The 10 Best Bars in The Rocks, Sydney

The Doss House interior
The Doss House interior | © Alana Dimou / The Doss House
Tom Smith

The Rocks is packed with some of Sydney’s oldest pubs, but there’s so much more to the neighbourhood’s bar scene than historic hotels. From $10,000 cocktails to underground whisky joints, these are the 10 best spots for a tipple in The Rocks.

1. The Glenmore Hotel

Bar, Pub Grub

The view from the Glenmore rooftop © The Glenmore
© The Glenmore

Climb up the three flights of stairs to the rooftop of the Glenmore and you’ll be left in no doubt as to why this pub sits at the top of this list. The Glenmore boasts 180-degree views over Sydney Harbour, giving pub patrons the perfect view of the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay as they tuck into their schooner and chicken schnitzel. This Cumberland St icon was founded in 1921 and is as popular today as ever – arrive early for a decent spot on the rooftop.

2. The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel

Pub, Pub Grub

The exterior of the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel © The Lord
Courtesy of the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel

The Lord claims the title of Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, pulling beers since way back in 1841. A plasterer named William Wells converted his home into a three-storey sandstone hostel in the 1840s and the pub has remained in its original locale ever since, being brought into the new millennium by extensive renovations and the addition of a brewery. Today, you can taste those craft brews fresh from the source.

3. Blu Bar on 36

Cocktail Bar, Contemporary

Cocktails at Blu Bar on 36 © Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
© Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

The 36th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel isn’t cheap, but the panoramic vistas over Sydney are worth every cent. There’s a long menu of signature drinks on the sophisticated cocktail list curated by a team of talented mixologists, including the Martini on the Rock for a lazy $10,000, which comes with a diamond ring swimming in the glass as well as a room in the hotel.

4. The Fortune of War

Pub, Pub Grub

Fortune of War © Jan Smith / Flickr
© Jan Smith / Flickr

Originally something of a slum, The Rocks has a colourful history, and no venue exemplifies that more than the Fortune of War. Built by a former convict in 1828 then rebuilt by local brewery Tooth & Co in the 1920s, Sydney’s oldest pub was the first and last stop for Australian sailors and soldiers heading overseas from Circular Quay, which contributes to the character of this old-world public house.

5. The Doss House

Bar, Contemporary

The Doss House © Alana Dimou / The Doss House
© Alana Dimou / The Doss House

The whole of The Rocks feels like a blast from the past, and stepping into the basement of this vintage whisky bar on George St truly feels like stepping back in time. The Doss House contains a collection of more than 150 whiskies, gins, vodkas and wines, best consumed with a plate of meats and cheeses from the bar’s charcuterie counter.

6. The Australian Heritage Hotel

Budget Hotel

You might have heard of this well-preserved Edwardian-era watering hole because of its famed ‘Coat of Arms’ pizza, featuring a unique combination of kangaroo and emu meat. The Australian began life on George St in 1824 before a plague outbreak in 1900 forced the government to tear down the building, and made the licensees shift their business to a site on nearby Cumberland St where it remains today.

7. Munich Brauhaus

Craft Ale Bar, German

Steins of German beer © NYC / Flickr
© NYC / Flickr

Welcome to a little slice of Bavaria transplanted into the heart of The Rocks. Formerly known as the Löwenbräu Keller, this Munich-style beer hall aims to bring a taste of Bavaria to the cobblestoned laneways of Sydney, pouring one-litre steins of golden liquid that pair perfectly with huge plates of sausages and pork knuckle.

8. The Argyle

Bar, Contemporary

This heritage-listed sandstone building dating back to the 1820s today houses a bar that offers something for everyone, from the bustling fairy-lit courtyard to the intimate booths and lounges inside. The Argyle is made up of six different bars across two levels – all of them smart-casual, so remember to dress up – and hosts plenty of live DJs and acoustic artists over the weekend.

9. Harts Pub

Pub, Pub Grub

Harts’ history stretches right back to Sydney’s colonial era, originally a private residence before shifting through several pairs of hands before finally becoming one of the city’s premier boutique beer venues. Harts Pub is dedicated to its quality selection of quality craft beers, including 12 rotating taps, two hand pumps and brewery-fresh products from The Rocks Brewing Co in Alexandria.

10. The Rawson

Bar, Contemporary

Cocktail © Chris Pople / Flickr
© Chris Pople / Flickr

Previously known as Bar100, the Rawson Bar is a recent addition to the 100 George St precinct, a multi-level venue that’s home to a series of bars and eateries. The Rawson has benefitted from a nautical-themed revamp, making the old Rawson Institute for Seamen into one of The Rocks’ most stylish watering holes.

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