The 50 best drinks at Australian bars in 2023 are right here.
Australia's bartenders are better than ever.
If you ask us, our bars make some of the best drinks in the world, and the Boothby Drink of the Year Awards (now in its second year) represents our effort to shine a light on the drinks — and the bartenders behind them — that make the drinking in Australia as good as it is.
The drinks below are those drinks bartenders serve to their punters night in and night out — drinks that people (and our judges) love. They've been ranked by a panel of more than 100 industry judges — experienced bartenders, bar owners, and industry personalities — and the drinks here give us a little taste of how we drink at bars in 2023.
It's a very good place to drink at.
1. Bad Apple
by Samuel Thornhill
THE 2023 DRINK OF THE YEAR
This drink explores the delicious unconventional possibilities of fermentation. It's the work of Samuel Thornhill, at the innovative and flavour forward Melbourne bar, Byrdi. The bar is a champion of local, Victorian produce, and strives to find clever ways to create new flavours from those ingredients.
Ingredients: carbonated apple batch, chamomile apple soda, oligosporus fermented apple.
2. House Martini
by Rob Libecans
Caretaker's Cottage, Melbourne
A super-cold, always delicious Martini from one of Australia's best bars — and the 2023 Bartender of the Year, Rob Libecans.
Ingredients: house gin, house dry vermouth.
3. Blueberry Yoghurt Punch
by Andy Chu
One Or Two, Melbourne
Blueberry is the hero in this drink from the talented owner and bartender of One Or Two in Melbourne.
by Michael Chiem
A play on hot and cold temperatures, this is a drink that even has its own tee shirt — and was named the Drink of the Year in 2022.
Ingredients: Mr Black coffee liqueur, native wattleseed cola, coconut foam.
5. Sub Tropical Fuckstorm
by Luke Whearty
Perhaps the best named cocktail, ever? The innovative Melbourne temple to drinks, Byrdi, goes tropical.
Ingredients: bunya nut orgeat, clarified banana, dark rum, light rum, blood lime, pineapple, passionfruit, distilled marigold, panella sugar.
6. HSL Special
by Hayden Lambert
Above Board, Melbourne
Inspired by the Bramble, this drink is named for its creator, Hayden Lambert, and landed at number 2 on the list in 2022.
Ingredients: Amaro Montenegro, creme de mure, lime juice, sugar syrup, absinthe.
7. Icebergs Sgroppino
by Matty Opai
Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Bondi
Served with tableside theatre in one of the nation's most iconic settings by one of the city's most loved bartenders.
Ingredients: Patrón El Cielo tequila, fresh lime, prosecco, lemon sorbet, lime zest.
8. Mango Weis Bar
by Michael Chiem
PS40's very drinkable summer variation on the Pina Colada celebrates the mango.
Ingredients: Archie Rose vodka, mango puree, Coco Lopez, lime, Murray River flaked salt, lime zest.
9. Two In The Pink
by Alicia Clarke
A vegan Milk Punch that's all about the strawberry and rhubarb at the retro-inspired bar that makes modern, delicious drinks.
Ingredients: rhubarb-infused vodka, strawberry & vanilla syrup, Select Aperitivo, coconut kefir.
by Jack Connor
Rosella's, Gold Coast
The lollies may be discontinued, but they've been given a delicious new life by Jack Connor — complete with custom made wrappers.
Ingredients: Rosella's Blend Bundaberg Rum, Brookie's Barrel Aged Mac, mushroom garum caramel, Pennyweight Oloroso Sherry, wattleseed butter.
2023 BARTENDER OF THE YEAR
The Top 50 Drinks of the Year represent the work of Australia’s best bartenders, people working night in and night out not just to provide great tasting drinks to the public, but to host them, look after them, and create an experience they’ll never forget.
We asked each of the bartenders on this year’s list to vote for the bartender among them who they thought was the best of them. Their answer? Rob Libecans, the humble, hospitable, and generous bartender and owner of Caretaker’s Cottage in Melbourne.
11. Pitaya OK!
by Storm Evans with Ryan Bickley & Jeremy Blackmore
Cantina OK!, Sydney
A textural and refreshing sipper from the little mezcaleria doing big things.
Ingredients: tequila, dragonfruit & peppercon soda, coconut, chia, vanilla.
by Oliver Churcher
Double Deuce Lounge, Sydney
A clarified Milk Punch built on tequila and coffee by Oliver Churcher, the Discretionary landed at number 9 in 2022.
Ingredients: Anejo tequila, cold brew, maple, whey, salt.
13. Too Few Tattoos
by Kayla Saito
A modern riff on the classic Sherry Cobbler by Melbourne-based Kayla Saito.
Ingredients: Beechworth fino sherry, Melbourne sake, coal roasted melon syrup, melon liqueur, grappa, lemon juice.
14. Crimson Rune
by Jack Creighton
Death & Taxes, Brisbane
Strawberries and basil are given a boost with black garlic in this drink by former Death & Taxes bartender, Jack Creighton.
