20 of the Best Bars in Sydney for a First Date
When planning a first date, forget mini golf or escape rooms. There’s a time for unexpected activities but for the initial meeting, all you need is flattering lighting, a romantic ambience and an excellent cocktail (or two). Sydney has a plethora of world-class bars, and the ones listed below cater especially well to creating the perfect situation to let sparks fly.
Hyde Hacienda Sydney, Circular Quay
Few things are more romantic than gazing at the glittering Sydney Harbour, and Hyde Hacienda Sydney has one of the best views in town. Add signature cocktails, private booths and a pumping dancefloor and you have a recipe for a memorable date.
Hyde Hacienda Sydney Bar + Lounge61 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
A handsome space on level two of the QVB, this elegant bar takes inspiration from New York supper clubs; perfect for a mid-week date. Old school cocktails and an extensive wine list will leave you in good hands.
ESQUIRE Bar + BistroShop 1- 4 Level 2/455 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Opera Bar, Circular Quay
It may be an obvious choice, but there’s something about the magic of this spot that puts you in a great mood. On a sunny day, there’s no better place for a drink that will make you fall in love with Sydney all over again.
Opera BarMacquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Re— Bar, Redfern
Sustainability is at the heart at this hip bar and provides a great talking point. Try cocktails with a twist, like a Blood Orange Negroni or a Yuzu and Matcha Margarita.
Double Deuce, CBD
A funk and soul soundtrack, moody lighting and a fur-lined ‘kissing booth’ sets the stage for a great night at this sultry cocktail bar hidden down a flight of stairs. To break the ice, tell the bartender what flavours you like and they’ll whip up something original.
Double Deuce Lounge6 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
The Sunshine Inn, Redfern
Is your date vegetarian? Take them to this friendly spot in Redfern, which has a plant-based menu that champions native ingredients and local producers, and a whole list of ‘Australiana’ cocktails. There’s a snacky bar menu if the date is going well and you want to stay on.
The Sunshine Inn180 Redfern St, Redfern NSW 2016, Australia
Bitter Phew, Darlinghurst
Beer aficionados should head straight to this upstairs spot on Oxford Street. There are 12 taps with constantly changing brews from all over the world, deep couches and a little outdoor garden. If you want a change of scene, there’s a wine bar downstairs.
Bitter Phew1/137 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
Dulcie's, Kings Cross
This underground drinking parlour has perfect mood lighting, velvet chairs and a wall of mirrors so you can do a subtle hair check. It serves only Australian wine spirits and produce; their Sazarac with rye, brandy and absinthe should get you in the mood.
Dulcie's Kings Cross44B Darlinghurst Rd, Potts Point NSW 2011, Australia
Dear Saint Eloise, Potts Point
Grab the seat by the window if you can – the ideal spot for people watching and sampling delicious drops from the 400-strong wine list. The service is seamless at this cosy bar; it has an enticing snack menu if you get peckish.
Dear Sainte Éloise5/29 Orwell St, Potts Point NSW 2011, Australia
Jangling Jack’s, Potts Point
This sultry spot has a lived-in, welcoming vibe that sets the tone for a fun night, with vintage lampshades, dark green walls and a long bar to perch at. The cocktails pay homage to the history of the area – a great conversation starter.
Jangling Jack’s175 Victoria St, Potts Point NSW 2011, Australia
Big Poppa’s, Darlinghurst
If it's a blind date, Big Poppa’s is the place to go – head downstairs to a dimly lit bar blasting ‘90s hip-hop which will fill any awkward pauses. If all goes well, it’s open until 3am and serves excellent cheese plates alongside a lengthy wine list.
Big Poppa's96 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
From the team behind Eau-de-Vie, the idea is to enjoy a cocktail degustation of sorts here – you're encouraged to order three cocktails over two hours. Take one of the high stools, partitioned off with thick curtains, and choose the ‘His and Hers’ option; the drinks incorporate champagne and aphrodisiac syrups.
Apothecary229 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
Manly Wharf Bar, Manly
With a prime waterside location, this is an ideal warm weather spot for lazy afternoon drinks. The place is always buzzing and with live music during the week, DJs on the weekend and Sangria Sundays, there’s always a good day to go.
Wharf BarE Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095, Australia
If sharing a feast of crusty bread and prosciutto slathered in melted cheese is your ideal date, this underground speakeasy does raclette nights on Wednesdays – $40 for two. The leather banquette, reclaimed timber and antique brass furnishing enhances the romantic vibe.
The Cumberland17/19 Central Ave, Manly NSW 2095, Australia
Manly Spirits Co. Distillery and Tasting Bar, Manly
For something different, join a distillery tour with your date for a comprehensive look at how gin (or whisky) is made, with a look at production processes and raw ingredients. Or book a table at the tasting bar for a classic gin and tonic and cheese plate.
Manly Spirits Co. Distillery (Cellar Door/Distillery Tasting Bar/Gin School)Winbourne Industrial Estate, 4A/9-13 Winbourne Rd, Brookvale NSW 2100, Australia
Stowaway Bar, Freshwater
Friendly bartenders, a sunny balcony and magnificent margaritas – this lovely bar is representative of the best of the Northern Beaches. Take a seat in the ‘love nest’, a secluded corner decorated with a ceiling of native preserved botanicals. Hot tip – go on Thursday for $12 classic cocktails all night.
Stowaway Bar18/1-3 Moore Rd, Freshwater NSW 2096, Australia
It’s more of a restaurant than a bar, but you can choose to have a couple of snacks and cocktails or make a night of it with mains if all is going well. A former Mr Wong chef is behind the South East Asian inspired menu, with snacks like tom yum prawn dumplings and duck katsu sandwiches that pair well with a Singapore Sling Spritz (Bombay gin, PAMA liqueur, guava, pineapple, prosecco) or a Chow Sour (Skyy vodka, St. Germain elderflower, yuzu, lychee).
LILYMUT.3.02+3, 03/153 Macquarie St, Parramatta NSW 2150
Allan Grammar, Penrith
With fresh white walls and sage suede bench seats, this wine bar is a welcome break from the underground speakeasys that populate the CBD. A carefully considered (and extensive) wine list, classic cocktails with a twist and bar snacks like lobster rolls and kingfish with watermelon, radish and pomelo will set you up for a great night.
Allan Grammar14-16 Woodriff St, Penrith NSW 2750, Australia
Nick and Nora’s, Parramatta
For a date you won’t forget, head to this rooftop bar, one of the most opulent in Sydney. It has an area perfectly set up for dates, with views of the city, two-seater tables and buzzers to call staff with so you don’t have to leave your date hanging. Start with a plate of oysters and one of the 60 bottles of champagne on the menu and see where the night takes you.
Nick & Nora's ParramattaLevel 26/45 Macquarie St, Parramatta NSW 2150, Australia
Another venue that leans more on the restaurant side but it’s a great first date venue – there’s something about sipping a Campari spritz and sharing a few plates of pasta outdoors that puts you in the right mood. It’s a slick space with concrete walls and a cool palette.
CicciaBella Trattoria + BarParramatta Square, T3/01 153 Macquarie St, Parramatta NSW 2150
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