, plus a wide whisky selection for those in search of aged excellence.

                                                          19. The Hayberry

                                                          This low and intimate Sydney whisky bar is tricked out in exposed brick and raised booths. It's got an impressive collection of Scottish and American whisky, with accommodating staff who're more than happy to guide you with suggestions. The food is good, if a bit on the dear side, with a Borderlands burger you'll fall in love with.

                                                          • See a review in Good Food.
                                                          • Website: http://www.thehayberry.com.au/
                                                          • Phone number: +61 2 8084 0816
                                                          • Hours: Tuesdays-Thursdays 4pm-12am, Fridays-Saturdays 12pm-12am, Sundays 12pm-10pm, Mondays closed
                                                          • Address: 97 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest NSW 2065

                                                             

                                                            20. Riley St. Garage

                                                            Riley street garage is a restaurant and bar first, and a whisky bar second. That said, it's worth a visit for the atmosphere alone.

                                                            The space is big, high-ceilinged, and beautiful, with a warehouse-inspired industrial design and a large central bar. The food is excellent and affordable if not cheap, with selections like beef carpaccio, oysters, or sashimi fish and chips. If you're feeling adventurous, this is a nice, different place to sample a wee dram.

                                                              Conclusion

                                                              Sydney is chock full of fantastic whisky bars. Many are secretive, off the beaten path, hard to find, but all are worth an evening or an afternoon. The point about Sydney's whisky scene is, it doesn't matter if you're rich and looking for extravagance or just hunting for an intimate place to enjoy a dram in style. Sydney has got something for you.

                                                              From the elegance of the Marble Bar and the Rockpool Bar & Grill, to the cozy cameraderie of the Shady Pines Saloon or the Keg and Brew, to Japanese whisky bars like Sokyo Lounge or Tokyo Bird, Sydney's got a venue to please spirit lovers of every type and temperament.

                                                               

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