In Food + Drink

Six Sophisticated Sydney Bars Ideal For Business Meetings

With Sydney’s cocktail culture enthusiastic to say the least, finding a relatively peaceful corner in one of its many cocktail bars can feel like an impossible task.

But while many of its speakeasies can often be found are crammed with locals, and its hotel bars overcrowded, the city does in fact have loads of quality venues where you can sample some of the city’s best drinks without having to shout over constant chatter. In other words, ideal to take clients and business partners to.

Ahead we share six of the most meeting-appropriate Sydney cocktail bars – just don’t tell any one else.

The Cumberland, Manly

Hidden behind a pair of antique 1920s-style fridge doors within a newly opened deli, The Cumberland is the first underground speakeasy to open in the breezy Northern Beaches neighbourhood of Manly.

The bodega-esque deli, dubbed Cove Deli, hides this smartly designed and highly ornate 75-seater small bar underneath its belly of cheeses and cured meats, leading from a spiral staircase into a world of prohibition inspired tipples spanning over 250 whiskies, natural wine, craft beer and a cocktail list designed to hero the history of the County of Cumberland, spanning various themes like “Foraged & Found” and “19th Century Tipples” paired with melted cheese wheels and Spanish tapas.

The classy fit-out of luxurious banquettes and small, intimate corners is perfect for groups looking for somewhere away from the noise of Manly’s more established and rowdy pubs.

Old Mate’s Place, Sydney CBD

Old-Mates-Place Sydney Speakeasy

Image: Old Mate’s Place

You’re likely to spot all types of people stumbling through the unassuming entrance of this convivial two-level rooftop bar, from suited up business workers, to hipsters and the occasional curious tourist. All of whom spread across the antique-styled first floor, and the cosy sun-soaked rooftop.

Inverting the expectation that speakeasies need to be underground, Old Mate’s Place has turned the apex of an historic building on Clarence Street into an infectiously relaxed and homely bar serving up classic concoctions made by some of the most experienced bartenders in Sydney, with a particular preference for using sherry in just about everything they can.

The beautifully curved leather booths towards the entrance feel private enough for groups to carve out their own little piece of the bar, making this ideal for productive meetings away from the typical restaurant setting.

The Swinging Cat, Sydney CBD

Tapping into the understated style and dapper drinking culture that lies beneath all that party-minded pizzaz New Orleans is known for, The Swinging Cat channels the famed U.S city’s French Quarter into one of the most atmospheric among Sydney cocktail bars.

The bar is unashamedly biased towards the classic – and classically strong – Big Easy-born sazerac, a recipe followed to a tee, but lists several other interpretations that bring a fresh new perspective to the timeless concoction. Not bad for a bar that’s hidden underneath a garish Subway outlet.

Any late-night meeting here is bound to impress, escaping from the CBD crowds and breaking from reality to immerse you in a shadowy, seductive speakeasy.

Employees Only, Sydney CBD

sydney cocktail bars

Image: Employees Only

Appropriately swanky and fiercely committed to providing a warm and energetic atmosphere, the world-renowned Employees Only has successfully settled into its Barrack Street location in Sydney’s CBD.

The underground bar is of the same pedigree that began in New York City and now has individually recognised outposts in cities like Los Angeles, Miami and Singapore. And it’s this worldly reputation that has carved this heritage-listed basement into a space teeming with inventive signature cocktails and fancy late-night bar snacks like a 250g chargrilled hangar steak with Cafe de Paris butter, and a full caviar service.

Clients who prefer to charge the ritzier side of Sydney’s bar scene head-on will instantly take to this relaxing space, which offers enough quirks to separate it from others but still remains a finely tuned engine of classic hospitality.

Henry Deane, Millers Point

sydney cocktail bars

Image: Henry Deane

Crowning the Hotel Palisade with a 270-degree vista across Sydney, from its sprawling urban cityscape to the endlessly picturesque harbour, Henry Deane sits as one of the city’s most stunning rooftop bars.

Spread over two floors, with the bottom a cosy hideaway for quieter sessions, and the top a sprawling space of natural light, it remains one of the most exquisite destinations for relaxed business drinkers looking to really impress clients.

Order up some high-quality Australian seafood and strap in for a leisurely session soaking up the city’s epic scale.

The Stillery, Double Bay

sydney cocktail bars

Image: InterContintental Sydney

Tucked away on the second floor of the mansion-like InterContinental Sydney Double Bay hotel, The Stillery is an award-winning, sun-soaked gin bar perfectly in-line with the sensibilities of its relaxed, leafy neighbourhood.

Locally sourced native produce and seasonal freshness are key here, which puts a great emphasis on gins of the world, both in drinks and in its good. Pair up some Four Pillars crispy gin chicken with a classic G&T to take the edge off and set the mood for a relaxed business meeting, or make it a long and leisurely lunch with the bar’s “Art of Ginstronomy” set menu which matches cocktails with a tasting.

(Lead image: The Swinging Cat / supplied) 

Published 04 November, 2019