Okay so they are necessarily speakeasies as much as just off the beaten path bars but it’s the idea of it. These are places we were taken by my Australian mates I met back in college. If they had not already been in the know on these places then there is good chance we would have just wandered in to the closest booze closet to our Airbnb and sunk in. So now I am attempting to pass this minimal learned knowledge off to you.
5) Uncle Ming’s
Uncle Ming’s is a peculiar basement bar with an oriental twist. Once you get over the slap of incense and adjust to the crimson interiors, you’ll appreciate the Eastern ambience, reminiscent of downtown Hong Kong. Try the excellent selection of cocktails named after underworld drug lords or range of Asian beers and spirits, and if you’re feeling peckish, sample Ming’s famous pork dumplings. This decadent dive is laidback and comfortable, the perfect setting to lose yourself to a drink or five.
Where: Lower Ground, 55 York St
When: Monday to Friday 12pm – 12am | Saturday 5pm – 12am
4) Sticky Bar
This bar was the most difficult bar to find because you have to find an unassuming door where you’ll see a note with a phone number on it. Text or call the number and you’ll be provided with a password to enter with. When you’re finally in, you’ll find yourself admiring the wingback leather couches, black chandeliers and the white baby piano amongst other curious items that add to the tearoom’s charm. The vibe is slightly illicit, yet rich and attracts a slightly older pack than one would imagine at this quaint bar.
Where: Level 2, 182 Campbell Street, Surry Hills (Enter via Taggarts Lane)
When: Wednesday to Saturday 6pm – 12am
3) Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern
Look for the blue door and three skulls on the corner of the Park St convenience store. This basement bar has an unpretentious, comfortable atmosphere. The mood of the bar can change from country to hip hop depending on which night of the week you decide to step in, but rest assured if you love your drink and your bar tenders boisterous, this is one party you don’t want to miss.
Where: Basement, 60 Park St
When: Monday to Saturday 4pm – 12am | Sunday 4pm – 10pm
2) Absinthe Salon
The first thing you notice when you enter this Parisian salon is a giant gargoyle on the bar and the second, a poster of Marilyn Manson. This unusual bar is an exclusive experience. A personal favourite of all the haunts visited, this olde world parlour is slightly fringe. Adorned with a black lamppost, baroque walls and Parisian curtains, the space feels like Dracula’s underground lair, bizzare, yet weirdly compelling. There’s a three drink maximum due to the interesting and complex nature of the alcohol, but second round down and you’ll probably be dancing with the fairy herself.
Where: 87 Albion Street, Surry Hills
When: Wednesday to Saturday 4pm – 10pm
1) Love Tilly Devine
This sordid back alley bar pays homage to Tilly Devine, a notorious brothel madam and drug lord from the 1930s. A trick to spot, go through Yurong Lane, take the first left and look for the stripped brick façade. Once a dank little storeroom, the split level bar is now an impressive space complete with an open kitchen and wine wall. If wine’s not your poison, enjoy the selection of pale ales and ciders instead.
Where: 91 Crown Lane, Darlinghurst
When: Monday to Saturday 5pm – 12am | Sunday 4pm – 10pm