When the sun is shining, which frankly it hasn't done enough of this summer, it's time to head for the great outdoors. Sydney's bar scene may be lacking in a few departments, but there's one thing we've always done pretty well, and that's beer gardens. So if the weather's fair and you need to get out of your house and get your drink on, then read on. Here are five of Sydney's finest outdoor drinking spots to while away a sunny afternoon or a balmy evening.
Courthouse Hotel 202 Australia St, Newtown
Image courtesy of Courthouse Hotel Facebook Profile
This beloved Newton watering hole lacks pretensions, draws an eclectic mix of patrons and has one of the best outdoor drinking areas in the city. The large courtyard at the back features oversized wooden benches and plenty of other spots to pull up and shoot the breeze with your mates. The pub's kitchen does a roaring trade in no-fuss, value-friendly pub meals, think steaks and burgers, and a never-ending stream of patrons from all walks of life flit in and out of the place. One of the few Sydney pubs that take AFL seriously, the Courty is also the place to meet to cheer on the Swans, if that floats your boat. Otherwise, stake out a spot in the sun and kick back, because the Courthouse remains one of the best spots in Sydney for an ale in the open air.
The Beresford Hotel 354 Bourke St, Darlinghurst
Given the deluxe makeover treatment thanks to Justin Hemmes' bottomless bags of money, the Beresford has been transformed from a rather seedy and boring Surry Hills watering hole into a slick inner-city boozer. While it thinks it's a bit cooler than it actually is, and the bartenders appear to have been hired for their looks and not their bartending skills, the beer garden out the back is a winner thanks to its huge area and nice decorative touches such as Chinese lanterns and shady maple trees. The space fills quickly on warm days, so get your skates on early to snag a table.
The Newport Arms is an institution. It sits high on a hill and offers staggering views of the shimmering blue waters of Pittwater below. If there's anything better than cold beer and that view, well, trust me, there isn't. The pub inside is massive and offers a host of drinking and dining areas. But don't worry about inside when the outside offers sunshine and grass under your feet. The Newport Arms draws pretty much every facet of society, including a large number of family groups, and is a must-visit for anyone interested in outdoor drinking. Just beware that unless you live on the Northern Beaches, you're miles from anywhere.
The Oaks is a beer barn on an epic scale. Inside there's bars with names like Governor's Tavern, Cue & Cushion and Nineteenthirtysix, all with different themes and all drawing punters in droves. But if the sun's out or the night air is balmy, ignore the inside and step out into one of Sydney's biggest and most popular beer gardens. Dominated by a massive 70-year-old oak tree and decorated with sparkling fairy lights, the Oaks' beer garden is a ripper and offers ample space to relax and chill out. The pub does a roaring trade every night as North Shore types stop by after a long day at the office for a cold one.
Opera Bar Lower Concourse, Sydney Opera House, City
It may be as touristy as all get out, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more impressive view from any drinking spot in Sydney. Set in the shadow of the Opera House and looking straight down the barrel at the old Coathanger, the Opera Bar knows full well what it has over its competitors. The first pub on the list for out-of-towners, Opera Bar packs them in all day, all night and all year long. As a result the crowd is very eclectic, but the absurd drink prices favour the well-heeled. Without its location, it would have about as much charm as 3 Wise Monkeys on a Saturday night. But try beating that view.
It wasn't Justin Hemmes who put his hard earned into the Beresford. It was a bloke called Ashod Nassibian who did a great job but ran out of money. Hemmes then came along, got it for a song and then takes the credit.