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Top 10 small bars
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Where to go after midnight
Late night small bars in Sydney
It's getting close to the witching hour and your favourite venue is about to call last drinks, what are your late night options for small bars?
New in 2013
A compact corner bar on Cleveland street with a relaxed, open interior and cocktails for grown-ups: 7/10
The Wild Rover
75 Campbell Street, Surry Hills
It was a long time coming but this Irish-themed small bar by the same owners of Grandma’s has finally opened its doors. Unlike the small rabbit warren feel of its city counterpart, The Wild Rover has spacious high ceilings and spreads across two levels. Don’t worry about negotiating the stairs for a drink – there are bars on both levels so find a spot and settle in. If the bar staff are not too busy, they will offer table service too. That’s almost a shame because the venue is worth exploring and appreciating some of the finishing details.
The space is surprising – from the outside you enter through a simple wooden door dressed in light green, and it does little to betray the large interior. While it is Irish themed (Wild Rover is a Irish folk song), it’s subtle with green tiling to offset the rich rustic touches, plenty of Irish Whiskey slections and Guinness on tap ($7.50). Don’t stress if you are looking for other options as there are wines by-the-glass ($8-$12), beers (starting at $7.50) and a cocktail menu that makes you feel at times that you’re having a meal rather than the drink.
The cocktails are a little more out there, but take an adventurous outlook and you will be rewarded. If you are ordering cocktails for more than one member of your group, a good idea is to order a different one for each person and try them all – a little like plate-sharing for drinks. One notable feature, and it’s not immediately obvious on the menu, is the three variations on a Bloody Mary (all are $16). The first is a clear tomato consommé version that arrives without any of the deep red you’d expect from the classic drink. It may not appeal to everyone as it tastes like the equivalent of a weak tomato martini. Further up the scale are the Red Snapper (which is closest to the classic) and Kilpatrick Bloody Mary - almost a hearty meal in itself. One of the more interesting listings is Root of the Earth, a rare beetroot-based drink with agave, pinot, vanilla and rum that is both surprisingly light and perfectly balanced ($17). This is a notable aspects of The Wild Rover - the drink prices are in the lower range of what many small bars are charging around Sydney. It’s not a bargain but you’ll get great drinks at a reasonable price with friendly service.
In brief: The Wild Rover
Best things: Big airy space, high ceilings, subtle themes without the usual tackiness associated with Irish bars.
Don't miss: Three versions of the Bloody Mary and the beetroot based Root of the Earth
Ideal for: Small groups, dates, catch-ups with friends, after work drinks
Date tip: Try one of the two booths on the ground floor, but they are very popular. Otherwise head upstairs and find a corner.
Gripes: The large hard services tend to bounce the sound. The menu board uses a great old CityRail destinations board, but there is no printed version.
Last updated: November 2013
You are here: The Wild Rover, Surry Hills review and address. Rustic touches and an adventurous cocktail menu are perfectly executed in this subtlely themed Irish bar.