Sydney’s exceptional hidden bars

Some Sydney bars are more difficult to find than others.

They can be hidden behind fridge doors and seamstress’s shops, or have such nondescript facades you could walk straight by without even noticing.

But once you’re in, you’ll be glad you tracked them down.

The Cumberland

Reclaimed timber and antique brass mix with original convict-laid brickwork in this underground drinking den where.

To find it you will need to step through a 1920s-style fridge door at the Cove Deli in Manly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and descend a spiral staircase.

Yes, this is a Sydney bar.

Once inside, you’ll find more than 250 whiskies to choose from along with craft beers, natural wines and cocktails.

And, if you’re peckish, charcuterie and cheese boards from the deli above can be sent down by dumbwaiter.

Inside the Cumberland, Manly

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Employees Only

When the original Employees Only opened in New York City it was located behind a clairvoyant’s salon on Hudson Street.

These days a neon ‘Psychic’ sign is also found above the speakeasy-style bar in Singapore, Los Angeles and central Sydney.

To find the Sydney bar, follow the psychic sign on Barrack Street and duck down the staircase into the heritage-listed basement.

The cocktail list at Sydney’s Employees Only includes nods to New York with the West Side, while Australia is represented with a cheeky Drop Bear.

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Double Deuce Lounge

To find this underground bar you’ll need to look for the security guard as you turn from George Street onto Bridge Street, in Sydney’s city centre.

The Double Deuce Lounge was named after the dive bar in the Patrick Swayze movie Road House.

Cocktails at Double Deuce Lounge Sydney

But it feels more like it’s tapping into Boogie Nights with its adults-only VHS menu covers and a choice between leather and furry walls for your booth.

As you may have guessed, it’s all about cocktails and flirty fun here.

The Baxter Inn

From the team behind Shady Pines, The Baxter Inn is found in a basement behind another unmarked door in a city centre alleyway off Clarence Street.

Step inside and discover a world of whisky, where the bartenders have a story for every bottle.

Considering there are more than 800 of them, that’s saying something.

Ramblin Rascal Tavern

Near the corner of Park and Elizabeth Streets in the city centre, a black sign with three skulls lets you know you’ve found the staircase to the basement to join the Ramblin Rascal Tavern crew.

Down here the drink of choice is a good cognac, but if you’re not ready to join that revolution you can rest assured that their cocktail game is on point and their bar banter is strong.

Pull up a seat and be entertained.


It may look like a seamstress’s shop with sewing machines and spools of thread.

Stitch Bar Sydney.

But once you step through the doors on York Street in central Sydney and make your way down the grand staircase you’ll find a bar named Stitch.

Take a seat in a leather booth where the vintage lights are low, sip espresso martinis with a whisky and berry twist.

The food at Stitch is incredible.

Try to decide between a classic hotdog and one made with duck sausage, truffle and garlic mayo and foie gras from the American diner-inspired menu.

Earl’s Juke Joint

On the outside, Earl’s Juke Joint, in the Inner West suburb of Newtown, looks like a 1950s butcher shop.

On the inside you’ll find dark timber floorboards, a tin-covered ceiling, posters of blues legends and an inviting, 11m-long bar.

Southern US-inspired cocktails, craft beers and natural wines are the stars of the drinks list.

Shady Pines Saloon

Finding Shady Pines Saloon involves walking down a dark Darlinghurst alleyway and looking for an unmarked white door.

Walkthrough and you’ll find another door that leads to a staircase and you’re in.

Leaving may be more difficult, however, because at this Wild West-themed bar you can drink whisky and apple juice under the gaze of a vintage stuffed buffalo before joining a country singalong while peanuts crunch underfoot.

It’s honky-tonk fun you’ll want to stick around for.

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