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Six of the Most Impressive Restaurant Bars in Australia

Sure, these venues might be known for their food — but their excellent bar programs make them worthy pitstops for drinks, too.
By Concrete Playground
December 20, 2021
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By Concrete Playground
December 20, 2021
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SIX OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE RESTAURANT BARS IN AUSTRALIA

in partnership with

Sure, these venues might be known for their food — but their excellent bar programs make them worthy pitstops for drinks, too.

The restaurant bar is a curious beast. In recent times, it's gone from being something of an afterthought — at best, a prelude to the main event — to a considered part of the experience in many a restaurant. At its best, a restaurant bar is a destination in its own right.

In partnership with Hennessy, we've lined up some of the most impressive restaurant bars in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for when you want to elevate your next night on the town. Round up your crew, get the Henny flowing and your night is set.

  • 6

    Located in the Sydney CBD, Kittyhawk is a French military-inspired bar serving up custom cocktails and Parisian street food so good they deserve a freakin’ medal.

    Taking its name from a US fighter jet, Kittyhawk takes you back to the historic French liberation, when US and French troops celebrated liberté, egalité and fraternité on the streets of Paris. Inside this little time capsule on Phillips Lane, you’ll find walls decorated with original wartime posters and memorabilia, while an impressive 12-metre-long handcrafted American oak bar serves over 900 spirits.

    The menu/airplane manual, designated for “official use only” lists a range of top secret bevvies, which are accompanied by handy engineering-style illustrations. On the regularly rotating list, you’ll find no less than ten takes on the old fashioned, as well as an extensive selection of rum, whisky and, bien sûr, a selection of spirits from France. It’s time to party like its 1944.

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  • 5

    From the mind of the prolific Chris Lucas (Chin Chin, Hawker Hall, Kisume) comes 80 Collins venture, Yakimono — a two-storey Japanese diner with a street food menu that’s fuelled by fire. An ode to the late-night izakayas of Tokyo — where Lucas spent three years living and working — it’s serving a fresh riff on Japanese street eats, melding classic flavours with a touch of Melbourne flair.

    It’s a moody yet colourful space, with digital art and clever lighting lending a futuristic edge. Both the central open kitchen and the bar feature ringside seats for those wanting to be close to the action, while the Corner Room boasts private dining for up to 14 guests.

    In keeping with the spirit of izakayas, the drinks here are as much a focus as the food. The bar is pouring ten beers and four wines on tap, alongside a selection of bottled vino and sake that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A range of Japanese-accented cocktails and bubble tea rounds out the liquid fun. Try nabbing a seat at the bar for a front-row view of the action, or take your crew to the colourful terrace to keep the party going.

    Image: Tom Blachford.

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  • 4

    Oh la la – Bisou Bisou has brought some swanky French brasserie vibes to Fortitude Valley. Or at least a thoroughly contemporary take on a brasserie, with the expansive venue awash with neutral tones, marble tables contrasting exposed brick walls, patterned and textured finishes, as well as accents of deep greens and reds.

    Located in Brisbane’s art-focused boutique Hotel X, this all-day venue might be best known for its impressive takes on classic French plates, but the bar is just as worthy of consideration. Pull up a plush red leather stool at a communal high table and select from the impressive drinks list, which features a creatively curated selection of house cocktails as well as cognac tasting flights. Oenophiles are well looked after here, too, thanks to Bisou Bisou’s excellent wine program — the collection itself takes pride of place along one of the walls.

    Settle in for the night and find your new favourites, and pair your pour with a pick from the oyster and caviar bar or the roaming cheese trolley.

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  • 3

    Who knew that the three key ingredients to a good night out were hip hop, cheese and wine? Lewis Jaffrey and Jared Merlino, the two masterminds behind Big Poppa’s, definitely did. 

    The two-tiered space on Sydney’s Oxford Street features a compact restaurant upstairs with a small bar, bare brick walls, candle lights and an attractive leather banquette. It’s definitely date territory, without being stuffy. Downstairs is a bigger, darker cocktail bar area, which also serves cheese and snacks. It’s also open until 3am, making it a perfect spot for pres or afters.

    The wine list is pretty sexy, and strikes a good balance between old and new world labels. There’s plenty to like in the bottle section under $100, or you can just sip Champagne when you’re thirsty. Meanwhile, the cocktails — with names like Fernetty Wap and Rob Rob Royce Da 5’9″ — are clever takes on classics.

    The tunes, which are loud enough to do that weird shoulder-shaking chair dance thing, seriously make this venue — and even if hip hop ain’t your thing, the atmosphere might convert you. It seems cheese, wine and hip hop is the perfect combo. And if you don’t know, now you know.

    Image: Bodhi Liggett.

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  • 2

    One part glam, one part retro and one part mixologist’s fantasy, The Roosevelt is an irresistible mix that is, undeniably, one of Sydney’s best cocktail destinations.

    The team from Eau de Vie have created a cocktail bar in a lane off Potts Point’s buzzy Macleay Street that is at once classic and an homage to cocktail culture from the 30s and 40s, and at the same time thoroughly modern with a cocktail menu as cutting-edge as they come.

    Glass cabinets filled with antique cocktail-making equipment line the room, swing is the soundtrack and the cocktail menu includes an appropriately healthy dose of theatre, with nitrogen smoke and ingredients being torched by waist-coated hosts in the centre of the room.

    Don’t look past the extensive whisky list, either — at nearly 20 pages long and with drams dating as far back as the 1960s, it’s all too easy to get lost in the list that spans old and new-world labels, including a solid lineup of local varieties. This is one glam retro cocktail experience that is equally as tempting to kick off the night as it is for a cheeky night cap.

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  • 1

    As the accompanying bar to Vue de Monde, it might be all too easy to think of Lui Bar as an afterthought, a mere staging area for the dining room it’s connected to. But instead, Lui Bar makes the case for restaurant bars as destinations in their own right.

    The bar is perched 55 floors above the city in the Rialto — Lui Bar is named, in fact, after Luigi Grollo, whose construction company built the Collins Street tower in the 1980s. It’s home to an impressive drinks offering, with cocktails that champion Australian flavours (much like its fine diner sibling). The drinks do more than just feature local ingredients, though: the list is a celebration of Melbourne’s cocktail history, with tipples that take inspiration from the city’s first cocktail boom during the Gold Rush, right through to today.

    The venue also takes the concept of drinking snacks to new heights thanks to its Vue de Monde-designed menu, which showcases clever technique as it reimagines classic local bites — think seafood rolls, handmade beef sausage rolls with a spicy ketchup and a chocolate lamington filled with raspberry gel. Add to the mix a standout wine list, incredible views from 236 metres above the city and live jazz on Sundays, and an evening at Lui Bar is no mere afterthought.

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Level up this summer with Hennessy. Hennessy V.S brings elegance and complexity to any mix while showcasing its versatile appeal. Whether it’s an Espresso Martini, an Old Fashioned or the game-changing mix Hennessy x Ginger, Hennessy allows you to step it up this summer.

Top image: Lui Bar

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