The finalists for the 18th Annual Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards will be announced next week in the July issue when it lands in bars, and ahead of that we thought we’d reveal the finalists for a few awards this week.
Yesterday we announced the best whisky bars in Australia — the 10 finalists for the 2018 Whisky Bar of the Year — and today it’s all about the best rum bars.
The Bar Awards takes place on Tuesday the 18th 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 15th to the 19th of September — click here to visit the barweek.com.au and check out the full timetable; there’s over 25 events happening over the five days, with RSVPs for some events open now. RSVP ASAP to make sure you don’t miss out.
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.
- Grandma’s Bar, Sydney
- Hains & Co, Adelaide
- Hula Bula, Perth
- Jacoby’s Tiki Bar, Sydney
- Kittyhawk, Sydney
- Rude Boy, Hobart
- Sneaky Tony’s, Perth
- The Lobo Plantation, Sydney
- The Rum Bar, Airlie Beach
- The Rum Diary Bar, Melbourne
Grandma’s Bar, Sydney
Basement, 275 Clarence Street, Sydney
Grandma’s is one of the original, old school Sydney small bars, opening in 2011 (or was it 2010? We can’t remember that well.) Self-described as a “retro-sexual haven of cosmopolitan kitsch and faded granny glamour,” the place has long been known for great cocktails and good, rum-driven times. Expect to find a good whack of old school tiki favourites on the cocktail list, and prepare to lose track of time down in the basement — the place makes you feel like you’re anywhere but the bustling Sydney CBD.
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.
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.
This stalwart of the Perth bar scene is just goddamn fun. It’s as kitsch as tiki gets, 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 Mai Tai’s (it’s happened to us and many others — it’s not your fault).
Jacoby’s Tiki Bar, Sydney
154 Enmore Road, Enmore
Sitting on Enmore Road in Enmore, between Queens Hotel and the Enmore Theatre, it’s like the neighbourhood tiki bar you’ve always needed but never knew you did.
The idea for Jacoby’s came about after Earl’s Juke Joint owner Pasan Wijesena and Adrain Sanchez spent a night at legendary LA tiki bar, Tiki Ti, and decided to open a bar with another Earl’s alum, James Fury and Earl’s regular customer and tiki aficioando, Stu Ellis.
What can you expect here? Well, a high standard of cocktails is a given — and they’re get the balance right with their classic-heavy tiki menu — but they importantly get the escapism of tiki right. Once you’re through the door, and the music comes up as the light goes down, you’ll be happy to be out of your world (and into Jacoby’s).
16 Phillip Lane, Sydney
At Kittyhawk, there’s much to like — from the stately bar that dominates the space, to the attentive table service, and the banging drinks. It’s a bar that brings a little character to the often boring Sydney financial district, and is an essential stop on any bar hop around the area. Here, they’ve split their spirits focus between rye whiskey and rum — coming from the team that put together two-time Rum Bar of the Year, The Lobo Plantation, it’s no surprise to see Kittyhawk back on on the list for second year.
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.
Sneaky Tony’s, Perth
38 Roe St, Northbridge
Walk down the streets of Perth’s Chinatown, search for the unmarked door 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).
The Lobo Plantation, Sydney
Basement, 209 Clarence Street, Sydney
The Lobo Plantation is the reigning, two-time champion of the Rum Bar of the Year title at the Bar Awards and for good reason..
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.
Now five years old, they continue to go from strength to strength.
The 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 for the third year in a row.
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.