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The Barfly's Guide to Sydney

by Moderator February 2011 - last edited February 2013 by Community Manager

Who's thirsty? It's cocktail time again, and our Flying Barman Marc Plumridge is on hand once more to offer his favourite spots for enjoying some fantastic summer evenings, Sydney-style.

 

"Cosmopolitan and confident - the two words most commonly written about Sydney as a whole apply even more so to its bar scene. Vast, open, light and airy spaces which take advantage of the city's spectacular natural setting are the order of the day, though there has been much encouragement over recent years to develop more intimate, low-key alternatives. Here's my pick of where to go to experience the best that Sydney has to offer..."

Longrain

Longrain, a modern Thai restaurant and bar, sits within a spacious converted warehouse in the artistic quarter of inner-city suburb Surry Hills, just minutes from the CBD. With a delectable range of cocktails, an impressive winelist and an award-winning menu created by executive chef Martin Boetz, it's easily as popular amongst locals as it is with Sydney's many visitors.

Inside, it's all about original industrial features juxtaposed with modern design twists, set against a backdrop of contemporary Australian art and photography. The uber-sleek cocktail bar attracts the city's chic young urbanites and the overall space exudes a laid-back New York vibe, which ramps up a gear at the weekends.

Let the bartender make you a splendid 'stick drink' - a refreshing blend of fresh fruit, vodka and ice, muddled with an enormous wooden stick, or a Ping-Pong cocktail, like the one below.

Longrain, 85 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills

Café Sydney

Cafe Sydney © Cafe Sydney

Cafe Sydney © Cafe Sydney

Circular Quay's Cafe Sydney is uniquely situated on the rooftop of Customs House overlooking the harbour, and offers one of the very best views in Sydney. Make the most of it by nabbing a well-placed table on the outdoor terrace - perfect for long summer lunches or a sultry late-night rendezvous - or dine inside and admire the city through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

Cocktails at Cafe Sydney © Cafe Sydney

Cocktails at Cafe Sydney © Cafe Sydney

Right now, the Summer Cocktail Menu is in operation, and it's truly extensive. Bring out your fruity side with a Hurricane - a zingy blend of passion fruit, orange and lime juices shaken with Bacardi Superior and Bacardi 8 rums, or an Office Fling martini - white peach, lemon zest and vanilla sugar, drawn together with Grey Goose La Poire vodka, vanilla liquer and cloudy apple juice.

Cafe Sydney, 31 Alfred St, Circular Quay

Pocket Bar

Pocket Bar is one of Darlinghurst's newer establishments and is absolutely capitalising on the need for more intimate spaces throughout Sydney.

Pocket is currently the height of cool. It's main sofa-stuffed room is the perfect size and the atmosphere is buzzy without being overwhelming: you can still have a conversation without feeling like you're yelling. And if the graffit-art that covers the walls inspires you, pop next door to alternative art gallery Outré, specialists in contemporary and underground pop art.

The cocktail list is clean, simple, and delivered with confidence. My choice from the broad selection on offer would be the Pocket Spring Punch, an invigorating combination of Bacardi Gold rum and fresh fruit simply spritzed with champagne, or a classic Cazadores Margarita - always sure to hit the spot.

Pocket Bar, 13 Burton St, Darlinghurst

Ivy Pool Club

Sydney's Ivy complex, created by 'playboy' entrepreneur Justin Hemmes, is a huge six-level nightlife and dining venue arranged around an open-air central courtyard complete with towering trees and trailing ivy teased perfectly into position.

Culinary choices include New York-style grill Mad Cow, premium burger bar The Kitchen, and intimate wine bar and bistro Ash St Cellar, while those seeking just to imbibe are even more spoilt for choice.

An ex-recipient of Time Out Sydney's Bar of the Year award, The Ivy Bar is the main hub, and describes itself as a 'sophisticated urban playground', while The Den is an intimate but lavish Art Deco-inspired cocktail lounge. The real place to be seen though, has got to be the Ivy Pool Club bar - there's genuinely nothing else like it in Sydney. A glittering turqoise swimming pool takes centre-stage, and the cool mid-century styling of the surrounding private cabanas, decked out in a fresh '50s yellow and white, are like something straight out of Miami or Palm Springs. Lie back and enjoy a fresh Bacardi Mojito under the scorching Sydney sun, or even better - laze the afternoon away on a gigantic inflatable swan.

Ivy Pool Bar, 320 George Street, Sydney

Iceberg's Dining Room and Bar

Proudly perched atop the cliffs of South Bondi, Iceberg's Dining Room and Bar overlooks the most famous beach in Australia. The location alone is enough to draw the crowds, but this modernist white cube also houses one of the finest restaurants and bars in Sydney. Iceberg's Australian-Mediterranean menu, cool, glossy decor and the majority of its patrons are all seriously high-end, but they're surprisingly unpretentious too. Despite the gorgeousness of the surroundings, a laid-back casual beach vibe is what you get here, not attitude. For an aperitif, try a South Side Martini or a Venetian Spritz. Sashay over to one of the stylish low sofas or hanging wicker egg chairs, make yourself at home and imagine you're an extra in a photoshoot for Achitectural Digest.

