Darlo Country Club
Slip on your boat shoes and put on your best pastel polo shirt—Sydney is now home to an L.A. country club–inspired lounge bar. If you find yourself at one of the banquettes, set beside an eye-catching piece of rope art that acts as a room divider, you won’t have to queue at the bar when ordering your cocktail; a nifty tableside button will summon service. The Bubbarita (bubblegum-infused tequila with a grape-citrus foam and orange blossom flame) is surprisingly addictive, but not quite as interesting as the El Flamenco Rosado, again featuring tequila but with a base of watermelon juice and Sichuan-honey syrup (235 Victoria St., Darling-hurst; 61/449-998-005)
Gin & It
Sydney has been waiting a long time to reclaim the western side of the city’s harbor. And with the partial opening of the gargantuan Barangaroo development project, it’s now a reality. A sprawling park opened first, with Wulugul Pop Up—a collection of five food and drink vendors—following soon after. The gin joint is not what you would expect; there’s no speakeasy entrance or dim lighting. Instead, the kiosk-style establishment operates out of a shipping container, offering patrons water views and killer cocktails. There are a number of rare gins available with the owners serious about turning their collection into one of the largest in Australia. Still, on a balmy day it’s hard to look past the namesake Gin & It cocktail, a variation on a martini made with barrel-aged vermouth and orange bitters (Wulugul Walk., Barangaroo; no phone).
Just steps from Circular Quay, tapas-and-wine bar Bulletin Place has been packed since it opened its doors in 2012. And now in Surry Hills, sister establishment Dead Ringer looks set to enjoy the same success. But while Bulletin is all about mood lighting and mounds of jamón, the newcomer feels like it has been plucked straight off a Nordic mountain: the crisp and clean decor is complemented by a street-side terrace shaded by an enormous plane tree. The Yuzu Breezer combines yuzu liqueur, Aperol, citric acid, rum, and soda and, like other cocktails, comes served in a bottle with an oh-so-eighties (yet oh-so-cool) Dead Ringer–branded Bacardi Breezer label (413 Bourke St., Surry Hills; 61-2/9331-3560).
This Must Be The Place
Thought spritzers were little more than cheap wine and a dash of lemonade? The exciting drinks menu at this new place will change your mind, fast. Here, the classic lower-alcohol option is given a serious makeover in concoctions such as the Gloss—a blush-pink mix of citron vodka, watermelon-infused riesling, rosewater, and a strawberry shrub—and the Belafonte, which mingles Tio Pepe’s dry sherry, gin, lemon juice, and prosecco. It’s the perfect partner to Spanish-influenced bar snacks like anchovies in a rich tomato oil served in the tin, or tasty chicharons with a chili-and-garlic vinegar on the side. Look out for a second floor, opening mid-year (239 Oxford St., Darlinghurst; 61-2/9331-8063).
The owners of Riley Street Garage—a beautiful Art Deco garage renovated and re-imagined as a grand restaurant—were going to keep Busby as a private space for exclusive entertaining. But public pressure saw them recently relent and open the lounge, set under the garage, to one and all every Friday and Saturday night. Local firm Alexander & Co. has taken care to retain the charm of the onetime mechanics workspace, keeping exposed brick walls and ceiling beams and adding industrial lighting and plenty of leather. Given the popularity of the restaurant upstairs, a spot at the subterranean bar, whiskey in hand, makes perfect sense while you wait for a table to become available (55 Riley St., Woolloomooloo; 61-2/9326-9055).
This article originally appeared in the February/March print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Sydney by the Sip”).