With so many Sydney laneway bars scattered amongst the skyscrapers, it’s hard to know which ones to go to. To save you traipsing across town to test them all, 3 of the very best small bars are now all within arm’s reach – the perfect mini bar hop in the city.
Sydney city has become rich with excellent small bars in recent years. Tucked away behind every doorway and down every alley – the more innocuous the entrance, the better the bar.
But which one do you visit next? Especially if you hate walking, are wearing uncomfortable shoes or just don’t want the buzz of your last drink to wear off before your next.
Thankfully, like some crazy small bar centrifuge, 3 of the best Sydney laneway bars have been drawn together to form a magical trifecta of beards, cocktails and excellent food. It’s like a small bar holy trinity!
3 Sydney laneway bars to visit if you hate walking
If you’ve been out in Sydney more than once in the last 5 years, you’ve probably heard of The Baxter Inn.
But just knowing about this cornerstone of Sydney small bars wouldn’t help much, as finding the entrance is purposefully difficult.
Through an archway, down an alley, round a corner then in through a service door. You then think you’re in the kitchens… which is about right. But then through another door, you come to one of the most unique bars in Sydney.
It’s dark, it’s moody, it’s busy, it’s secluded. And the range of whiskeys is mind-bogglingly mouthwatering… or is that mouthwateringly mindboggling? Both.
Baxter’s is solidly hipster, but not in a wanky way. It’s friendly, atmospheric and fun here. Definitely worth a visit.
The Baxter Inn – open 4pm-1am – Mon-Sat.
My mum used to own a barbers, but it was never as cool as this one! The street entrance on York Street actually does men’s hair, hot towel shaves and ‘beard services’. You walk in through the little barbers to a door at the back.
Down a flight of stairs you’ll find the space opens out into a noisy saloon with great music and a beautiful old style wrap-around bar. But it’s the drinks list that makes this place.
With over 100 different gins and genevers, this place must have the biggest collection in Sydney. If you don’t like gin, this is the place for you. Challenge the bar staff to change your mind. I’m pretty sure they’ll convert you!
Once you’ve got your gin hit, try the rear exit to the bar. It’ll leave you in the alley where the entrance to Baxter’s is hidden. Or if you’ve already been to Baxter’s as well, here’s the crowning glory of your mini barhop.
The Barbershop – bar open 4pm-12am Mon-Thur, 3pm-12am Fri & Sat. Barbers open 8am-8pm Mon-Fri, 8am-4pm Sat.
The Easy Eight The Duke of Clarence
*Easy Eight has become The Duke of Clarence – the most incredible recreation of an English pub I’ve seen. Co-owner of the Barbershop just next door Mikey Enright has brought a little of his British heritage to Sydney.*
Latest to open and so completing the trio, The Easy Eight is tucked away opposite Baxter’s doorway at the far end of the Clarence Street courtyard.
This is the second bar by the owners of Mojo Records Bar, another great little drinking spot in the city.
As Baxter is focused on whisky and the Barbershop is all about the gin, Easy Eight has decided to go for the food. It’s set itself up as a ‘gastro small bar’, and is turning out some amazing dishes.
The chefs in charge – Harry Stockdale-Powell and Jack Bathurst – have come over to the dark side with experience from places like Marque, Rockpool, Sepia, Toko and Becasse. And their knowledge of these top-end restaurants shines through.
The comfortable, booth-filled bar with its funky new take on an old American diner is choc full of ambience, great food and drinks, and friendly service.
The Easy Eight – open 4pm-12am Mon-Sat.
So if you’re up for a barhop but you’re in your best heels or just don’t fancy a long hike between venues, this triathlon in lazy drinking is the way forward.
All of these amazing little bars can be discovered in the laneway on Clarence Street between King and Market Streets – just opposite Red Oak Boutique Beer Café.
Do you have a favourite Sydney small bar? Where do you go for a good drink in your city? Tell us in the comments!