While the concept of going out for a few drinks has, of recent, been turned on its head. Enjoying the intimacy of a few friends (or that special someone) has taken the forefront of Sydney’s bar scene. We may miss the crowds and the spontaneity of a wild night out, that’s not to say there are still some memorable (or not so) nights out in the best places to enjoy the “new normal” in the form of a glass of wine.
Note, these are unusual times, so check the venues for updated opening hours.
Want to go where the locals go? This neighbourhood hangout self proclaims a passion for “good booze, good food and good times”. Spearheaded by a local legend, Bart, this is the place to be for a solid wine list to choose from. Including your pick of the natural selection. it is alright if you come a bit hungry, there is a fantastic menu ranging from feeling peckish to full-on dinner.
Family Meal Tuesday’s: $35 for a bowl of weekly changing pasta and a glass of natural wine, $14 Negronis & Spritzes
Bottle Shop: Check out the selection of take-home wine bottles.
92 Pitt St, Redfern NSW 2016
+61 401 899 845 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tue: 5pm-10pm, Wed-Thurs: 3pm-late, Fri-Sat:12pm-late, Sun: 12pm-9:30pm
By now, any Sydney sider would be well acquainted with Ash St. and the Ivy precinct. What some people may not know is that in the last year this well-known hospitality haunt has been through some significant growth. One such addition is the sister venue to Merivale’s French bistro Felix. Little Felix has taken the classic brasserie and morphed it into old school Parisian fare in a much more intimate setting. Unique to the venue, wine is served and poured from the magnum which is a service choice by Merivale Master Sommeliers Franck Moreau and Jean-Charles Mahe. Not to say that every visit there needs to be a commitment to 1.5 litres of wine (though impressive that may be), your fermented grapes can also be purchased by the glass, carafe and bottle. If the initial offering doesn’t catch your eye, there will definitely be something found on the 70-page menu which also boasts French Champagne and the sparkling variety.
Nick’s pick: This is a go-to place to do for a “quiet drink” or catch up with a good friend. Sitting here, you should expect to get comfortable and not have anywhere else to be. I usually can’t go past the house Rosé (2018 Château la Tour de l’Evêque) and a plate of Fromage on arrival. Usually, by the end, hours have passed and my wallet wishes I had just committed to a bottle in the first place.
2a Ash St, Sydney NSW 2000.
+61 2 9114 7372
Tue-Thu, Sat: 5pm-late, Fri: 3pm-late.
Bibo Wine Bar
A Portuguese, Mediterranean fusion nestled in the heart of Double Bay. Here is the type of place where you come for the wine and stay for the food. With the ethos that drinking and eating go hand in hand, this is the fine dining love child of former Bennelong Head Chef Jose Silva and Guillaume Paddington Restaurant Manager Jonathan Mallet. The result is the perfect balance of relaxation and refinement in a casual setting which will surely bring you back time and time again.
Nick’s pick: Though the focus here is catered towards a selection of world-class wines from Australia and the beyond (not to mention exclusive releases from the private cellar) I have recently fallen in love with the art of the European Aperitif, which Bibo has plenty to choose from.
7 Bay Street, Double Bay NSW 2028
+61 2 9362 4680 | email@example.com
Mon-Fri: 4:30pm-12am, Sat: 12pm-12am
The Dolphin Hotel, Wine Room
Otherwise referred to as The Dolphin’s “Side Bar”. This local hideaway is an unexpected surprise tucked away in the well known high energy venue. The wine on offer has a focus on the producer, farms, and sustainability which you can expect to find a wide range of wine (particularly natural) among the selection.
Bottle Shop: Adapting to the lockdown restrictions of the past year, The Dolphin Hotel has produced one of the more unique takeaway options in the area. The idea here is that your home wine selection is carefully catered to and selected by the team behind the wine room. By providing your budget, wine type, and taste preference the selection will be perfect for any occasion.
412 Crown St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
+61 2 9331 4800 | firstname.lastname@example.org
By now you may be starting to see a common denominator. In Sydney, where good wine is found, good food is sure to follow. This is again the case at Bondi’s local wine bar. Once you mentally digest the list of all-natural wines, food from the charcoal robata grill almost seems like a no brainer. Another common excellence of wine choice is the European influence and Australian local selection, you will be sure to find something of your taste here. This is somewhere to keep in mind for an off the cuff date night with lighting that is just right and a welcome warmth that comes from hospitality excellence.
