There’s a collective sigh of relief all over Sydney when capacity limits in hospitality venues are eased, and our favourite bars get back to business as usual. So if you’ve wanted to hit Surry Hills for a bar crawl with your mates, there’s no better way to celebrate the easing of Covid restrictions.
Planning a Surry Hills bar crawl comes with a built-in advantage considering that many of the neighbourhood’s watering holes are within walking distance from each other. Surry Hills is also an ideal nightlife hub as it’s packed with a smorgasbord of dive bars, classic pubs, underground lounges, themed restaurants, and other trendy hotspots.
Local businesses have always been the heartbeat of Surry Hills, and they continue to give vibrance to the neighbourhood today, even after the ill-effects of the pandemic. A bar crawl with good friends is not only a fun way to catch up; it’s also a much-appreciated way of giving back to the community, especially to the small businesses who need it the most.
Bar crawl logistics can take at least a day or two to plan, and now with safety protocols to consider, you might feel a tad overwhelmed with so many details to bear in mind. Take it easy though, this comprehensive guide on where to go and what to eat and drink in Surry Hills will help you put together an epic night. So go and enjoy yourself and, as always, drink responsibly!
What makes Surry Hills the best bar crawl destination?
What truly makes Surry Hills a great bar crawl destination is the proximity between bars and pubs, which are easily reachable by foot (or a quick Uber trip if you’re feeling especially lazy). You’re sure to find what you’re craving at Surry Hills, too, as the neighbourhood is teeming with cuisines from all over the world.
Many classic pubs within the district have also retained their original architecture, giving patrons a somewhat historical tour alongside their binge-fest. If you time your bar crawl right, you’ll find a handful of Surry Hills bars and pubs that offer happy hour menu throughout the week, like Butter’s $3 Wings every evening and Soultrap’s $6 beer on tap from 4 pm to 6 pm.
Secret bars for your Surry Hills pub crawl route
Surry Hills is the perfect destination to explore some of Sydney’s best secret bars. Try some of these underground joints to truly drink like the locals, taking your Sydney bar crawl from ‘great’ to ‘one for the ages’.
Right above Four Pillars Laboratory, the radical gin distillery, souvenir shop, and masterclass workshop in one sits Eileen’s Bar, a sleek and modern bar that will delight any gin lover’s soul. Eileen’s Bar features Eileen, a 70-litre metallic barrel where small batches of gin are produced and exclusively served at the bar. However, it’s not just gin and tonic that people come for at Eileen’s Bar. Try out their exciting selection of beer & cider, too, and while you’re at it, have a bite of their gin-infused chocolates at their souvenir shop.
It must be curious to see a long line of patrons right outside Bobby’s Boss Dogs at Wentworth Avenue for anyone not in the know. Behind the Coca-Cola door of the shop façade lies The Soda Factory, one of Surry Hills’ best venues for bar crawls and live music. American diner-esque food offerings abound in The Soda Factory, with $1 hotdogs available all Tuesdays long. With its layers of brick, vintage pin-up posters, and antique furniture, it’s no wonder The Soda Factory is a top spot for drinking and dancing to live bands. No visit is complete without trying their famed Soda Floats, and you can even create your own combination.
Tucked inside Hotel Harry is its signature restaurant, Harpoon Harry, which serves sumptuous Cuban fare alongside Caribbean-inspired cocktail flavours like chilli-infused Tequila and pineapple & lychee rum. Take long sips of Harpoon Harry’s $10 cocktails, served all day, every day, or if you’re up for something boozier, their 22-set bottled beer menu is worth a gulp. Pair it up with their trademark Beef & Jalapeño Cheese Nachos or their Chargrilled Piri Piri Chicken Sandwich.
Don’t think of Tokyo Bird as a mere Japanese restaurant as the place is anything but ordinary. You’ll be surprised to find it offers an impressive variety of Japanese whiskies, cocktails, and beers. Sake, yuzu, and green tea are commonly found in their cocktail menu, making their selection even more adventurous. While their tap and bottled beer menu are not as extensive as the others, their focus on Japanese cuisine is what makes Tokyo Bird stand out from the rest. Naturally, you’d want to pair those drinks with their mouth-watering yakitori (chicken grilled on a skewer) and kushiyaki (grilled meat or vegetable) bites.
