If you’ve run out of new or secret bars to call your own, never fear. David Stanton, founder of Bartender Magazine, offers these as his five favourite drinking haunts you mightn’t have heard of. Yet.
Recently crowned Australia’s best cocktail bar at our annual Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards, this little hidden gem is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates well-constructed cocktails made with the best possible ingredients. Their downstairs bar (Sweatshop) is a more relaxed affair where you can find the bartenders mixing up their favourite tunes on the turntable while enjoying the best daiquiri you’ve ever had.
Details // 113 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, (03) 9663 6363, www.seamstress.com.au
The Lark Brisbane
A beacon for quality drinks and service in a city that’s still dominated by big pubs catering to binge drinking and bogans. What I love about this place is that the owner – Perry Scott – still works the bar. This is something that can really take an establishment to a new level; it’s built and run by someone who understands and appreciates how to make good drinks. Of course they still need to know how to balance the books and deal with back-of-house shenanigans – but in my opinion, this is Brisbane’s best cocktail bar. Try their modern tapas-inspired bar food too – delicious!
Details // 1/267 Given Terrace, Paddington, Brisbane, (07) 3369 1299, www.thelark.com.au
Der Raum Melbourne
There’s only one thing you come to Der Raum for and that’s to sit at the bar and be amazed by some of Australia’s most creative bartenders serving up their world-renowned experimental cocktails. The quality of their produce and ingredients are second to none – using premium spirits only and hand-pressed seasonal fruit for mixers – and their passion for pushing the boundaries of mixology is inspiring. If trying something different appeals to you, then you have to drop into Der Raum. Try their take on the Negroni – it’s my favourite.
Details // 438 Church St, Richmond, Melbourne, (03) 9428 0055, www.derraum.com.au
Once you hunt down this little diamond you’ll need to press a door buzzer and hope they’re not too busy to let you in.
Sticky Bar Sydney
You’re only going to find this place if you have a friend who’s in the know, which is a refreshing change in a city used to big venues, big signs and easy locations. Once you hunt down this little diamond you’ll need to press a door buzzer and hope they’re not too busy to let you in. But if you do make it inside, it’s a real treat – like a comfortable living room with great old furniture and a piano in the corner. In the heart of the city’s new nightlife hub of Surry Hills, and upstairs from the wonderfully original Tablefor20 restaurant, Sticky is without question a welcome addition to the Sydney bar scene.
Details // 182 Campbell St, Surry Hills, Sydney, 0416 096 916.
Blue Diamond Melbourne
This place has been around for a while but it wasn’t until they brought on one of Melbourne’s leading bar managers – Tim Wastell – that the venue really came into its own. One of Melbourne’s few high- rise bars, you get the feeling you’re in a piano bar in New York looking down on the busy city below. They have an extensive drinks list and a great selection of quality hand-rolled Cuban cigars and drew estate cigars – a perfect way to kick back and enjoy the breathtaking views. Being a cigar lover myself, this place is always high on my list.
Details // 15/123 Queen St, Melbourne, (03) 8601 2720, www.bluediamondclub.com.au