Had enough of being locked out of your favourite nightspot come 1:30am? Yeah, we thought so. While the fun police are out in force, it doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy a responsible drink at our favourite haunts. We caught up with some venues around town to tell us why they’re the best places to start early, go all night or finish up late – and make the most of your night out, lockouts or not.
1. Across The Harbour: Balmain Hotel
What’s the vibe: Our deceptively large venue offers an area to suit any occasion. Enter through the public bar, home of Balmain Rugby, where there’s a large projection screen making it the perfect place to cheer on your favourite team. Walk through the doors out to the courtyard and be transported to a Polynesian paradise. Best beer garden in Balmain – hands down. Get a fun holiday feel sipping delicious cocktails under the thatched tiki huts. Settle in next to the fire in the Bora Bora Bar during the week and enjoy one of our many weekday meal deals. Have a groove on Friday and Saturday nights to our resident DJs.
For our ears: An awesome Friday and Saturday night atmosphere with resident DJ Kate Monroe (Sydney’s first lady of house) on Saturday night and DJ Husky from Random Soul on Fridays (coming soon).
For our tummies: Sensational food serving pub classics with a modern twist. Our new menu features healthier choices to satisfy the most figure conscious diners, plus delicious burgers.Weekly dinner specials means there is no excuse to stay home: Monday – 50c wings; Wednesday – $12 schnitzel; Thursday – $1 dumplings; Friday nights – $18 burger and booze deal; and pig on a spit Sundays.
Bevvy of choice: The Balmain has all manner of options to wet your whistle! Lap up pub classics in the public bar and journey down to the Bora Bora Bar for something a little more exotic. Choose from our cocktails list or chat with our friendly staff and they can create something for you! The Balmain Booze Juice is a fresh fruit frappe of your choice with Skyy Vodka or Appleton.
Beating the fun police – what’s the highlight: Delicious food. Thumping beats. Stiff drinks.
Wallet damage: Food: small stuff $10-12; mains $16-26. Drinks: beers from $5.50; cocktails $16; wine $35. During the week, Happy Hour runs from 4-7pm: $4 schooners, house wine and spirits.
Where: 74 Mullens St, Balmain
When: During the week attracts an after work crowd; early evenings are busy. On the weekend the party starts with lunch and then continues on into the evening. The atmosphere is given a jolt when resident DJs start spinning the decks at 8pm.
2. Start Early: Papa Gede’s Bar
What’s the vibe: We’re a small bar with big vibes, all about a super friendly lounge atmosphere. People have been known to dance when certain Al Green tunes come on…
For our ears: Heaps of soul, New Orleans blues, ’60s and ’70s funk, reggae.
For our tummies: We have a great selection of cheese and charcuterie, and some cheap and salty nuts and pretzels on offer. We also encourage those in need of hot food to order in pizza, Thai or whatever they feel like.
Bevvy of choice: Cocktails! The It’s Rick James… with scotch, peach liqueur, fresh apple juice and lemon, or an absinthe if you’re feeling artistic – we do a great absinthe cocktail called Divine Intervention with apple and passionfruit. So freakin’ good. Or one of our super rare American whiskies.
Beating the fun police – what’s the highlight: The voodoo mugs, the shrunken heads, the absinthe drip, the beats, the cobblestones and the flaming lime husks. And the friendly service of course.
Wallet damage: Cocktails start at a very modest $16, absinthes from $14. Beers and wines from $8/9.
Where: Enter via laneway at 348 Kent St, Sydney
When: We open from 5pm. Weekdays we are busy quite early, Saturdays from about 8pm.
3. Finish Late: Jam Gallery
What’s the vibe: Historically Sydney has experienced many ups and downs affecting the prosperity of the live music scene, battling poker machines, POPE laws and noise complaints. However, the latest introduction of licensing restrictions has predominantly hindered punters’ ability to see acts at various live venues after 1:30am. Thankfully, Jam Gallery at 195 Oxford St, Bondi Junction lies comfortably outside of these restrictions, enabling us to play right through to 3am.
We are just wrapping up our testing phase and are excited to be moving into our new Friday and Saturday nights – underground venue with three bars, lounges, tables and a laidback atmosphere. Our new late-night lineup will begin mid-July. Our sister venue next door is Spring Street Social, a new small bar and restaurant. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 4pm to 3am, there is free live music every night.
For our ears: On Fridays, energetic live, local and domestic indie/rock/alternative bands. On Saturdays, house/electronic DJs and live electronic acts.
For our tummies: Great bar food, hot dogs, burgers, fancy fries et cetera.
