It’s nearly time for the announcement of all the finalists for the 17th Annual Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards. Ahead of the announcement in the July issue — which lands in bars later this week — we thought we’d reveal the finalists for a few awards this week: today, we’re listing the best rum bars in Australia — the 10 finalists for 2017’s Rum Bar of the Year.
The Bar Awards takes place on Tuesday the 19th of September this year, and is just one of the many great events in store for Sydney Bar Week this year, taking place from the 16th to the 20th of September — check back this week to catch the full timetable of 22 big events over five days and keep an eye on barweek.com.au.
If you’re keen to exhibit or to sponsor at one of the great Sydney Bar Week events we have lined up, get in touch with David Spanton on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a look at the 10 best rum bars in Australia below.
Rum Bar of the Year
Proudly sponsored by BACARDI
To be eligible for this award, the bar must have a broad selection of rum, highlight rum cocktails where cocktails are listed, and employ staff who are knowledgeable on the category.
- Hains & Co, Adelaide
- Highball Express, Canberra
- Hula Bula, Perth
- Kittyhawk, Sydney
- Rude Boy, Hobart
- Rum Bar, Airlie Beach
- Rum Diary Bar, Melbourne
- Sneaky Tony’s, Perth
- South Seas Cocktail Lounge, Hobart
- The Lobo Plantation, Sydney
Find out more about each of these great bars below.
Hains & Co, Adelaide
23 Gilbert Place, Adelaide
Hains & Co is the kind of place you’d walk into if you’re just looking for a good time. In fact, they’ve adopted the motto of “Lifting Spirits” for that very reason. But if you’re looking for the details, you’ll find those too.
The back room is tiled in racing green and reminiscent of the art deco work in London tube stations in the pre-war era; the arched ceiling above is timbered, each slender beam shaped to resemble the bow of a ship and put painstakingly in place by Motteram — read our profile of Hains & Co, here.
Highball Express, Canberra
Level 1, 82 Alinga Street, Canberra
This is the second year we’ve had the Rum Bar of the Year award at the Bar Awards, and it’s the second year running that this Canberra bar has hit the list.
The Highball Express is named for the airline that transported wealthy Americans, who, during the dry years of Prohibition, were keen to get to the Caribbean and get their drink on.
Hula Bula, Perth
12 Victoria Ave, Perth
When you think rum, you most definitely will end up thinking tiki, and few bars have been flying the tiki flag for as long as Perth’s famous Hula Bula Bar.
It’s as tiki as you get, and once inside the thatched doors of this rum-soaked South Seas getaway, you’re bound to lose track of time. It’s probably the Man Tai’s (it happened to us).
16 Phillip Lane, Sydney
This rum and rye loving newcomer to the Sydney scene celebrated its first birthday last week. At Kittyhawk, there’s much to like — from the stately bar that dominates the space, to the attentive table service, and the banging drinks. Coming from the team that put together last year’s Rum Bar of the Year, The Lobo Plantation, it’s no surprise to see their love of rum extend to this bar, m and to see Kittyhawk taking up a spot on this list.
Rude Boy, Hobart
130 Elizabeth Street, Hobart
This Hobart bar opened at the start of 2017, and has been flying the flag for the flavours of the Caribbean — and the region’s signature spirit, rum.
To that end, they’ve got a well-stocked back bar that showcases rums from right around the Caribbean — whether it’s the French Caribbean islands and their rhum agricoles, to Trinidad, Jamaica, and even further afield to South America. The food takes on the same flavour — we’d be rather happy with the whole school prawns with jerk seasoning — and a handy selection of cocktails rounds out the offering.
Rum Bar, Airlie Beach
303 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach
Long before rum was a thing in the best bars in the land, Mark Wyatt of the Rum Bar Airlie Beach was flying the flag and singing its praises. With a selection that now runs north of 560 different rums from all parts of the world, Wyatt — also known as Dr Rum — offers the kind of assistance into the world of rum that only the experience of the better part of three decades can offer.
It’s no surprise to us to see these rum bar pioneers on the list again.
Rum Diary Bar, Melbourne
334 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
You’ve got to admire a bar whose house made spiced rum blend is so good that it becomes bottled and made available around the country, and that’s exactly what has happened with this Melbourne rum bar.
The Rum Diary Bar is one those little bars in Melbourne that build up a big reputation, wiht a welcoming sense of hospitality, and enough rum to make you not want to leave for a while; we also have loved on their cocktail list in the past — take a look at here — and the way in which they’ve demystified the back bar.
Sneaky Tony’s, Perth
38 Roe St, Northbridge
Walk down the streets of Perth’s Chinatown, search for the unmarked door and make sure you remember your social media password (Friday and Saturday night) and you’ll be greeted with over 260 rums.
The bar is inspired by 1920’s Californian rum-runner Anthony ‘Tony the Hat’ Cornero. The Admiral, as he was also called, counted bootlegging and illegal offshore gambling operating among his his illustrious exploits (he would go on to run legal casinos in Las Vegas).
South Seas Cocktail Lounge, Hobart
13- 17 Castray Esplanade, Battery Point
What’s happening in Hobart? There must be something about the climate down there conducive to rum-drinking and dreaming of getaways, because South Seas Cocktail Lounge is the second Hobart bar on this list.
As you might be able to guess from the name, this bar is mining a bit of a nautical theme; it’s there on their cocktail list, with signature drinks like Bligh’s Downfall, and all through its iconography. There;’s definitely a tiki vibe going on here — which we love — and their cocktail list makes handy use of rum, with tiki drinks like the Three Dots and a Dash making an appearance, along with a Ti Punch and the Painkiller.
The Lobo Plantation, Sydney
Basement, 209 Clarence Street, Sydney
Last but certainly not least, it’s The Lobo Plantation — the reigning Rum Bar of the Year.
The Lobo Plantation redefined the way Sydney looked at rum; while embracing the agricultural origins of the spirit, it also added a touch of glamour and high-end style to the category and to the cocktails, one that you wouldn’t have found out of place in the Art Deco Prohibition period.
They’ve got an outstanding collection of rums, from across the globe, with a killer cocktail list and great staff behind the stick. Add to that the atmosphere of the place when it’s humming — and that’s something you’re going to want to sample — and you’ve got a truly world class bar.