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Ten Summery Courtyards for When You Want to Kick Off Cocktail Hour Before Dark

While away an afternoon with mates, snacks and great drinks.
By Bec Zhuang
November 18, 2020
By Bec Zhuang
November 18, 2020


in partnership with

While away an afternoon with mates, snacks and great drinks.

Nothing says Aussie summer like an afternoon courtyard bevvy, whether you're at your local for a schooner and a pub feed, or kicking on after a brunch date and making the most of the good weather. What makes a summer arvo session even better is that the days are longer, the nights are warmer, and you can choose from lots of different drinks to keep your palate interested. To give you some inspiration for your next catch-up, we've teamed up with Maker's Mark to pin down the best courtyards in Sydney where you can enjoy an old-fashioned, a whisky sour, or whatever refreshment takes your fancy.

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    On Erskineville’s main drag, The Erko is a harmonious escape from the madness of weekend shopping and nearby Newtown’s weekend pub crawlers. Pull up a chair in the leafy courtyard, choose from an impressive lineup of beers, wines and cocktails and settle in knowing that there’s an extensive share menu to take you and your mates through the night. Its barbecue menu has share plates like crispy tempeh or grilled prawn tacos, whilst hungrier groups will be well placed with poutine (chips loaded with gravy and house-made cheese curds) or buffalo wings. To wash it all down, order one of The Erko’s bottled cocktails or a classic old-fashioned made with Maker’s Mark bourbon.

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    The Bank Hotel Beer Garden

    The best thing about a pub courtyard is actually being able to sit down in it. Luckily at The Bank, there are seats aplenty and the beer garden is spread across two levels with large share tables to more intimate three-seaters. You’ll be well sorted with an old-fashioned or whiskey sour from The Bank’s cocktail menu, and there’s plenty of food to choose from, whether you’re in time for lunch or dinner. Here on a Sunday? Pay $25 and you can dine by the slice with its All You Can Eat Pizza menu. Make sure you book a table in advance for that one, as it’s a popular weekly special.

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    The Courthouse Hotel

    If you love puppies like you love outdoor drinks, then you’ll love the Courthouse Hotel. More affectionately known as ‘The Courty’, this Newtown local sports a classic pub menu and, most importantly, is home to an enormous beer garden that wraps around the pub’s exterior. Head inside and you’ll find a dedicated pinball machine room as well as back-to-back AFL games showing on the telly.

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    This classy but casual Italian eatery is a Bondi institution, famous for its woodfired bread and mouth-watering selection of antipasto plates. The courtyard is half-covered, half-exposed, with olive trees shading punters from the summer sun, which makes for the perfect place to share simple yet delicious food with a spritz or whisky sour in hand. Whether you’re Totti’s-bound after a day at Bondi Beach, or you’re looking for somewhere to take the family for an Italian feast, be sure to book in advance (especially with larger groups) as this eastern suburbs favourite fills up fast.

    Image: Nikki To

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    The Unicorn

    The Unicorn dishes up top-notch pub food from an all-star lineup of Sydney hospitality royalty. Owned by the crew behind Mary’s, this Oxford Street favourite is popular with everyone from grungy music lovers to suited guys and gals looking for a bite to eat on the way to the races. If you’re looking for a standard pub meal, take a seat in the outdoor beer garden and tuck into one of its bar food favourites — such as the Mary’s Burger, chicken parma or steak sandwich. When you’re treating yourself, ask the bartenders to whip up a whisky cocktail to see you through the afternoon.

    Image: Bodhi Liggett

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    Acre Eatery

    This farm-to-table Italian eatery has a huge focus on fresh, sustainable produce and is well suited to big groups of friends and family. Head outside to its garden area for an al fresco meal surrounded by wooden play equipment for the kids and a working urban farm. The menu at Acre is designed to share, so make sure you order a bit of everything from its antipasti and house-made pasta selection. Fancy a drink? You’ll be well looked after with its small-but-timeless cocktail menu and selection of local and Italian wines.

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    Small Bar

    Perfect for an afternoon cocktail or a casual dinner with friends, Crows Nest’s Small Bar is the North Shore’s instalment of the CBD’s long-running bar of the same name. The space, contrary to its name, is actually quite large, with indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of space for intimate date nights as well as large groups. Head to the greenery-filled outdoor area to start your night off with a round of house-made cocktails, or split a bottle of red, white or rosé from its small but impressive wine menu. For snacks, take your pick from loaded fries, arancini and calamari to start.

    Image: Trent van der Jagt

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    The Winery, as the name suggests, has a grand selection of wines on its menu, but that’s not all it’s known for. Conveniently located on Crown Street, this Surry Hills eatery is open for lunch and dinner, as well as all the drinks and snacks you desire in-between. Gather the gang for a boozy long lunch from the Bottomless Brunch menu ($79 per person) or order a-la-carte for your choice of share plates and mains. If you happen to find yourself extending your stay into the night, you can treat yourself to the bar’s special dessert menu or a cheeseboard from its supper menu. It serves Maker’s Mark, so pair your dessert with an old-fashioned for a slow and sensory end to your night.

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    Albion Hotel

    After a classic pub feed? Look no further than Parramatta’s Albion Hotel. This dog-friendly pub dishes out all your favourites — we’re talking chicken schnitzel, rump steak and classic cheeseburgers, as well as an after-hours snacks menu, which features the ‘Ol Faithful Toastie (ham, cheese, tomato and rocket and basil mayo for $14). Cocktail lovers will be pleased by the Albion’s extensive drinks menu. Its bartenders can also make up any classic cocktail of your choosing, from a manhattan to a refreshing Maker’s Mark and ginger.

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    Located in the heart of Petersham, Public House is a classic hotel-style pub that has Sunday drinks written all over it. Home to a killer beer garden, Public House is the kind of place you plan to go for a few and find yourself here for the long haul. It has an impressive food menu with share plates and mains. Heading here with a group? Order a round of woodfired pizzas, from $20 each, like the zucchini, pea and mint pizza or the cacio e pepe patata, with pecorino, black pepper and potato. Wash it down with one of the jarred cocktails, or classic cocktails, from the pub’s menu.


Find out more about Maker’s Mark and how to make an old-fashioned, here

Top image: Public House Petersham

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