It may be hidden underground, but one of Surry Hills’ secret bars is anything but a mystery to the locals who call it their ride-or-die regular. With its speakeasy vibes, rustic brick walls, and finely-milled fedora hat collection, Soultrap draws in a diverse crowd. Partygoers and connoisseurs unite in their enjoyment of Soultrap’s irresistible selection of drinks, with beer, cider, cocktails and wine to quench every thirst. Soultrap is also a premier hidden event space with standup comedy, live music, and even burlesque shows filling their calendar. For first-timers, we highly recommend their “Cocktails of the Gram” selection, a specialty cocktail menu for those who love an over-the-top tipple.
What do fried chicken tenders, Air Jordans, and champagne flutes have in common? These three can all be found at a one-stop-hybrid-shop that is Butter. This dynamic establishment, located at Hunt Street, echoes New York City’s revolutionary street culture. Butter’s concept isn’t just a mere fad; the radical sneaker shop and resto-bar is actually a hit among a range of demographics. Bring your own pair of sneakers for their Sip N Drip activity, wherein their creative staff teaches you to paint and design your shoes while gulping down on some champagne, beer & cider, or sparkling wine.
Pick Surry Hills for your next Surry Hills craft brew crawl
Surry Hills offers the best of everything you’d want in a neighbourhood – family-owned shops, street art, restaurants & bars in close proximity, and the overall communal vibe that emanates from its friendly locals.
Its artistic-meets-industrial energy is reminiscent of other prominent city neighbourhoods such as the East Village in New York City or Kreuzberg in Berlin – places where people gather together to eat, drink, and carouse. One thing that makes Surry Hills stand out, though, is the prevalence of craft beer culture within its perimeters. Sydney’s craft beer revolution has surged over the last few years, and Surry Hills has been at the forefront of this microbrewery movement.
Leading this pack is Sydney Brewery Surry Hills, the annexed bar to Rydges Sydney Central Hotel, just a quick jaunt from Central Station. The craft brewery and bar boasts of 12 signature draught beers with the Albion Ale, a specialty tap crafted as a homage to its Albion Street location, as the clear best-seller. Groups of 6 or more participants can dive into a $40 per person brewery tour with a $25 tasting menu included.
From Albion Street, hop on to Commonwealth Street, where you’ll find the Royal Albert Hotel, a Surry Hills veteran in the craft beer game. With its traditional interiors of a dark wood countertop matched with stained-glass windows, The Royal Albert Hotel is anything but old-fashioned. Their 12 tap selection rotates from time to time, so there’s always something new and different to try. The Alby’s food offerings are typical, old-school pub fare, like burgers and hot dogs, but with a modern twist that pairs perfectly with a Gen X Pale Ale.
Next, head southeast to Foveaux Street and treat yourself to a schooner of Angstrom Voltaic Pale Ale, Keg & Brew’s trademark local beer on tap. The cowhide bar panels surrounding the main bar serving area hold up to 33 beer taps, with 27 of these taps pouring out specialty craft beers. Keg & Brew also serves an impressive collection of over 30 bourbon varieties. This crowd favorite has one of the most eclectic food menus in Surry Hills, serving vegetarian nachos, wagyu burgers, and even oysters.
Don’t forget to stop by Soultrap on Campbell Street, offering a range of local and international contenders perfect for any Surry Hills craft beer crawl. With draught offerings from Mountain Goat and Young Henry’s, it’s the perfect spot to mellow out and enjoy a brew with a more-ish cheese board on the side.
How late are Surry Hills bars open?
Most Surry Hills bars and pubs remain open until midnight, both during the weeknights and on weekends. Spots like Harpoon Harry’s, The Soda Factory, and Keg & Brew, however, stay open right up until 3 am. Several Surry Hills bars also open up in time for lunch, if you’re after a cheeky workday drink, but most start their day between 3 pm and 5 pm.
For some bars, like Soultrap and The Soda Factory, Sundays and Mondays are a time to shut up shop and recuperate from the weekend that was. In general, it’s a good idea to call your pubs of choice or check out their Facebook page to confirm if they’re continuing to operate at their regular hours. With the many recent changes due to Covid-19, getting up-to-date information will help you plan the greatest Surry Hills pub crawl of all time, minus any unpleasant surprises.
What to eat on a Surry Hills pub crawl
Pub grub these days goes way beyond the staple burgers and fries, and lucky for us, Surry Hills is the epicurean mecca of Sydney. As you head off on an alcoholic adventure, be sure to take a bite of some of the best bar food that Surry Hills has to offer. Among our favourites are the gin-flavoured bites at Eileen’s Bar, like Salt + gin vinegar crisps at Eileen’s Bar, Tokyo Bird’s Kawa Yakitori (Crispy Chicken Skin), and Soultrap’s Mediterranean-inspired pizza selection.
