Undoubtably the best combination for an evening cocktail in Sydney is the temperate climate and the breathtaking harbour views. To make things easier, there are dozens or even hundreds of great places to grab a drink that also have outdoor seating with panoramic views included, no charge.
The Opera Bar is one of the more obvious choices, located as closely as it is to the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Since opera goers do dine here before a performance, it has the atmosphere and prices that you’d expect from such an establishment. The wine list is somewhat limited, but the cocktail list is extensive and varied – and there are few better vantage points to enjoy the world-famous architectural Opera House curves.
Just down the Quay is the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, a Sydney institution housed in quaint sheds along the waterfront. Although many of the dishes feature fresh seafood, the stars of the menu are (of course!) the oysters. Come for happy hour, when they have champagne-and-oyster deals, and you’ll get to enjoy fresh raw oysters on the half shell while the sunset casts a lovely glow over the Opera House nearby. Sounds corny? Maybe, but it’s still a perfect way to end a day – and begin an evening out.
Across the cove is Wildfire Bar and Restaurant, an upscale steak-and-seafood joint with excellent views of the Opera House from its outdoor patio. The food is good, although pricey, and it can get quite busy on weekends. Come before or after the dinner rush or during the week to take advantage of the patio’s ambience, long wine list, and high-class bar selection and service without the madness of a busy restaurant night.
If the weather isn’t ideal or you don’t feel like sitting outside for whatever reason, the Harbour Kitchen and Bar is a good choice. Also located across the bar from Sydney Cove, there are splendid panoramic views of the Bridge and Opera House through the floor-to-ceiling windows that cover several sides of the restaurant space. As another upscale steak-and-seafood restaurant, the food prices can also be pretty high here. Ambience, service, and of course view make the price worth your while, though, or just come for drinks for a cheaper visit. As with Wildfire, before or after dinner rush and during the week tends to be less hectic times for patrons and staff alike. The wine list is good for sampling some Australian wineries, too.
[photo courtesy of Corey Leopold]