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Seven Laidback Sydney Bars for Your Next Group Catch-Up (Where You Can Actually Hear Your Mates Talk)

Nab yourself a couch or booth at one of these cosy spots and settle in for some quality time with your crew.
By Nik Addams
November 16, 2022
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By Nik Addams
November 16, 2022
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in partnership with

Let's face it, sometimes we just don't have the energy for crowded clubs where we're practically yelling at our mates over deafening music (which essentially just becomes noise after a while) just to make ourselves heard.

If you still fancy that lifestyle, kudos to you. However, for those looking for nights out in more cosy, laidback surrounds (with quality drinks, of course), we've partnered with American Honey to gather a list of bars in Sydney that will offer just that.

From intimate, nook-filled venues to lively establishments, the bars below are perfect the next time you want to sit back, relax and soak up quality time with quality people.cp-line

THE CORNER HOUSE, BONDI

Every suburb needs a go-to neighbourhood bar, and The Corner House is Bondi's. The two-tiered spot has everything you'd want in a good local: plenty of natural light, cosy vibes, a sprawling balcony and nooks galore to hole yourself up in for an afternoon or evening. There are also stellar happy-hour deals from Tuesdays to Saturdays and regular live intimate gigs, while a Mediterranean-inspired sharing menu adds to the unmistakably social atmosphere. Settle in with a smooth American Honey, fresh soda and lime, for the ultimate bevvie by the beach.

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Jasons Loucas

THE BAR, DOUBLE BAY

There's something about luxe hotel bars that inspires conversation — and InterContinental Double Bay's The Bar takes luxe to a whole new level. Inspired by the best hotel bars in New York, London and Rome, the venue is the vision of hospitality legend Maurice Terzini, who also co-curated the menu alongside Icebergs head chef Alex Prichard.

As is to be expected, the menu goes beyond the usual bar fare with native produce-driven dishes like the wagyu tartare, chimichurri lamb cutlet and chocolate and hazelnut millefeuille. Meanwhile, the cocktails — devised by beverage creative director Ana Page — spotlight French and Italian vermouths, as well as herb- and citrus-based liqueurs. Perfect, in other words, for a leisurely nightcap.

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APOLLONIA, CBD

Situated in the basement of Hinchcliff House, sleek cocktail cavern Apollonia takes inspiration from Sicily's famed Bar Vitelli, perhaps best known for its supporting role in The Godfather. That's not the only reference to the classic film at this underground bar — the name Apollonia comes from Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone, the first wife of Michael Corleone himself, while the sophisticated cocktail list features tipples named after plot points in the film, with particular reference to Apollonia and Michael's love story (no spoilers).

The drinks lean heavily Italian, though negronis are a stand-out here — there's a rotating selection created by some of the world's most celebrated bartenders.

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BITTER PHEW, DARLINGHURST

Oxford Street in Darlinghurst might not be the most obvious location in town for a moody and intimate bar, but Bitter Phew puts paid to that particular notion. The snug upstairs spot definitely punches above its weight relative to its size, having made a name for itself among beer-lovers Australia-wide for its excellently curated 12-tap rotation and hundreds of bottled local and international craft brews. There's also a sizeable whisky selection if you're after a spirit for sipping.

Come for the beer but stay for the low-key vibe — there's a smart, small-bar feel in the front and a quaint 'keg garden' in the back, the perfect place to nurse a cold one as you enjoy quality time with your crew.

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OLD MATE'S PLACE, CBD

This World's 50 Best Bars-recognised CBD spot might be tough to find, but it's well worth the effort. Locate the nondescript door on Clarence Street and venture up four floors to find this homey spot that recalls an old library — think stately bookshelves, dapper furnishings and family heirlooms throughout with cleverly placed accents of foliage. Grab a leather booth for you and your crew as you settle in for an evening of excellent conversation, intriguing cocktails and primo bar food from a menu that includes six variations on the Philly cheesesteak, including meat-free options.

Knocking off work early? Head up another flight of stairs to secure a spot on the leafy rooftop bar for an al fresco sundowner and sweeping views of the CBD.

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MOYA'S JUNIPER LOUNGE, REDFERN

If you're an avid gin drinker, Moya's Juniper Lounge is where you need to be. The quaint, old-world cocktail bar is hidden in plain sight on Redfern's Regent Street, but don't let its lack of ostentatiousness put you off. This place serves up excellently made gin-fuelled classics, including a range of lesser-known ones, from its bar that houses over 200 different gins from around the globe.

Beyond the gin, you can also select from a well-considered range of whiskies, rums, tequilas, mezcals, brandies and wine. To elevate your experience, order from the charcuterie and cheese menu which comes with house-cured pickles and locally baked bread. Additionally, the lounge hosts weekly free jazz nights and offers $10 negronis every Sunday from 4pm.

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THE SAVOY BAR, LONG JETTY

The Savoy Bar has been a fixture in the vibey Central Coast 'hood of Long Jetty for decades — though it started life very differently when it first opened in 1956, when it was home to the Coast's biggest movie theatre. These days, The Savoy Bar is a lively bar and restaurant, and a firm favourite among locals and visitors alike.

Head in for cocktails on tap (or an impossibly smooth American Honey, fresh lime and soda highballs), craft beers and a diverse wine list that focuses on natural drops, which you can complement with a Napoli-style pizza or cheeseboard. In honour of the venue's past, classic films are shown every Thursday on the big screen, while vibes remain high on weekends thanks to a lineup of DJs playing funk, soul and old-school jams.

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For more ways to celebrate golden moments with mates, head to the American Honey website.

Published on November 16, 2022 by Nik Addams
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