As the chill of winter settles in, it's easy to see your enthusiasm for a night on the town being replaced by a deep craving to don your long dachshund-print pajamas and settle in for a dry and drama-less night watching Netflix.
But there's one thing we know that's worth braving the cold for, and that's cosy beers at one of Sydney's fireplace-equipped pubs and bars. It's your chance to feel like Hemingway with an alcoholic beverage in one hand as you relax in a room filled with that incredible open fire. Here are fifteen of the best.
Boasting the warmth and history of an old English pub, all dark woods and shadowy corners, The Lord Dudley is a perfect place to hide away this winter. A mock Tudor building complete with a creeping vine-covered exterior, it has a rabbit warren of adjoining rooms awaiting you inside. The maroon-carpeted floors sink in all the right places due to the storied halls being ploughed by a steady stream of drinkers who come seeking solace and warmth. You'll find the roaring fireplace in the lamp-lit, timber-panelled rear lounge, which is furnished with booth-style tables and doubles as the games corner. You can gather a mob of mates around and while away a winter night with a competitive game of Scrabble or the ever heart-quickening Connect Four.
A reliable local, the Crix has all the comfort and familiarity you need for a cosy winter's night. It's a beautiful old pub, boasting wooden floors and wall tiles, a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of character behind the bar. In winter, a fireplace is always lit and surrounded by cosy lounges. There's also a pool table that's free on Thursdays, so be ready for the fight. With $10 steaks on Mondays, live jazz with $5 house wine and $7.50 mulled wine on Wednesdays and $15 Sunday roasts, it's the perfect place to make your warm home base all through the wintertime.
Bar No. 5 doesn't just talk the talk about being a local joint. The repurposed warehouse Alexandria bar is focused not only on seasonality and sourcing local ingredients, but is also enacting a closed-loop policy for the venue — think foraging, bee keeping, solar panels and a composting worm farm to boot. It's a made-by-locals-for-local venue, owned by Alexandria folk in an area keen for repurposed hospitality spaces. If all this doesn't make them neighbourhood champions, the bar also has an alcove dog area with leash hooks and a gas fire to cosy up by during winter. The best day to drop by is Sundays, when they're offering up $1.50 oysters and arancini, $1 wing, $5 mulled wine and live music from 3pm-5pm.
Located on the corner of Goulburn Street and Wentworth Avenue, the century-old Macquarie Hotel building has been so beautifully restored that upon entering you immediately forget you're mere minutes from the CBD. With the wicker chairs, hand-painted Cuban detailing and sweet tunes, it's the perfect place to sit by the fire and escape from the city grind. The space is also home to a custom-designed indirect wood smoked barbacoa for slow cooking meat the traditional South American way. All the meats are sustainable and locally sourced, and are cooked for hours over aromatic woods, adding to the warmth of the joint.
One of the most beloved craft beer pubs in the city, this breezy, often boisterous Surry Hills establishment has a cosy side during winter. The modern space has well-presented pub grub, but it's in their expertly curated beer offerings where the Dove & Olive really shines. Grab a beer paddle and select from a range of unusual tipples on tap, with Thrifty Thursday offering $5 schooners and $12 jugs all day. If you're here for a nosh, the D&O schnitty is a fan-favourite, but their menu is full of hearty dishes that will keep the winter chill at bay.
Enter, and you're greeted by an industrial chic interior complete with exposed brick and concrete pillars. The mood lighting and dark wood add to the wintery appeal of the place, and the fireplace seals the deal. Well suited to the after work crowd, it's a place to warm up next to open flame with drink in hand. For post-work noshing, it's the oysters that you're here for — especially during August, when the annual Morrison Oyster Festival is on and you can suck down $1 oysters during happy hour.
Darlinghurst's new bar is a paean to Johnny Fontane: crooner, film star and godson of Vito Corleone (better known as The Godfather). It's also Sydney's first home of the Chicagoan deep-dish pizza, which is the perfect winter comfort food — made even more perfect when eaten next to the fire. There are four distinct spaces, including The Rat Pack-inspired main bar and the upstairs gangster lounge with dark, sleek furniture, mug shots of Mafia leaders and a deck dedicated to cigar-smoking. With your pizza, grab one of the signature cocktails, all based around Italian spirits, like the Nonna's Lemon Pie (Absolut Citron Vodka, crème de cacao white, vanilla and lemon syrups, shaken egg white), or The Flamingo (amaretto, white chocolate liqueur, strawberry puree and crème freche, topped with grated Milky Bar).