If you’re on the lookout for share platters and finger food, we’d like to suggest the mouthwatering cheese & charcuterie boards found at the legendary Soultrap. And while you’re at it, try out one of their signature pizzas, too, like the Prosciutto & Bocconcini and firey Nduja & Parmesan. If fast-and-greasy is more your style, go with Butter’s Fried Chicken Feast, complete with prawn chips, crispy fried chicken wings, pickles, and even a hot cinnamon donut.
For those preferring plant-based chow, you’ll feel relieved knowing Surry Hill’s pubs and bars offer vegan and vegetarian options. The Soda Factory has a slew of meat-free meals like the Do You Know I’m Vegan burger and Like A Vegan hot dog. The Royal Albert Hotel’s Asian Vegetable Spring Rolls and Vegetarian Mixed Dumplings are also fantastic veggie-packed picks to accompany your beverage of choice. Other delectable vegan-friendly options include Soultrap’s zesty Greenhouse Pizza and Keg & Brew’s Alternative Meat Co Un-Chicken Schnitzel. Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find it tucked away on a Surry Hills corner.
Transport options: How to get home after your Surry Hills bar crawl
A necessary part of your pub crawl planning should include how to get home after a night of indulging. No matter how well you think you can hold your alcohol, drinking and driving just don’t mix, so best to avoid that scenario altogether. Having a designated driver among the group definitely helps, but if that particular friend gets caught up in the moment and gulps one drink too many, then what next?
Thankfully, Surry Hills has a handful of transport options available, even late into the night. If you can still walk steadily after your boozefest, then you can still catch the Metro if you’re done before midnight. Otherwise, there’s NightRide Buses or the Light Rail’s Route L1, both operating after midnight. Since train and bus schedules have changed several times during the pandemic, it’s best to pre-plan and check to see if your Metro, NightRide Bus, or Light Rail route still runs during the late hours.
If you’d rather hail a taxi, make sure you do so at a secure taxi rank location, especially after dark. However, the easiest way to go would be to book a rideshare so you can comfortably and conveniently relax on the journey home. Whether you prefer Uber, DiDi, or Ola, as long as all of you make it back home, it’s the perfect end to a successful night for you and your mates.
Organised Surry Hills bar crawls
If your schedule right now is tight, or if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with all the details that go into planning a pub crawl, fret not. There’s a bunch of organised Surry Hills bar crawls available with all the details figured out. All that’s left to do is sign up and show up.
Drink & Discover Secret Bar Crawl is a top-rated and reviewed nightlife event for locals and tourists alike. Whether you come alone or with your small posse (think less than 6 participants), you’ll enjoy this organised pub crawl which will take you to up to 4 hidden bars around the Surry Hills and Darlinghurst areas. Not only is this a drinking session, but you’ll also be getting a historical and educational tour too. The bar crawl’s guide will share folklore, antics, and even Aussie slang every tourist should know.
For those without company and in the mood to mingle, the Darlinghurst & Surry Hills Secret Bar Crawl for Singles & Solos could be the better option for you. Hang out with fellow solo travellers and discover the best in small bars in Surry Hills and neighbouring Darlinghurst with an intimate crowd. Expect to indulge in unique drinks, delicious grub, and perhaps even an extended night of dancing or karaoke (or both?). And who knows, you might end up not being so solo anymore once the night is over. wink, wink
How many bars are in a bar crawl?
A standard bar crawl usually includes about 4 to 6 bars over a 4- to 5-hour period. While it’s been done before, going to more than 6 bars in a night will usually leave participants knackered, especially if the bar crawl’s entire route is covered by foot.
On the flip side, doing less than 4 bars makes it hardly a bar “crawl” at all, so aim to plan around 4 to 6 bars – ideally all within walking distance from each other, or at the very least, easily accessible by public transportation. One helpful tip to help you plan: it’s always convenient to plan the last stop at an establishment close to a train or bus station that still operates late into the night.
What is pub golf?
Pub golf is actually just a pub crawl decked out in golf apparel, sans the greenery. What makes pub golf different from a typical pub crawl is the inclusion of golf costumes and rules that echo how the sport is played. Basically, the pub crawl route is the fairway, and participants have either a selection of nine or eighteen pubs as the “holes.”
Along the “course,” all participants have to consume both designated drinks at each pub/hole. Scoring is done by “par” – meaning the number of gulps a player takes to consume each designated drink. The participant/golfer with the least amount of sips (“under par”) in total at the end of pub golf is the clear winner. It might sound a little silly at first, but this drinking game definitely livens up any planned pub crawl with friends.