Pub-crawling through the Rocks

October 21, 2014 at 11:11 am

If we were to take a stroll back in time to the 19th Century, we’d hit a period in Sydney’s past when the first cobblestones were being laid in the historic Rocks precinct. Cue Ryan Auberson-Walsh’s take on the best places to have a drink in the shadows of former convicts and colonists this summer.


For any good cocktail/spirits/general beer enthusiast, organising a catch up with friends in the Argyle courtyard is truly one for the history books. With tunes bouncing across timber and sandstone, the rustic feel of the place is truly inspiring when sipping on something from behind the bar.

Savour a taste that would, at least if you down enough of them, transport you to rolling hills in the countryside – give the Apple Crumble (think whisky, butterscotch liqueur, pressed apple juice and some cinnamon to garnish) a go. And for those who prefer something a tad lighter, the wine list appears never-ending – and it won’t leave you completely penniless.

But what if you’re feeling peckish? They’ve got you sorted at the Canteen, with everything from ricotta-stuffed zucchini blossoms to Southern Style chicken wings. Though a special mention has to go to their porcini mushroom arancini.

Stay till late and the upstairs transforms into an intimate nightclub, so make sure your liver can kick on into the evening if you feel like a good dance floor crump.


Orient Hotel

This is “The pub that rocks the Rocks” and that’s certainly not a lie. On almost every outing there you’ll be listening to a small-time act slamming their acoustic guitar strings to an iconic rock cover. The sounds of Cold Chisel to ACDC have bellowed across the ground floor by burgeoning Sydney musicians.

Out of all the neighbourhood venues, this is perhaps the most Australian of pubs. The downstairs is the kind of place where you opt for a cheap house white, one of the tap beers or a bourbon and coke. But take it outside in the warmer months and the attached courtyard is splendid for a cider in the sunshine.

Head upstairs and you’ll find a restaurant and cocktail bar that are much more suave. The winter menu dishes up some of the most mouth-watering edibles – there’s dory fillet with capers or beetroot risotto with goat’s cheese and walnuts. Let’s toast to a hopefully wonderful upcoming summer menu.


Dessert at Glenmore


You’ll need to be here for sunset. The ground and middle levels are prime for wining and dining with walls hued mint and salmon, giving off a seamless decadence that few Australian pubs can boast – but that’s thanks to some stylish décor that helps keep it from being an interior designer’s nightmare.

The Glenmore’s rooftop bar trumps anything you’d find outside of the precinct. Harbour views (albeit slightly blocked by neighbouring sandstone terraces) line the eastern balustrade, and the frequently docked ships at Circular Quay help reinvigorate the sense of pride any Sydneysider would have when chatting with awestruck tourists.

Genuine pub grub portions that have been upgraded with a more formal dining flair go hand in hand with any one of the zesty rooftop jugs, though a personal favourite would have to be the Rooftop Royale (Ketel 1, Chambord, mixed fruit, pineapple & lemonade). But swing by after 5pm – although it’s a little crowded as the sun goes down, it’s one of those few bustling bars where you can really take a line out of Darryl Kerrigan’s mouth and bask in “the serenity”.