Bevvy of choice: Brooklyn Lager of course, but if that doesn’t suit we have a selection of over 40 Australian and international craft beers, plus top-notch cocktails in our adjoined Spring Street Social bar.
Beating the fun police: Luckily we are comfortably outside of the lockout zone, so we will be doing our bit – thankfully the hideous lockout laws don’t affect us. Only two train stops from Kings Cross or a $15 cab, so it’s easy to get to.
Wallet damage: Normal night out prices. We’ve kept ticket prices, if any, really low. Free entry before 10pm lots of the time.
Where: Jam Gallery – 195 Oxford St, Bondi Junction. Spring Street Social – 110 Spring St, Bondi Junction.
When: Jam Gallery – doors open 7:30, bands/DJs start around 9pm. Spring Street Social – Tuesday to Saturday, 4pm-3am.
4. Go All Day: Bar Broadway
What’s the vibe: We are a small bar, great place to chill out with a fun and friendly vibe.
For our ears: We play mostly indie and alternative music. If you like listening to triple j, this is the bar for you. We have a jukebox available though so if it’s not to your taste you can always mix it up yourself and play DJ with your friends.
For our tummies: We have a range of Australian dishes, though our kitchen is primarily Chinese food, home to Mama Wang’s offspring Garden Restaurant.
Bevvy of choice: We have a wide variety of tap beers and spirits available. We always try to keep the options fresh, always trying new things. Our beer of the month at the moment is Byron Bay Pale Ale, always a good option to start the night.
Beating the fun police: The people you meet. Bar Broadway always attracts an interesting mix of people, from students to office workers to hospitality staff.
Wallet damage: Drinks are reasonably priced, with $5 Bulmers schooners the favourite deal at the moment. We also have student discounts with $4.20 house beers and $6.20 house spirits on offer.
Where: 2 Broadway, corner of Broadway and Regent Street, Chippendale
When: We open at 12noon, close at 4am Sunday to Thursday, 5am Friday and Saturday. Last drinks are always 15 minutes before closing time. Our busiest and best atmosphere times are late afternoon early evening, then again after midnight. Great place to start and finish an evening.
5. Go All Night: El Loco Later
What’s the vibe: El Loco Later is a new late-night party every Friday and Saturday at El Loco, Surry Hills. After dinner wraps up, the Excelsior is transformed into one of the best late-night spots in the neighborhood. Tables are pushed aside, and with a rotating cast of Sydney’s best party DJs, the dancefloor kicks on well into the night. The kitchen remains open right through ’til 3am, and with our award-winning tacos on offer, we’ve got the best late-night snacks going around. The staff are all in costume and getting into the festive vibe – it’s unpretentious, a great atmosphere, great value and open late!
For our ears: We’ve got some of Sydney’s finest party DJs mixing it up on rotation – Kristy Lee (triple j), Raye Antonelli, Tina Turntables, Bambii, Bernie Dingo, Liz Bird, Bobby Gray, S.Kobar, Fingertips and DJ Crazy Caz! Expect hip hop, house, ol’ skool, indie, ’90s, just block-rockin’ party beats all night long.
For our tummies: Our authentic Mexican cantina serves up fresh delicacies every night of the week, and is open right through until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. With a menu designed by Dan Hong, you’re in store for award-winning tacos, hot dogs, quesadillas, delicious fish ‘torta’ sandwiches and much more. For the adventurous we also have a ‘secret taco’ – dare you to try it! Keep an eye out for our vouchers around the neighbourhood too – you could score one of our famous tacos for free after midnight.
Bevvy of choice: Tequila, margaritas, cervezas! We specialise in tequila (with over 30 on offer) and margaritas, and also have beer bucket specials all day every day. If you haven’t been here yet, you have to try our frozen margarita with pink cuco, grapefruit and coriander.
Beating the fun police – what’s the highlight: You’ll definitely remember the oversized cactus you were posing with! Our totally kitsch Mexicool dОcor may have you wanting to Instagram all night, but don’t forget to get off your mobiles and have a dance. The food, drinks, the friendly staff and feel-good factor make for a great night to be had by all.
Wallet damage: Nada, gratis. Free entry all night.
Where: El Loco at the Excelsior Hotel – 64 Foveaux St, Surry Hills. Only a couple of minutes’ walk down from Crown St or up from Central Station.
When: Things get started early at El Loco – join us for dinner and happy hour from 6pm and prepare for the party ahead. The late-night party really kicks in around 10pm with DJs and the dancefloor keeping spirits high all the way through until 3am.