Sydney's Cosiest Bars to Lift Your Spirits This Winter


Winter is upon us, and for some of us, that means one thing: mulled wine and hot toddy season!

There’s nothing better than coming in from a cold and damp wintry Sydney day surrounded by equally cold and damp Sydney-siders; peeling off your wet coat and sipping a delicious whiskey by a roaring fire. Even better if you can couple it with a tasty platter.

Sydney is home to some stellar rooftop bars, hopping hotels, and swanky clubs. But for those that want to pass winter warming by a fire with captivating conversation and warming beverages, look no further than our curated list of Sydney’s Cosiest Bars!

1. The Doss House

The Doss House is a newcomer to The Rocks and a welcome one at that! It was recently just nominated for New Bar of the Year for the Australian Bar Awards. This unique basement old-world bar celebrates the complicated and bloody history of its surroundings – it’s been home to a boarding house, a bootmakers’, a doctor’s office and even an opium den.

Their whiskey menu is extensive with a collection of over 150 whiskies plus gins, vodka and fine wines. And of course, as with any bar helmed by an Irishmen, a proper pour of Guinness isn’t hard to get. If you’re feeling peckish we’d recommend their premium share platters featuring a selection of pickles, chutney, cheese and meat.

2. Shady Pines Saloon

By this stage, Shady Pines is an institution in itself and is no longer a true ‘secret’ bar. Although, for newcomers, it can be difficult to locate. Just be on the lookout for security hanging around a non-descript door down an alley and you’ll be sure to stumble upon it.

This cowboy-themed themed watering hole comes complete with a taxidermist moose head on the wall, speciality whiskeys, craft ales, sarsaparilla and endless bowls of peanuts. If bourbon is your sauce of choice then you can do no wrong here. Plus, the award-winning bar staff truly know their stuff – they’ve managed to scoop up a few noms for the Bar Awards too. Happy Hour lasts from 4:00pm-6:00pm and is one of the best in the city with $3 house spirits and beers. Cheers to that!

3. The Baxter Inn

Shady Pines’ second venture, and a love letter to whisky. In true secret bar tradition, it’s difficult to find. You can find it in the back of an unmarked alley off Clarence Street. This might sound dodgy, but you’re bound to find a few well-dressed whiskey-lovers heading to this famous spot. Stocked with hundreds of whiskies, as well as all the usual spirits and cocktails. It’s the whisky that’s the real pull though. And in the depths of a chilly wintry evening, what more could you want than a warming Scottish dram?

Baxter Inn is home to almost 800 whiskies from every Islay, Speyside, Highlands, Lowlands and Campbelltown distillery you could think of, as well as Australian, American, Japanese, and Irish drams. The staggering list can be broken down by the very knowledgeable staff. It stocks more exclusive whiskies, rare bottlings and unusual releases and provides a suitably intimate atmosphere to enjoy them in.

4. Grandma’s 

This self-described ‘retro-sexual haven of cosmopolitan kitsch and faded granny glamour’ can be found just around the corner from Town Hall Station. The cosy basement level bar serves up delicious bespoke cocktails and is known for their warming mulled wine, sure to be on the menu as the weather gets even chillier. Order some of their signature jaffles on the side and get cosy at this granny chic bar.

5. Bulletin Place

A stone’s throw away from Circular Quay you’ll find Bulletin Place, a hidden gem consistently touted as one of Sydney’s best bars. Nominated this year for Cocktail Bar of the Year. The cocktail menu of five changes daily based on the best available ingredients, and you can trust us when we say they’re always delicious. Seating only 45, it’s the perfect late-night date night spot that’ll warm up the coldest of nights. Or even a cheeky mid-week cocktail with the girls!

6. Uncle Ming’s 

Step through the door at Uncle Ming’s and you’ll be transported away from a dreary Sydney winter to an opium den inspired celebration of Asia. Featuring the perfect combination of delicious Japanese whisky, cocktails and dumplings, the lighting is dim and the drinks are strong. Give it a few hours and you just might start believing you really are in Asia… or maybe that’s the Japanese whisky talking.

7. Lobo Plantation

Cocktail lovers, rejoice! Yet another underground bar near Wynyard Station – this one comes with a Caribbean-themed twist and a cocktail list, and rum list,  to die for. Decked out in true Caribbean style – think banana palms and rattan chairs. Kick back with a signature drink and a selection of their Cuban-inspired menu. Don’t miss the rum flights with complimentary snacks!

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