Looking for apps to help you enjoy Sydney’s maturing nightlife? Thankfully, as Sydney’s bar scene evolves so has the app market surrounding it. Here are some of our favourite apps, from deal-locators to alcohol-related news, for finding your way around Sydney’s social scene (and a little of other cities, too).
The Happiest Hour: Free (iOS & Android)
The Happiest Hour is a fantastic and simple app. It uses your location to show off happy hours and meal-deals in pubs and bars in your vicinity. This is a great way to grab a cheap drink or two without having to resort to skeezy dives or RSL clubs.
It’s impressively comprehensive, you may even discover some awesome bars that you didn’t even know exist.
Sydney Bars: $1.99 (iOS)
Sydney Bars is a fantastic app and is well worth the $2 you spend on it. It has a huge list of bars all across Sydney. You can search either by region, of which there are six, or by the 25 bars closest to you. The top 25 bars are also listed, many of which are less well-known than you might expect.
Browsing through the list couldn’t be easier. Each establishment has a small line of eight symbols that are either highlighted or greyed-out. This tells you at a glance if it is a general bar, cocktail lounge, sports bar, wine bar, ‘various’ bar, what you can expect to pay, if it has food, an out-door area, a DJ, live music and even a nice view to stare at while you drink. If you ever get confused just tap the information icon in the top right and a quick guide slides in from the side. Easy.
Once you open up a venue you’re given a very short synopsis of the general theme and options to find it on Google Maps (yes, it defaults to Google Maps), call the bar, go to the web page, email (not all venues have email) and view the opening hours.
We suggest searching by closest 25 if you’re after a bar in the inner city. Much of what you may expect to fall under the “City” region is actually “East” or “Inner West”, which to be fair is technically correct, if a little unintuitive.
Sydney Bars absolutely nails it in terms of design, UI and content. This app is more than worth the $2 you spend. Our only problem with it is that it isn’t also available on Android and, by the looks of their website, won't be any time soon.
Check out Sydney Bars on the App Store
TimeOut Sydney: Free (iOS, Web)
TimeOut isn’t all public events, art shows and food festivals; you can get some pretty good info through its Food & Drink section. As with other services like this, you run the risk of ignoring emails or alerts and eventually deleting it out of frustration, but if you take the time to read the occasional message sent your way you can get some pretty awesome stuff like free entry, free cocktails and free food at new or established bars. It’s also handy for checking out bar gigs and special events.
Unfortunately there's no app version of TimeOut for Android, but you can still check out the website and even subscribe to the Food & Drink email list.
Check out TimeOut Sydney on the App Store
Google Maps: Free (iOS & Android)
Believe it or not, Google Maps is super handy for finding the odd watering hole, it’s even a built-in feature. Tap on the empty search bar and scroll down to “Explore”. Select your criteria (it’s labelled differently on different devices but it’s pretty intuitive) and you’ll be given a list of the closest bars or pubs along with how far away they are from your location and their star ratings.
It’s not the best way to find super-new small bars, but anything over a year old is usually included. You can also use it to find coffee houses, restaurants and a bunch of other stuff.
Get Google Maps from the App Store (Android users should have it by default)
Bonus option: The Shout (Web)
Ok, so this one technically isn’t an app; it’s a web magazine, but it’s so good we had to include it. Besides, you can access it through your phone’s browser so we figured it’s ok.
The Shout is an Australia-wide online magazine that reports on booze-related news. Anything from the buying and selling of Tasmanian distilleries to new small bars opening up in your area to property development proposals to tasting events is all on this website. You can even check out job listings if you’re so inclined.
Best of all there’s a whole section devoted to Small Bar News, but there’s also Beer & Cider, Spirit, Wine, and Pub news. If you’re a career bartender and interested in the industry then check out the Bartender’s Corner. Basically The Shout is everything you’d want in alcohol news organised in to neat, separate sections.