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Sydney Nightlife

Bayswater Brasserie
32 Bayswater Road
Kings Cross
Sydney
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9357 2177
www.bayswaterbrasserie.com.au

This Kings Cross institution never seems to lose its luster, thanks to a Parisian bistro vibe and a fast and furious staff who mix up killer cocktails—like the Shizco, made with Peruvian pisco and spiced ginger syrup—from the zinc-topped bar. It's a great place to meet for pre- or post-dinner drinks, regardless of whether you're eating in the excellent adjoining restaurant, which features a raw bar and bistro classics such as soufflés, foie gras terrine, and grilled sirloin.

Open Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays at 5 pm, Fridays at noon, and Sundays 5 to 10 pm.

Blu Horizon Bar
Shangri-La Hotel
176 Cumberland Street
Central Business District
Sydney
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9250 6013
www.shangri-la.com/en/property/sydney/shangrila/dining/restaurant/bluhorizonbar

If you get vertigo easily, you'll want to avoid this 36th-floor place; the views, through 16-foot glass walls, will buzz you even more than the drinks. That's not to say the bartenders are slouches, though—the team here mixes up some pretty distinctive cocktails. The "Showgirl"—a concoction of Absolut and lychee liqueur with fresh strawberries and lychees—is sure to help you get your happy on; you can also try the equally deadly sounding "Carnival in Rio" —Bacardi, cachaca, and blackberry liqueur with lime, mint, and sugar.

Open Sundays 5 pm to midnight, Mondays through Thursdays 5 pm to 1 am, Fridays and Saturdays 5 pm to 2 am.

Bungalow 8 Sydney
8 the Promenade
King Street Wharf
Darling Harbour
Sydney
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9299 4660
www.bungalow8sydney.com

Forget everything you know about the Manhattan nightspot of the same name; this completely unrelated bar, with its rattan furniture, cane lanterns, and bamboo ceilings, is definitively Australian. First, there are the views across Darling Harbour, which make a fabulous backdrop for summer drinks; cocktails aren't mixed here, but there's plenty of cold Aussie beer, crisp white wine, and about 35 vodkas to choose from. And though weekends bring trendy crowds vying to charm their way past the doorman, weeknights are more relaxed, with specials like all-you-can-eat mussel feasts.

Open Sundays and Mondays through Thursdays noon to 1 am, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 3 am.

Gay & Lesbian Nightlife

While Sydney's gay scene isn't quite the powerhouse it once was (many same-sex couples are opting to settle down in further-flung suburbs), the town is still a major destination for gay travelers looking to party. Most of the clubs and bars are clustered around Oxford Street, especially in Taylor Square. You can dance until the wee hours (most opt to do so sans shirt) at ARQ, which also runs a drag talent show on Thursday nights. The dance music is the big draw at Home, a funky club in a futuristic glass building on Darling Harbour, but the views are just as good. Nightly entertainment at the Stonewall Hotel runs the gamut from DJs to male dancers to ribald drag acts Tess Tickle, Candy Box, and Shelly Legs Diamond. The hard-bodied boy crowd goes to the Midnight Shift for the anthemic music and campy atmosphere. Expect pumping dance tunes and unabashed homages to female gay icons (hello, Britney!). No matter what time of the day or night you pass by, the Colombian is always jumping, whether it's with hard-core clubbers dancing on the second level at 1 am or partyers winding down with Bloody Marys on a Sunday afternoon. The ground-level bar has French doors open to the street for prime people-watching, especially during the Mardi Gras parade. A major renovation has turned the iconic Beauchamp Hotel bar into a cool little cocktail spot, with an oasis of moodily lit corners on the second-floor terrace plus a sexy subterranean bar, Velvet.

Hemmesphere
Establishment Hotel
242 George Street
4th Floor
Central Business District
Sydney
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9420 3040
www.merivale.com/establishment/hemmesphere

This soignée, Moroccan-themed bar is the swankiest at the Establishment property (which includes a fine-dining restaurant, boutique hotel, and several drinking holes). Well-heeled types and celebs (Sting and Robbie Williams have been spotted here) come to listen to DJs spinning soul, funk, and bossa nova, and the live jazz band that plays on Friday nights. Every imaginable libation is available here, including absinthe; the "applesinthe," one of the most popular concoctions, is a blend of Green Fairy absinthe, apple Schnapps, passion fruit purée, apple juice, and a touch of lime over crushed ice.

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 5:30 pm to 1 am, Thursdays 5:30 pm to 1:30 am, Fridays 3 pm to 2 am, Saturdays 6 pm to 2 am.

Hugo's Bar Pizza
33 Bayswater Road
King's Cross
Sydney
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9332 1227
www.hugos.com.au

Yes, there's pizza—but what really draws the almost-too-gorgeous types here is the glamorous backlit bar, the great cocktails, and the other hotties that come to bump elbows with one another. There's also a sunken lounge and fireplace, which keeps things cozy. The only drawback here is the attitude: Some staff can be curt and dismissive if you don't seem sufficiently fabulous.

Open Mondays through Saturdays from 6 pm, Sundays from 3 pm.

Loft
3 Lime Street
King Street Wharf
Central Business District
Sydney
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9299 4770
www.theloftsydney.com

Massive, loud, and with floor-to-ceiling views of Sydney Harbour, this place is a magnet for the young and trendy. Expect lines on the weekends for the privilege of slouching in the comfy living-room-style chairs and talking above the blasting rock 'n' roll. Drinks here can be inconsistent, but no one seems to mind.

Open Sundays noon to 1 am, Mondays through Wednesdays 4 pm to 1 am, Thursdays 4 pm to 3 am, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 3 am.

Ruby Rabbit
231 Oxford Street
Darlinghurst
Sydney
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9332 3179
www.rubyrabbit.com.au

The downstairs bar is cool enough, with its kitschy wallpaper and flowering, tufted bar, but the real action is upstairs, in the Baroque grandeur of the second floor, where ornate gilt mirrors, crystal chandeliers, and wall sconces lend a sense of being transported to Marie Antoinette's court. On the same floor, the Arabian Nights–style bar, draped in heavy curtains, serves pricey drinks to a hip crowd that comes to watch a changing array of live performers. Despite the grandiose setting, the crowd skews towards young arty/fashion types.

Opens Tuesdays through Saturdays at 9 pm.

Zeta
Hilton Sydney
488 George Street
4th Floor
Central Business District
Sydney
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9265 6070
www.zetabar.com.au

It's hard to believe that the hottest bar in town is in a Hilton—but on weekend nights, the proprietors here practically have to beat the crowds back. The space is long and expansive, but the candlelit groups of comfortable chairs mean you can still have intimate conversations, and all the space means you'll never feel claustrophobic, even when the crowds are thick. In good weather, take your drinks out to the deck; it overlooks the beautiful Queen Victoria Building across the street.

Open Mondays through Wednesdays from 5 pm, Thursdays and Fridays from 3 pm, Saturdays from 4 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.