The Best Hidden Haunts For After-Work Drinks In Your City
Happy hour is short. Use it wisely.
There’s no doubt about it: When it comes to world-class bars, Australia does them pretty darn well. Whether it’s salubrious speakeasies in Sydney or edgy Melbourne hidden gems, finding your after-work drink fix in the Lucky Country has never been easier.
But with such a plethora of choice, it’s often difficult to choose where to settle into a dark and cosy booth and imbibe your favourite tipple. So, whether you’re out to impress or are keen to unwind (responsibly, of course), here are some of the best and most brilliant after-work haunts in Sydney and Melbourne.
Bopp & Tone
One of Sydney’s newest bars and eateries, Bopp & Tone is opulence redefined. With decor and menus that conjure the nostalgia and optimism of Australia’s post-World War II era, this is exactly the sort of place to suggest to your colleagues or your boss when you want to impress them. Don’t miss their Wattleseed Old Fashioned, a delicious Aussie take on an old favourite, or the tomato-infused martini.
Palmer & Co
Speaking of nostalgia, it would be criminal to leave Palmer & Co off this list. This underground prohibition-style bar celebrates a time when booze was banned, but free-flowing. Whether it’s surveying a bustling Friday night crowd, Maker’s Mark Old Fashioned in hand, or relaxing with the delectable Parallel To Paradise in a cosy corner, you’re always guaranteed a good time at this Merivale speakeasy.
(And, if you’re looking for somewhere to kick on, try the Tank Stream Bar next door.)
Looking for a place that packs a serious after-work punch? Look no further than Papa Gede’s, one of Sydney’s favourite small bars. Come for the Tuesday night comedy, stay for the crazy good cocktails. Get zesty with the Citrus Cure or rock out to the Hotel California (Maker’s Mark bourbon, Amaro Montenegro, Angostura bitters, lemon juice and orgeat syrup, shaken and served martini-style). Or just go for the always profound mint julep – you know you want to.
The Doss House
There are whisky bars, and then there are whisky bars. The Doss House is certainly the latter. A former opium den in The Rocks, this is the sort of place you’ll instantly fall in love with. Here, you can sink into a deep leather armchair, nurse a rare or exclusive whisky (or whiskey), and contemplate life.
Try the similarly elegant J&M, an impressive whisky and bourbon bar tucked discreetly above the Angel Hotel in Sydney’s CBD. Will the real boulevardiers please stand up?
Secreted away in an elegant underground den below the dining institution that is Fred’s, this neighbourhood bar in Paddington takes a chef’s approach to drink-making. By utilising and reimagining seasonal produce, bartenders here explore interesting flavours, techniques and ingredients – like soy sauce and evaporated coffee – to make cocktails you couldn’t dream up.
Head in for the delectable cocoa butter cocktail (full of yummy banana mead, bourbon, dark rum, and Amaro) before popping upstairs for dinner.
Manly’s famous Mexican joint now has a CBD offshoot that’s food-focused but doesn’t take it all too seriously. With a feel that’s fun and comfortable, this place is big on yummy eats and deep on delicious cocktails. Think fish tacos, cactus salad, and Maker’s and ginger.
This offbeat basement restaurant focuses on grilled and smoked meat (drink in the smoky wafts when you enter), with a thirst-inducing range of craft beers and bourbon. Hidden beneath Little Collins Street, Meatmaiden has an awesome cocktail list chock-full of inventive tipples like the Trashed Avo (Maker’s Mark bourbon, avocado and dill shrub, lime, mint). Dry-aged cuts of meat hang behind a luminous window where carnivores congregate.
If you like steak and you like bourbon, this is your happy place.
Ok, so you need to wind down, let off some, steam and forget about work for a while. Campari House has got you covered. With five levels of fun that includes two rooftop bars, this gem has been a Melbourne favourite for years. Slip in to the Cocktail Bar & Lounge, secure a secluded booth, and sip on some of the tastiest cocktails this side of the Yarra. Try the sumptuous 50 Shades of Violet or an ol’ faithful Old Fashioned.
Sitting opposite the Victorian grandeur of Parliament House, The European enjoys icon status among Melbournians and visitors alike. Come for a business lunch or a weekend brunch and turn it into an all-day affair, sampling the delights of both the food and drink menus. Head upstairs to the smart-casual and ultra-swanky Melbourne Supper Club (order a Maker’s 46 over ice for proper supper club vibes) or one level further to the rooftop bar of Siglo and find yourself in cocktail heaven.
Doc Martin’s, Collins Quarter
Doc Martin’s at Collins Quarter is where you want to be for a fun night out with friends. Whether it’s nibbling on complimentary snacks during their weekday Aperitivo Hour or tucking into the smokey, tea-infused take on an Old Fashioned (The Double Smoked Old Fashioned, in case you were wondering and, yes, you should go and order one right now), this tiny hole-in-the-wall is full of good vibes.
Pop next door for some dinner at Colin’s Diner or continue the party at the Blind Alley Bar, drinking in the complete Collins Quarter experience.
Beneath Driver Lane
Descend into another world at BDL – one of blues, cocktails, French bar food, and late-night revelry. Occupying an old bank vault in Melbourne’s CBD, this basement blues bar is one of the city’s finest. Say “Oui, monsieur” (that’s actually the name of one of the cocktails) to live music and late-night Reuben sandwiches.
Fancy a cucumber and lavender Old Fashioned? You got it! Then finish it all up with a Kansas City Shuffle.
Up your after-work drinks game by heading to some of your city’s finest venues to experience Australia’s best Old Fashioneds. Participating venues include: Charlie Parker’s, Palmer & Co, Campari House, The European and many more.
(Lead image: Charlie Parker’s supplied by Merivale)
Published 05 June, 2019