251 Bondi Rd, Bondi, NSW 2026
+61 2 9130 2894
Tue-Fri: 6pm-late, Sat-Sun: 3pm-late
Located within the Paramount House Hotel, the team behind the famed Ester has once again produced a comfortable, casual place to drink with the foundation of high-class service. Following suit from other venues on this list, Sommelier Julien Dromgool sources wine from the natural, interesting, and a little funky side. Focussing on regional varietals, the drinks menu is 160 choices deep which will keep you entertained from beginning to end.
Paramount House Hotel, 74-76 Commonwealth St Surry Hills, NSW 2010
+61 2 8860 0808 | email@example.com
Tue-Fri: 5pm-late. Sat:12pm-late
You can’t have a list of Sydney Wine Bars without including Timeout’s Sydney Wine Bar of the Year 2020. Rightfully so, this newcomer to the area has captured the hearts of the locals by keeping things simple yet elegant. For the first time on the list, everything in this venue is about wine and then more wine. There are some things to nibble on but that certainly isn’t the draw factor for coming. With wine by the glass specials changing often on a rotating blackboard menu as well as guest winemakers. This is the place to try something new or find the perfect combination of your preferred tastes.
Bottle Shop: If you do end up falling in love with your glass, there’s an option to take a bottle home! Choose from a selection of wines that are on offer to purchase.
236 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
+61 481 759 182 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tue-Thu: 4pm-11pm, Fri: 4pm-12am, Sat: 12pm-12am, Sun: 12pm-9pm
10 William St
Another neighbourhood gem, this Paddington side street hide away is another example of a marriage of culture. Blending seamlessly Italian lifestyle with Australian influence, the main event (the wine of course) includes white, red, orange, and natural pours which the team here are quick to make their recommendations. This is also a place where you could come hungry, with a seasonal food menu that draws on those Italian flavours to compliment the glass in hand.
Nick’s pick: Come here ready for anything. The team here has a certain attitude that is just too good to ignore. Within five minutes of arrival, my waitress already had selected a superb glass of orange wine and set me up for a successful afternoon.
10 Williams St, Paddington NSW 2021
+61 2 9360 3310| email@example.com
Tue-Thu: 5pm-late, Fri-Sat: 12pm-late
Coogee Wine Room
Just a short walk from the shoreline, this two-story wine lounge boasts to be the first Wine bar in the area. With local owners, there is particular attention to detail in capturing the spirit of the neighbourhood, much like an extension of the beach itself. This venue takes the broody European Wine room concept and replaces this with a carefree Aussie attitude and brightness from the nearby sunshine, but still with all the great wine you would come to expect. With choices of over 400 world-class wines, there is an opportunity to be transported with each glass (or bottle) all from the comfort that is beach culture.
Nick’s pick: This is usually a stop when coming to Coogee, even for just one glass on the way to Coogee Pavilion or somewhere with a change of pace. A great landmark for meeting friends before dinner or a main event. I would suggest looking at Coogee Wine Room’s event page whenever you do decide to come to the area, as they frequently have guest cellar door tastings.
222 Coogee Bay Rd, Coogee NSW 2034 +61 2 9665 5478 | firstname.lastname@example.org Tue-Fri: 4pm-late, Sat-Sun: 2pm-late
She Loves You
A wine bar with no wine list? It could only work well at a local spot such as this. Sophie Otton (Sommelier from Billy Kwong) has worked hard to build a space that invites experimenting with flavours in a space that is comfortable. Wines here have been handpicked and are meant to be tried. Meaning that no two visits could be the same. The rotating choice has clear attention towards Australian producers, but that’s not to say some international influence creeps its way onto the selection from time to time.
Nick’s pick: There isn’t much of a food list here, but the venue does allow BYO from any other local spot along King Street. This is the kind of place I would bring a book to enjoy some time to myself, or even write my next top Sydney list. The space is small and intimate not the sort of place to bring more than a couple of friends, but definitely worth a stop for a long catch up or conversation.
530 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
+61 4 0261 1783
Thu-Fri: 5pm-12am, Sat: 3pm-12am, Sun: 3pm-10pm
If you know of a great wine bar in Sydney, let us know. Would love to check it out and make the list.