Level 2, 383 Bourke Street, Taylor Square (02) 9331 3100 middlebar.sydney
This funky small bar in Darlinghurst is perfect for a first date: the balcony overlooks Taylor Square (so you’ll have lots of colourful wildlife to giggle about if the conversation runs dry) and it’s dark enough that you can easily escape if your Tinder date turns out to be shit. Middlebar’s drinks menu has been inspired by Old Havana in Cuba, with gin not rum being the focus. The bar snacks come courtesy of Johnny Wong’s Dumpling Bar, which operates on the level below. After my Tin-date and I staked out a table for two, she started with a Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron ($18): a punchy mix of Mount Gay rum, kiwifruit, ginger and triple sec, while I enjoyed Winter ($9), a refreshing blend of Tanqueray gin and pressed Packham pear juice. We avoided awkward conversation and instead bonded over our mutual love of Johnny Wong’s Roast Duck Pancakes ($15/3) and BBQ Pork Buns ($9.50/3).