Just because summer has come to an end, it doesn’t mean the idea of socialising over a drink has to come to a sudden halt as well (even if it's over Skype for now during the awful pandemic).
There is a huge array of hidden gems – as well as the more popular choices – that cater to the cooler seasons with their rainy-mood playlists and warmer interiors. Once the pandemic cools down (whenever that may be, but we pray it's as soon as possible), try to switch up the accidental fall into usual patterns of rom-coms in bed with Ben and Jerry’s – although that does sound lovely – and instead, unapologetically enjoy an evening of seasonal cocktails with close ones. Here, we've listed the best picks for autumn.
Located in The Hyatt Regency on Sussex Street in Sydney, Zephyr offers skyline views of the city, decent bar music and oh-so-classy vibes. It’s the perfect venue for drinks after work or the first place to visit on a Saturday night bar-hop adventure.
Zephyr has amazing bar staff with a real zest for the art of bartending – the drinks will not disappoint. Snug up with Zephyr’s wide variety of light and lively reds or fancy-pants cocktails. Enjoy the rooftop views while you snack on a plate of spiced, roasted nuts or duck and brie pita – ideal for a crisp, autumn night. Prices are on the more expensive side, however any conspiracies about watered-down drinks – like at most places – can soon be put to rest after your first salted coconut espresso martini.
– lifestyle writer
Hyde Hacienda Bar + Lounge
Lux Cuban-ispired bar, Hyde Hacienda Bar + Lounge, is tucked away upstairs in the Pullman hotel, and will organically become one of your top bar choices of the season. From cosy lounge settings with clear harbour views, to the array of seasonal cocktails including their famous ‘Campfire Espresso Martini 24’, you will naturally feel right at home – well, in your dream home. It’s like stepping inside of Belle magazine – there is so much character and inspiration to draw from.
If bar food is your forte, you can enjoy a delicious array of options including Tempura Pumpkin Flowers or Crispy Spiced Calamari. No matter your preference – food or alcohol – Hyde Hacienda welcomes seasonal treats in ‘Australia’s iconic playground’ – Circular Quay.
Located in Hyde Park House on level three of the multi-bar venue, Slims Rooftop is undoubtedly an aesthetic marvel. From the floral pink umbrellas to the countless cactuses in every corner, Slims Rooftop is reminiscent of the rooftop bars from Sex and the City.
Pricing is heaven-sent, from their signature elderflower-infused Purple Heart cocktail to their more classic options like margaritas and passionfruit martinis. Slims Rooftop is a true standout in the urban bar scene. And don’t let the Summer aesthetics fool you – Slims has you covered this autumn with their wide variety of food including their popcorn chicken and Slim’s Sunday roast to enjoy during this season's much needed Sunday sessions.
Circular Quay is full of amazing bars, and The Squire's Landing is one of them. There is a distinctive aura when you walk in – it’s lively and social yet somehow passes off as a venue that offers intimate vibes and cosy corners for close ones. From the live music and the energetic atmosphere with fast-paced bar staff, to seasonal wine and punchy pints of beer, The Squire's Landing has the perfect balance that you and your work mates need to enjoy at after work drinks.
Don’t forget their famous modern Australian menu including wood-fired king prawns and octopus, as well as their ironbark coalpit of pork, cider roasted apple with pumpkin and almond salad – all perfect examples of a great autumn lunch.
Step back in time this season at the Hilton Hotel’s classic Marble Bar. Situated on Sydney’s George Street, Marble Bar (from 1893) has kept its old-timey Hogwarts vibe and switched up the playlist with modern tunes: a surreal anachronism perfect for any cosmopolitan sydney-sider or city-visitor.
With aesthetically-pleasing drinks and a Victorian-era inspired interior, the two moulded together work well for a few Instagram-worthy pictures on your night out. Don’t forget to enjoy their autumn-themed cocktail – Autumn in New York – a deadly concoction of tequila, apple liqueur, apple agave and citrus. Pair unique drinks with Marble Bar’s antipasto platter, the icing on the cake for a perfect autumn evening.
Mexican-themed bars and restaurants are a perfect representation of the trending food and drink culture present in Sydney. It seems as though Barrio Cellar has understood the middle ground and doesn’t feel the need to constantly remind patrons they are Mexican-themed. There is nothing worse than a culture-themed establishment stereotyping an entire nation in an almost caricature-like way.
Barrio Cellar, however, opts to rest on their amazingly unique drinks and authentic Mexican cuisine, that fit both warm and cool seasons. Enjoy crispy-fried jalapeno poppers or snuggle up to Barrio Cellar’s special take on loaded fries. You also can’t forget to try their amazing margarita range including their Watermelon Margarita jug which will keep you and your friends more than entertained for a very reasonable price.
From the breathtaking views to the mouth-watering drinks and food, Smoke Bar – situated in Matt Mornan’s Barangaroo House of ‘three levels of fun’ – truly offers the best bar and dining experience Sydney has to offer. With shared menu items like gorgeous cheese platters and in-season edamame beans, autumn never felt like a more desirable time to give Smoke Bar a visit. Cheese platter and flavourful wines… name a more iconic duo!
Nick and Nora's
Travel out to Parramatta to experience one of the best rooftop bars Western Sydney has to offer. Nick and Nora's is known for their wide range of drinks including over 500 international whiskeys as well as their liquid nitrogen-infused drinks.
Nothing says ‘autumn fun’ more than Nick and Nora’s’ 'Whiskey and Martini Masterclasses' that allow patrons to hone their skills further in the art of drink-making. If getting hands-on isn’t for you, sit back and relax with Nick and Nora's’ reasonably-priced canapés – befitting most dietary requirements – with a close group of girlfriends in the warm luxuriousness.
Stillery Bar and Dining
Get out of the crisp autumn breeze and step into the social hub of Sydney this season with $12 dollar cocktails and $10 glasses of wine at Stillery Bar and Dining. Enjoy rooftop views as well as an all-day bar menu including heartier options for the cool season like club sandwiches on freshly baked sourdough.
If you’d prefer to satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for the dessert menu which consists of items like chocolate brulee mouse and lemon myrtle cheesecake. Stillery has what you need this autumn for whatever the occasion may be.
Bitter Phew – the perfect inbetween of a bar and pub – is situated on Oxford street in Sydney and is the perfect place for after-work drinks this season with its saloon vibe and rustic interior, and many rainy-mood classics playing like The Doors and other gems from the 70s.
Its wine list boasts smoky aromas that will quench your insatiable thirst for autumn-favoured booze. And as it is predominantly a beer bar, there is a larger-than-life array of beers on tap perfect for an intimate afternoon with friends.