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Bonza brews: The best pubs in Sydney
Top spots to get your drink on and mingle with Sydneysiders in the know
Of all Australia’s cities, Sydney is renowned by both visitors and locals as the place to be if you’re thirsty and after a generous measure of Aussie pub culture to scratch that itch.
The watery city boasts a pub on almost every corner, such is the devotion to the humble tavern, making it the best place in the country to quench a thirst with a cocktail or quaff a cold amber ale.
With such a selection of hostelries it’s a tall order, of course, to know where to wet your whistle. To help out, here’s our quick-start pub-crawl guide to some of the city's finest watering holes.
The Rose Hotel
Popular with university students, which is no surprise considering its setting right next to the University of Sydney, this Chippendale venue is a cool pub without the pretense.
The standout feature has to be its wonderful beer garden and the tasty menu of wood-fired pizzas.
Sunday sessions are a particularly good here, with the beer garden on a warm day the best place to while away a few hours amongst some inner-west "trendies."
Loaded with distinct decor and knickknacks, The Rose Hotel has a funky vibe and the bar staff are always friendly.
The Rose Hotel, 52-54 Cleveland St., Chippendale, +61 (0) 2 9318 1133, www.therosehotel.com.au
The Beach Road Hotel
A landmark on the Bondi strip, the odd crowd drawn to The Beach Road Hotel is a law unto itself.
The pub's always packed with an interesting mix of Bondi clientele from hardcore locals to backpackers, tourists and even the better-heeled sort of punter on the scene.
Posers, wannabe reality TV stars and those who just want to get down and boogie, all human life is here -- or at least it feels that way after a few ales.
The bar is inevitably busy most nights of the week, thanks to its notoriety as one of those places, and remains, oddly, both a meat market and a place to check out good live music.
Clearly, you won’t spend a dull night at The Beach Road.
The Beach Road Hotel, 71 Beach Road, Bondi Beach, + 61 (0) 2 9130 7247, www.beachroadbondi.com.au
The Shakespeare Hotel
Surry Hills may have more pubs per meter than any other suburb in Sydney, but there is none quite like The “Shakey.”
The Shakespeare Hotel is not showy or pretentious like its Surry Hills neighbors but is a pub full of characters and real people. Its beer is cold, its food cheap and its conversation always lively.
You can't go wrong with a menu where everything is just $12.50.
The Shakey is also the preferred venue of locals and News Limited hacks -- make of that what you will.
It might be a tad dark and dingy but it's a must-visit on any Sydney pub-crawl; plus, it is one of the last “real” pubs still open in the city -- no cocktail umbrellas here.
The Shakespeare Hotel, 200 Devonshire St., Surry Hills, +61 (0) 2 9319 6883.
The Bank Hotel
Fancy an after-work drink or a late-night cocktail? Then take it to The Bank (Hotel).
This upmarket Newtown pub has a bar for every kind of customer -- or bars, rather; the huge interior has more counters than we could clock, plus there’s a classic outdoor terrace for draining jugs of Pimm’s at night.
Located next to Newtown train station and right at the heart of King Street, this is an inner-west landmark you need to experience.
You might even bump into a famous musician or writer here, knocking back a Coopers or seven.
Bonus extras -- The Bank serves great Thai food and has a 24-hour liquor license.
The Bank Hotel, 324 King St., Newtown, +61 (0) 2 8568 1900, www.bankhotel.com.au
Probably the most swanky and fashionable pub in The Rocks, The Argyle projects a cool and exclusive image that might not be to everyone’s taste, but which is still worth a look.
It blends the colonial charm of the area with a modern sophistication and a 21st-century menu.
This sizeable venue has several different areas, including a vodka-centric bar and an excellent outdoor beer garden.
Cocktails, a solid wine list and a range of European-angled bar food (there’s Japanese Wagyu beef too) probably account for the slightly “posher” air than you’ll find in other real ale-style pubs.
The Argyle, 18 Argyle Street, The Rocks, +61 (0) 2 9247 5500, www.theargylerocks.com
The Greenwood Hotel
Renowned as the place to go to on the north shore, The Greenwood Hotel is North Sydney’s most stylish drinking venue.
Situated right in the middle of the skyscrapers of the north side’s Central Business District, the sandstone pub was a school in a previous life.
Naturally, the desks and school bells are on the outs, but the huge former playground still hosts parties and acts as a beer garden in summer.
Popular with city workers and the young social set on the affluent north side of the harbour, the Greenie is a pumping bar that always pulls in the crowds.
Look for the pub's Thursday-night special with DJs pumping house and R & B until 3 a.m. and a happy hour from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m., when most drinks are just $4.
The Greenwood Hotel, 36 Blue St., North Sydney, +61 (0) 2 9964 9477, www.greenwoodhotel.com
The Hotel Steyne
This Manly icon is easily the most famous and most beloved pub on the northern beaches.
For starters, The Hotel Steyne has a location that’s impossible to beat, right at the top part of the Corso and next to the calm blue waters of Manly Beach.
It also manages to maintain a nice mix of local charm and modern Australian hospitality.
It might have new owners, and be getting used to a recent refurb, but The Steyne is still a top spot to go for a TAB bet, a beer and a feed.
It now has three different bars, each with a separate theme as it aims to please all comers. One echoes local surfing culture, one is a pizza bar for the worker crowd and the other is a seafood café boasting the best produce the Pacific Ocean has to offer.
There's now even a cider bar on the top floor with more than 50 different varieties of scrumpy to try.
No trip to Manly is complete without having a schooner at The Steyne.
Hotel Steyne, 75 The Corso, Manly, +61 (0) 2 9977 4977, steynehotel.com.au
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That's just seven out of hundreds of pubs in the city -- let's hear about your favorites in the comments below.