It’s a time-honoured yet unofficial part of corporate life. Membership of the after-work drinks crew isn’t mandatory, but it is a great way to boost your networks and let colleagues see you as more than the anonymous person in cubicle B12. All in moderation, of course. Save the AC/DC air guitar moves for your Uncle Frank’s 50th, but spend a little downtime with your colleagues instead of rushing out of the office on a Friday night and you might be surprised how quickly relationships are cemented – and that benefits you as well as your workplace. And let’s not be too serious about it: having a drink or two to unwind with colleagues can make for a happier team, especially at these great venues around Australia…
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El Loco at Slip Inn
Part of Sydney’s epoch-defining Merivale empire, El Loco at Slip Inn (the pub that made headlines as the place Princess Mary met Fred) is an after-work fiesta packing in the crowds with DJs, margaritas and excellent Latin snacks from chef Dan Hong. The leafy, brightly coloured courtyard is prime real estate in warmer weather.
Martin Place Bar
It’s no hidden secret: Martin Place Bar is a favourite with up-and-coming captains of industry and fledgling business titans. Cemented into the city’s post-work drinking scene since 2000, the central Sydney bar has a coveted al fresco area bordering pedestrianised Martin Place, and for after-work drinks of a fancier nature, there’s also a swish cocktail lounge.
The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room
Ultra-modern meets industrial at this upscale George Street venue. The Morrison combines Manhattan-slick élan with a choice in triplicate: the central Oyster Room, the Parlour or the Conservatory, an outdoor terrace. And while it looks a million bucks, there are wallet-pleasing happy hour specials.
Garden State Hotel
It’s bigger than Ben Hur. With four levels of architect-designed splendour, set around a leafy central atrium, this Flinders Lane newcomer has set the bar high, serving classic and contemporary cocktails by former Eau de Vie impresario Kevin Peters. (Here’s a tip: the downstairs Rose Garden cocktail bar has table service and it’s much quieter.) Hot-foot it from work in your finest shoes in time to beat the queue. Go to gardenstatehotel.com.au
Image: Garden State Hotel
A Docklands favourite, this Iberian-themed bar brings assured Spanish smarts to the area, including a well-stocked cellar courtesy of sommelier Jeff Salt, and excellent grazing food including croquettas, sardine fritti and jamon. Visit barnacional.com.au
Another multi-faceted behemoth with enough design nous to win central Melbourne’s lasting affection, this historic pub presents a clean-cut vibe with its aperitif bar then opens up to multiple other spaces including a magnificent central courtyard with retractable roof – just like Rod Laver Arena for the post-work drinking crowd. Go to collinsquarter.com
Did someone say speakeasy? Look for the entrance to Lucky’s through QT Hotel’s lobby barbershop. It’s a spacious, dimly lit cocktail hideaway with a special fondness for forgotten classics and boozy punch, and there are private curtained booths for imparting corporate secrets.
Central Canberra puts the olé into the after-work get-together with the lively, Mexican-themed Honkytonk’s, where drinkers spill into the fairy light-festooned forecourt. Relax with pitchers of sangria, frozen margaritas and tequila-based cocktails (including the Lagerita, a conversation-starting mixture of tequila, agave nectar, lime and lager).
Blackbird Bar and Grill
Forget the Blackbird’s critically acclaimed restaurant just for one moment: the bar with its curving, water-gazing terrace is just as compelling at this glam, Prohibition-inspired riverside venue. An all-weather space, complete with gold leather lounges in the sunshine overlooking Story Bridge, it specialises in unconventional cocktails and a huge range of whiskies.
When heritage good looks matter, this is your venue: a handsome sandstone Victorian bank, transformed into a bar posing as an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club. Whisky’s the main game – best sipped while sitting on a Chesterfield – but they do a mean Queensland piña colada (with pineapple, naturally) as well. Go to thegresham.com.au
A rooftop bar in Perth’s centre named after hard-drinking ex-Aussie PM Bob Hawke? Yes, Bob’s might look like a frivolous party joint, albeit one with panoramic views, but it takes its drinks very seriously indeed, whether it’s craft beer or a great wine selection.
Rockpool Bar & Grill
It’s not so much the tradesman’s entrance to Neil Perry’s clubbish Rockpool steakhouse, but rather the gold-plated ideal of the business-centric bar complete with “forgotten” cocktail recipes and the restaurant’s dizzying wine list. Plus you can order one of Perry’s famous wagyu burgers.
Everything you need under one central Adelaide roof, this Spanish pintxos and vino bar is small but perfectly formed, with moody-hued timbers, a mezzanine and courtyard. For drinks, take a hint from the 21 different spins on the classic gin and tonic, or the sinuous list of Spanish and Australian wine. Go to udaberri.com.au
Post Street Social
Hobart is fast rediscovering its waterfront, and Post Street Social, in a lavishly renovated historic building in Salamanca, is the latest to join the charge for harbour views. A locally focused drinks list includes Tasmanian wine, cider and beers while bar nibbles skew towards Japan and Korea.
This Italian bar and restaurant laps up the lagoon views at the upmarket Darwin Waterfront development. Grab a wicker chair on the terrace and get stuck into a tropical cocktail (the Mai Tai is a blast from the past) or Italian beer. Go to illidodarwin.com.au
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