We’ve all been out on nights with mates to bars so depressing that it’s put a bit of a damper on our spirits. Yes, drinks may be cheap, but the sticky floor makes you think that this place is a death trap. At the other end of things, we’ve also all been in venues where the ceiling is high, with only the prices of drinks being higher, paying upwards of $20 for the bartender to squeeze some lemon in tap water – or what they pass as a cocktail.
While atmosphere is important, you also want a place where you can be yourself and pass the time with a couple of mates – what bars were made for. We’ve done the hard yards and spent more than a couple of mornings with hangovers that seemed like they would never go away just to compile you this guide to Australia’s best bars which you should visit at least once in your life.
Baxter’s Inn, Sydney
Getting to Baxter’s Inn is one of the most difficult things ever, being located in some dingy alley that wouldn’t be identifiable if not for the long line trailing outside. The only thing more difficult is getting out. With a relaxed atmosphere and knowledgeable bartenders, this is one of Sydney’s finest establishments. It’s also a whiskey bar, with an impressive collection that you’d be tempted to try out if: a) you hadn’t filled up on the bowls of free pretzels, and b) you could afford it. Yes, there are quite a few high end whiskeys here, ones that connoisseurs drool over, as well as more affordable options that, while on the slightly high on the pricing scale, are completely worth it.
Golden Monkey, Melbourne
Voted as the bartenders’ best bar several times is Golden Monkey, a bar inspired by the opium dens of 1920s Shanghai. With a Chinese decor and dimmed lighting, this is one of the most atmospheric bars that you’ll go to, while its cocktails are quite a concoction, with names like the Dragon Egg and Chilli Chocolate Concubine striking equal parts fear and curiosity into the hearts of patrons. An array of delectable Asian finger food ensures that you won’t be left hungry. Tuesday nights are Opium Jazz nights, and are perfect for a laidback night of unwinding, while weekends are much more lively.
Named after the Spanish state famous for its infusion of Arabic and Spanish art and cuisine, Andaluz is a wine bar that lives up to its name. A menu of delicious tapas will leave your mouth watering just looking at the menu, with unbelievably marbled Spanish hams and their signature dishes of Sharkbay scallops, confit pork cheek, PX, and raisins. With leather couches and an extensive cocktail and wine menu, Andaluz has amazing atmosphere, and is on the fancier end of bars, and is well worth a visit.
Joe Bedet has gone all over Australia to find its best bars, but has not had enough space to talk about the places he’s been or the people he’s met. All he can really recommend is a road trip around Australia backed by Westralian Auto Finance.