Iceberg's Dining Room and Bar

Iceberg's Dining Room and Bar

Iceberg's Dining Room and Bar, 1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach Virgin Atlantic fly to Sydney via Hong Kong. Log on to virginatlantic.com for the very best fares.

Check out Marc's other Barfly guides to London and Los Angeles. Have you ever been to any of the bars mentioned here? What did you think of them? Do you have any other Sydney bar recommendations? Share them with us in the comments below.


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Comments
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Tweetsthatmen2 February 2011
This post was mentioned on Twitter by vtravelled, Troy Cairns. Troy Cairns said: The Best Bars in Sydney | vtravelled Blog: And if the graffit-art that covers the walls inspires you, pop next d... http://bit.ly/ihhn9L
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MelvynEptein February 2011
Sounds absolutely fantastic
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MelvynEptein February 2011
I've never been to Australia but reading this i would like to go more than ever
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AngelaClements February 2011
Looks great. Wish I was there.
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daniellewoodya February 2011
The above ticks all the boxes for me,off to book my tickets now and take up these recommendations in person.
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JacquelineIrvi February 2011
Absolutely fabulous - would love to visit Australia one day and of course fly with Virgin x
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GeorgeRexStap February 2011
Did I win trip to Melbourne?
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christine February 2011
Sounds like Sydney is a great place to visit. But when are you going to fly to Perth? have heard rumors but still waiting.
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Pam February 2011
Sounds like the Paradise I have been looking for!!!!When can I go?
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Conner February 2011
aaaahhhh yes please......
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DanielForeman February 2011
Well, highly unoriginal of me I appreciate - but I'd give my sister's (and mum's) teeth for the chance to go to oz.
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MarleneFitch February 2011
What an excellent idea (your blog), does make one want to go - lookes stunning, sunny and relaxing! Especially after having the coldest winter in 120 years here and feels like the wettest too!
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Barry February 2011
It looks fantastic. I want to be there - now !! but it's just a liftime dream at the moment. One day maybe.
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Rich February 2011
Cafe Sydeney is the best restaurant in Sydney, eaten there every time I have been, amazing views, brilliant food and great wine. Even in the colder months you can sit on the balcony under heaters with blankets provided.
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Tricia February 2011
A visit to Melbourne and a ticket to the Grand Prix would fulfil 2 of my 'bucket list'wishes......
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SteveDavies February 2011
Hi

I've tried the Ivy - It's fantastic!

Virgin upper class looks awesome from the back seats, maybe I'll get to try the in-flight bar one day.....

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lilapandya February 2011
WOULD THINK TWICE ABOUT TRAVELLING WITH VIRGIN ATLANTIC (ALTHOUGH WOULD LOVE TO GO TO AUSTRALIA). FLEW JUST 2 DAYS AGO ON UPPER CLASS AND WAS MADE TO FEEL AS IS THEY WERE DOING ME A FAVOUR ALL THE WAY! VIRGIN DID NOT EVEN HAVE A MEAL FOR US AND THE CREW TOLD US THEY WOULD "SACRIFICE" THEIR MEALS AND GIVE THEM TO US! PLLLLEEEEASSE!! AND WHEN WE ASKED FOR ANY SORT OF ASSISTANCE (WITH THE SEAT, ETC), WE WERE MADE TO FEEL AS IF WE WERE BEING A NUISANCE AND INTERRUPTING THEIR "REST TIME"!! AFTER PAYING ALL THAT MONEY TO TRAVEL UPPER CLASS (OUR FOURTH TIME ACTUALLY), WE REALLY WOULD THINK TWICE ABOUT TRAVELLING VA!
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February 2011
Hi Lila,

I'm very sorry to hear you didn't experience the best of Virgin Atlantic on your recent flight. We pride ourselves on our crew and reputation for friendly service, so it's always disappointing to hear we haven't put our best foot forward. If you would like me to investigate this further for you, can you please email me your flight details, date of travel and booking reference. My email is kyle@fly.virgin.com.

Kyle Thorne

Social Relations Manager.

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RogerCryer February 2011
What a dream, Melbourne,see my family, the Grand Prix, cocktails overlooking the sea, its a dream and like the tribal fella in crocodile dundee, I'll have to think my way there
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HelenMontgomer February 2011
Have been to Oz twice but didn't try any of these lovely bars. Walked past the Iceberg on Bondi but didn't try it and now really really want to! Melbourne would be great to revisit as only got a few days there last. Beautiful Country and would love to visit again and live eventually!!
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AAnne-Mari February 2011
Oh, if only!!
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AnitaStokes February 2011
It was interesting reading Lila Pandya's comments about their trip. About 18 months ago I went on a flight to NY for cousins wedding and on return trip, I had to "ask" can we have dinner ? They had forgotton to serve us (three of us) and then we had no choice in dinner and was told we would be eating their meals !!! How bad did I feel. I have to say it wasn't the best flight I had experienced, there were other things I had to ask for aswell but my partner thought I was being "picky". I do prefer Virgin to all other airlines and they usually look after their customers but on this occasion I not so sure they did. Sorry :(
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February 2011
Thanks Melvin - hope you make it out there one day.
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February 2011
Excellent - let us know what you think of them!
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February 2011
Well we're ready and waiting to fly you there :)
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About the author: Maxine

Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.