Small bars open after midnight
It's past 11pm and your favourite venue is about to call last drinks. Apart from a seedy club in Kings Cross, what are your late night options? Despite most small bars closing at midnight (with last drinks often called at 11:30pm), there are several places to grab a late night drink. On weekends, many are open to the respectable times of 3am (it used to be 4am of 5am, but new laws in 2014 have changed everything). One thing to consider with late night bars is that there will probably be a line if it's Friday or Saturday night, plus many must abide by the 1:30am lockout rule - unless you escape the lookout zone. If you plan ahead and get to the bar a little earlier to beat the crowds facing the same dilemma, the lines will be a lot shorter and quicker moving. Popular bars such as Baxter Inn and Palmer & Co always have a line on a Friday or Saturday throughout the night. There is nothing wrong with waiting a few minutes but use your judgement. Small bars don't hold many people, so even short lines can take a while. If it's near midnight and there are more than 20 people in the queue, you can expect a long, long wait.
Below are listed, for each area, the late night small bars and cocktail bars open after midnight on Fridays and Saturdays (from the earliest closing time until the latest). Some won't open so late during week days - on these nights contact the bar for more details.
Closes 1am: if it's Friday or Saturday night, lines would have started to form at 9pm. If you're nearby, you can always try your luck but don't plan to just walk straight in. The line moves very slowly. You'll have a better chance on a wet winter's night.
Closes 3am (1:30am lockout): another popular bar that has sporadic lines. Tends to be busier earlier on Fridays with the after work crowd, and later on Saturdays. Lines come and go but the longest waiting times are around midnight.
Closes 1am: with all the competition from the small bars in the area, Ching-a-lings has lost a little of its edge. The good news is that there are rarely lines but expect a DJ playing loud tracks as this is one of the few small bars with a dance area.
Closes 3am weekends (1:30am lockout), 2am weekdays (or earlier if it a quiet night): the elegance and sophistication of this bar is not immediately obvious when entering the bar's battered grilled door. Descend the stairs, admire the fitout, then sit back and relax. One door back from the corner of William Street. 169 Darlinghurst Rd.
Closes 3am: On the edge of Crows Nest lies this gem outside of the lockout zone. Open to 3am with bottle holding service. You can drop in here on the way home from the city, or use it to escape the only other of post-midnight option, The Crowie (Crows Nest Hotel). But be aware that the bar will shut earlier if the night is quiet (10pm close on Sunday, and it's not open Mondays).
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