A preference when it comes to choosing the finest places for a tipple is deeply personal, so we decided we’re not just going to pick one Bowral pub or bar. Here is our list of the top six pubs in and around Bowral for your drinking pleasure.
Ask a local to point you to the best Bowral pubs and their responses are also likely to differ. Whether you’re born-and-bred Bowral (or Baaahral darl, as the posh folk in these parts like to say), a Bowral blow-in, or planning a holiday in Bowral, here are the pubs and bars that are all things to all people in and around Bowral in the Southern Highlands.
1. Briars Inn
Best for: Families or groups of friends
While there are certainly a few new spots to put on your radar, there’s also something comforting about familiar family-friendly hotels such as Briars Inn, a landmark Georgian-style building that recently underwent a facelift. This charming old country inn, established in 1845, is now a posh pub open for business serving lunch and dinner seven days a week. While it’s considered one of the most charming pubs in the Southern Highlands, it’s also one of the best in the region for families and groups of friends.
Briars Inn is a charming old country inn. (Image: VUE Studio)
The bistro, located in beautiful Burradoo just minutes from Bowral, offers staples such as slow-braised lamb shoulder, twice-cooked pork belly and spanner crab spaghetti. In addition to the on-site playground, children are catered to in the section aimed at Little Ones (think fish and chips and penne Napolitana). You can also order wood-fired pizza to go and enjoy in your suite next door at Briars Country Lodge, which has 31 accommodation suites and a wedding venue called ‘The Conservatory’.
Briars Inn has some delicious dishes on the menu. (Image: VUE Studio)
What to order: Beef cheek pie; you are in the Southern Highlands after all.
Address: 653 Moss Vale Road, Burradoo
2. Throsby Bar & Lounge
Best for: Couples who want to canoodle in a corner
Despite being part of Briars Inn, the recently restored historic Throsby Bar & Lounge deserves its own dedicated reverie. It’s stylish, contemporary, intimate and full of couples corkscrewing off into corners with cheese and wine and glass-half-full levels of optimism about the future. There are beers on tap, a well-stocked bar with local spirits and a selection of wine served by bartenders who are receptive to boosting the bass a bit to add to the good vibes.
Located in the original part of Briars Inn, Throsby Bar & Lounge is dark and moody – all charcoals, sage greens, navy tones and warm woods – and a timeless place to enjoy the region’s wines and a platter of cheese. Want a bit more privacy? Bunker down in the Bong Bong Room overlooking Bong Bong Common, which is furnished with church pews, or snag a reservation in Betsy’s Room which has a long high table and can date its beginnings back to the 1800s.
Throsby Bar & Lounge is stylish, contemporary, intimate. (Image: VUE Studio)
What to order: Find a place by the fire to enjoy the semi-hard Pines Pearl produced in nearby Kiama and a glass of Cherry Hill Tree chardonnay, both produced locally.
Address: 653 Moss Vale Road, Burradoo
3. Aspinall’s Whisky Bar & Lounge
Best for: A wee dram with your richly Bowral benefactor
You can truly choose your own adventure when enjoying a weekend escape at the Berida Hotel. A gentle dawdle from Bistro Sociale will see you enveloped in rich velvet armchairs at Aspinall’s Whisky Lounge. You’ll feel smug about finding such a perfect little place if you nab a seat by the bay window overlooking a cascade of flowers and foliage. Aspinall’s has a great reputation for being cosy, and clubby, with some great whiskies on offer for everyone from hardened connoisseurs to devotees of single malt.
Relax in the rich velvet armchairs at Aspinall’s Whisky Lounge.
The Berida Hotel is one of Bowral’s most storied hotels and Aspinall’s reflects its 1920s heritage. The Bowral bar is also a nod to Dr Jessie Aspinall, the first female appointed junior resident officer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1906. The lounge was built by the good doctor and husband Ambrose Freeman in 1925. ‘Slàinte Mhaith’ is the traditional Scottish and Irish toast that means ‘good health’ and it’s the title of the drinks menu, with recommendations from the bar.
Aspinall’s reflects its 1920s heritage.
What to order: The Belgrove Rye Whisky aged in an ex-Tasmanian pinot cask.
Address: 6 David Street, Bowral
4. Imperial Hotel
Best for: Treating the family to a pub feed or watching the footy with mates
The Imperial Hotel is one of the classic old Bowral pubs worth seeking out if you’re after an inexpensive night out with the family. You can choose from proper pub classics, like fish and chips and burgers to enjoy in the bistro, a laid-back environment that won’t break the bank. The unpretentious Bowral pub is a little less formal than some of the other pubs en route from Sydney, so there’ll be no judgment if Little Johnny has a meltdown while waiting for his spaghetti and meatballs.
Do a few laps of the nearby Corbett Gardens – one of the best things to do in Bowral – before carb-loading on wood-fired pizzas out the back of the bistro. Those looking to cheer on their favourite sporting team will be well served in the space near the big bar, which has a pool table and serve-and-pay-yourself set-up that means you can avoid getting into an expensive shout with your tight-arse mate.
What to order: The pizza capriccio topped with mushrooms, olives, artichokes, smoked ham, mozzarella and basil.
Address: Bong Bong & Bundaroo Streets, Bowral
5. The Bowral Golf Club
Best for: A lazy nine holes followed by lunch
This classic old Bowral club bistro has been feeding and watering folk from around these parts for more than a century. It’s also considered one of the best courses in the country for its challenging fairways and crayon-green grass. It offers the kind of reliable fare you need after you’ve chased the little white ball around for the best part of the day.
The old-school sandwich bar at the Bowral Golf Club serves slabs of bread stuffed with popular fillings such as poached chicken with mayo, rare roast beef with horseradish cream. You’ll also find baby boomers who have cashed in the kids’ inheritance eating their way through the bistro staples such as beer-battered prawns, bacon and egg rolls and prawn gyozas and enjoying a few generous pours of the house wine.
Address: Kangaloon Rd & David St, Bowral
6. Royal Hotel Bowral
Best for: Special occasions with the extended family
The Royal Hotel has been a meeting point in the local community since it replaced one of the original Bowral pubs, the 1862 Wingecarribee Inn, in 1890. This classic old dame, located on a pointy corner block in the main strip of Bowral, is where families congregate for fuss-free dining.
It serves a host of beers on tap, and is the kind of atmospheric public house where hospitality is friendly and old-fashioned, with smiles and handshakes delivered along with the food. The food is comfortingly traditional with beef, merlot and cracked pepper sausages, and mac and cheese croquettes, and premium scotch fillets from the grill.
What to order: A Young Henry’s schooner with some beer-battered sea perch and some pork belly bites.
Address: 255 Bong Bong St, Bowral