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Could you afford a drink in Sydney's top bars?

Friday 10th February 2012

At £16 per cocktail, will your backpacker budget stretch to a night out in Sydney's top rated drinking dens?

An article today in the Sydney Morning Herald lists Sydney's top ten best bars, but how much will a night out in Australia's hippest city cost you if you want to try out these bars? The number one is Eau De Vie, in the Kirketon boutique hotel in Darlington. Voted "New Bar of the Year 2011" by Time Out, this is a relaxed but elegant bar which aspires to a speakeasy jazz era atmosphere. The cocktails are rated as 10/10, but most hover around the $20AUD (about £13 in British money). Practiced boozers on a budget will search the cocktail menu keenly for a drink that is long and strong, then make it last!

Anyone under the impression that Australia is a land of lager and BBQ's will have their illusions shattered by the range of sophisticated drinking destinations on the list. In at number two is the White Hart in Neutral Bay. Now in the UK, pubs called names like the White Hart are usually trad old mens boozers, but in Sydney we get all gastro-pub, with the White Hart offering "boutique cocktails, fine wines, tapas and casual dining". Swanky! A G&T will set you back $17AUD, but the cocktail list is impressive.

Back on average UK price territory for wine by the glass (just) is third on the list Love Tilly, Devine in East Sydney. A massive wine list is priced from $10AUD per glass (about £6) although most of the wines by the glass do come in closer to $15AUD. If you are sharing a bottle expect to pay from $38AUD upwards, if you can choose from the vast selection. Definitely one for wine-lovers, and pretty upmarket too. Take someone you want to impress (do your research first and make sure you go dutch on the bill!)

So what about those poor penny pinching working holiday makers and travellers who are slaving away on minimum wage in Sydney? Where can they go to let their hair down? Well at the other extreme to the above-mentioned swank parlours, Sydney is full of pubs and bars that thoughtfully sell bargain booze for thirsty backpackers. We all know we should drink responsibly, and sipping a $24 cocktail looking smooth and impressing a date is far preferable to falling out of a pub in the early hours and snogging someone regrettable outside the kebab shop, but lets face it, the latter probably will happen.

Sydney's well known happy hour haunts for travellers include Durty Nelly's in Paddington, the Woolpack Hotel in Parramatta and the Coogee Cafe After Dark on Coogee Bay Road, along with many others. All of these establishments have happy hours which offer bottled beers for about $4, schooners of lager for $3 or $10 cocktail jugs. Now these cocktails probably won't win any awards (no offence barstaff) but they do represent party value for money.

One thing we will always say though, is try to make an effort to visit swanky places as well as backpacker faves, even if it's just for one drink or to sit at the bar. Half the fun of travelling is checking out all sorts of experiences, not just those that are specifically marketed at you as a backpacker or working holidaymaker.