The new Dolphin Hotel has made a splash in the Sydney food scene for its ultra-chic interiors, high-flying Italian cuisine and charming salumeria and wine bar. As you can probably tell already, this ain't no ordinary boozer. Aside from the dining room, The Dolphin boasts a number of different drinking and dining spaces, including a public bar, wine room, mezzanine and, our favourite winter spot, the open air terrace with fireplace. Cosy up with drink in hand and enjoy the rare winter sensation of feeling warm while sitting outside. The producer-focused wine list boasts more than 35 wines by the glass and over 150 by the bottle, so you'll have plenty excuses to get stuck in.
The easily missed and almost unmarked Gothic doors on Falcon Street hide a darkened entryway to one of the city's most exciting hidden playgrounds. Forsake the lovely indoor courtyard for the season and head to the carpeted living room 'round the fire for a chance to feel the comforts of home with the addition of a luxurious drinks menu. Alongside a solid craft beer selection on tap, there is an impressively curated cocktail list, including a dedicated winter warmers list. Try The Don ($24), which is house-spiced rum, Fireball, Cointreau and Angostura bitters, or the Choco-late Registration, a concoction of Sailor Jerry's, Grand Marnier, house-made rhubarb syrup and dark chocolate with orange bitters.
Sometimes the perfect winter bar is in the last place you'd think to look — the beach. Nothing beats coming in from the biting winds of the coast to a shack warmed by a roaring fire, though it's too rowdy to ever be called 'cosy'. In winter they serve a warming menu with the likes of fish pot pie (made with what's fresh that day) and lamb shank surrounded by glazed winter veggies and mash. You'll just need to add a glass of red to complete the hearty dishes.
Shop 1, Bondi Pavilion, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach
The opulent fireplace at The Oaks Hotel is one of the finer you'll find at a pub in the city. Founded in 1885, The Oaks enter a new phase last year when the upstairs was redesign by Sibella Court. The pub's upper levels have been Courted into a bright, gaudy 1930s den of art deco meets art nouveau sophistication — with a serious amount of drapery. We're always down for drinking cocktails in venues that look like either the set of a Wes Anderson or Baz Luhrmann film, especially when there's a fireplace involved.
As Sydney's oldest pub (if we disqualify The Fortune of War for being demolished and rebuilt), this Australian monument is a great place to stare into the flames with a beer in hand and contemplate a long history of Australians taking shelter from the cold. With exceptional views straight across the harbour to watch for oncoming storms, naval prints on the walls and a warm atmosphere, it's the perfect old English-style pub in which to find sanctuary. The beer selection is particularly special, with seven beers brewed on site. We suggest pairing a Victory Bitter (a classic English ale with a touch of caramel) and a pork pie or Ploughman's Lunch for the perfect winter pig out.
With a theatre out back and roaring fire upfront, The Old Fitz has prided itself as a meeting place for artists, writers and musicians for over a century. After a night of supporting independent theatre by taking in a show and chatting with the locals, don't be shy about asking the bar staff for their marshmallow stash — they often have some in winter for you to roast over the fire (it's a bit of a local secret). The crowd is ebullient and warm, and industrial-levels of noise are rarely reached, meaning you can actually have a conversation with mates over a couple of brews.
Tucked back away from the rush of Oxford Street and behind a fern-filled sandstone courtyard, the Commons is a warm sanctuary of fireside whiskey, fine foods and maybe a little jazz. The heritage building has been kept intact, with sandstone and exposed brick walls a feature. The long, communal wooden tables surrounding the fire in the main room give you the feel of dining in an old farmhouse, which is exactly what the building was 160 years ago. Downstairs will reveal a cosy little bar with magazines, books and, if you're lucky, a jazz trio plucking out the tunes, and the well-balanced whiskey and cocktail menu will keep a fire in your belly.
The Treehouse, an after-work retreat in North Sydney with an Alice in Wonderland vibe, isn't going to give you the typical old English fireside experience. Filled with gargoyles, vine-covered wrought iron and mirrors on every wall, the general whimsy of the bar is contrasted against some clean modern touches — the sleek, glass-encased fire being one of them. No wood logs here; this fireplace is treated as an artistic feature piece raised above the dining area, encouraging you to take a seat at one of the sleek black booths beneath and spend your night watching flames licking through a chrome hearth. While the menu isn't cheap (mains above $30), it's worth the price to sit after work with a glass of wine in hand.