Looking for a night out with a dash of mystery? Why not wander down cobblestone streets to hideaway bars and discover a lesser-known side of Sydney’s night-life? Enter a speak-easy and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into the 1920s, as you sip martinis to honky tonk jazz and rub shoulders with suspender-wearing bartenders. Where should you go? That’s a secret, but here are some clues.
The Swinging Cat
Follow the sounds of clinking ice and New Orleans jazz to The Swinging Cat, a hidey-hole bar tucked underneath a Subway sandwich store. Once inside the speak-easy, you can pull up a stool at the gaslight-lit bar or take a seat by the grand piano. You’ll think you’ve been transported to the French Quarter as you sip on Louisiana’s official cocktail––the Sazerac, a heavy cognac-based drink laced with absinthe—and listen to old-school calypso. Some nights you might be surprised by a live six-piece jazz band, others by a traditional Mardis Gras krewe, complete with costumes, dancing, and just the right amount of wildness.
Mojo Record Bar
Don’t let the record shop front throw you off. Walk in, breeze past the rows of vinyls and cash register, and head downstairs. Here you’ll find Mojo Record Bar, a back-room bar reminiscent of a 1960s rumpus room, complete with burgundy red walls, Persian rugs, and wall-to-wall vintage posters. At this speak-easy, you move between the racks of records and slink into a leather booth, throwing a conspiratorial smile to the bartender, and decide what to drink. Maybe the Stone Wall, a smoky mix of Laphroaig, lemon juice, and whisky marmalade, will fit the bill. Or try the playfully named ‘I Lost My Rum in San Francisco’ and enjoy a rich dark rum concoction, spiced with Angostura bitters.
The Lobo Plantation
Ramble through cobblestone lanes to the heart of Sydney’s business district. It may look like all big buildings but keep an eye out for a set of heavy wooden doors. Behind them, you’ll see a curvy antique staircase, surrounded by plants. Wind your way down till you get to The Lobo Plantation, a speak-easy rich with laid-back Caribbean charm. Inspired by the decadence of Cuban sugar baron Julio Lobo, this hidden bar takes you back to another time and place. You can recline in a lazy wicker lounge and listen to by-gone hits, or huddle closer to the antique lamp and examine the elegant list of cocktails. Ask for an Old Grogram and watch the bartender, wearing a 1950s floral-print dress, set the drink on fire. Hungry? Order a shredded flank steak braised in dark beer and brown sugar, and savour the creamy combo.