Ingredients: Tanqueray gin, Campari, Chamberyzette Aperitif a la Fraise, strawberry, basil, vanilla, and black garlic cordial, lemon.
by Matt Whiley
A delicious way to use the byproduct of sake rice polishing, from the ever-resourceful, award-winning Matt Whiley.
Ingredients: roasted rice distillate, clarified banana juice, whisky, tonka bean soda.
16. Espresslo Martini
by Yao Wong
The Elysian Whisky Bar, Melbourne
There's a hit of nostalgia in this riff on the modern classic at one of the country's great whisky bars.
Ingredients: The Glenlivet Founders Reserve, Milo coffee batch.
by Michael Nicolian
Continental Deli, Sydney
The orginal canned cocktail par excellence, you can now get it dirty.
Ingredients: Beefeater Gin, Mancino Secco vermouth, Perello picante olive brine, purified water.
18. Playing In The Fig Leagues
by Josh Donachie
At Sydney bar Re, which focuses on creatively and deliciously repurposing ingredients, even chef Josh Donachie is turning out great drinks.
Ingredients: caramelised white chocolate rum, fig leaf distillate, sugar, Heiwa Yuzushu.
19. Half Moon
by Nick Corletto
Maybe Mae, Adelaide
A clean, floral, and uplifting Spritz made with Maybe Mae's signature attention to flavour and ingredients.
Ingredients: Hendricks gin, Tanica salted plum and ginger liqueur, verjuice, ginseng tea, white aspen oleo, water.
20. Hidden Piña Colada
by Andres Walters
Old Mate's Place, Sydney
An interactive and playful riff on the classic rum, pineapple, and coconut preparation.
Ingredients: rum, roasted pinepaple, coconut water.
by Lachlan Boyle
Black Pearl, Melbourne
A drink which draws inspiration from both the Corpse Reviver and the London Calling, made at one of Australia's great bars.
Ingredients: Never Never Triple Juniper Gin, grapefruit juice, lemon, pineapple, Tio Pepe, Cocchi Americano, absinthe.
22. Mary Cockerill
by Liam Murphy
Frog's Hollow Saloon, Brisbane
A left of field riff on the Ramos Gin Fizz from Brisbane up and comer, Liam Murphy, at one of that city's very best bars.
Ingredients: saltbush Bombay Citron Presse gin, second citrus oleo, Fragelico, lemon curd, lemon, aquafaba, soda.
23. What's Up Doc?
by Thomas Opie
Eileen's Bar at Four Pillars Lab, Sydney
This is a drink employing carrot in delicious ways that only the creative bartender that is Thomas Opie would think of.
Ingredients: Four Pillars Spice Trade Gin, carrot 'lime', Szechuan Pepper/Dorrigo Pepper Coconut Milk, simple syrup, saline, smoked grapefruit oil.
24. Death Or Glory
by Dale Schoon
Earl's Juke Joint, Sydney
It's a London Calling made, if not better, then more smashable, thanks to the addition of rockmelon.
Ingredients: Tanqueray gin, fino sherry, citrus, rockmelon, orange bitters and grapefruit zest.
25. Honey Bee
by Shirley Yeung
Foxtrot Unicorn, Perth
A spiced riff on the classic cocktail, the Bees Knees, from the talented Shirley Yeung.
Ingredients: Old Young's butter gin, lemon juice, creamed spiced honey, egg white, saline.
26. Pandan Airways
by Sarah Mycock
Old Mate's Place, Sydney
The Pandan Airways is equal parts refreshing and moreish — one is often not enough. It's the second year the drink appears on the list.
Ingredients: Young coconut, pandan and strawberry gin, sugar, verjuice.
by Jacob Cohen
Savile Row, Brisbane
A refreshing and smashable sipper from Jacob Cohen in Brisbane, this drink forms part of the bar's impressive, textiles-inspired cocktail list.
Ingredients: coconut oil Tanqueray, Midori, verjus, lemon verbena, soda.
28. Primo Margarita
by Eduardo Conde
El Primo Sanchez, Sydney
This zestier style of Margarita comes from award-winning bartender and leader of El Primo Sanchez, Eduardo Conde.
Ingredients: Patrón Silver, mezcla naranja, agave, lime.
30. Soul Makossa
by Liv Kelly
Bar Rochford, Canberra
A disco drink for good times from the talented Liv Kelly in Canberra.
Ingredients: gin, mint syrup, lacto-fermented raspberry, lime, Rochford lemonade.
31. Jalapeño Gibson
by Jarryd Bryant
A savoury and flavoursome take on the Gibson Martini — but without the chilli heat of the jalapeño — from the award-winning Melbourne restaurant's bar.
Ingredients: Never Never Oyster Shell Gin, Jalapeño distillate, pickled onion, dry vermouth, Green Chartreuse.
by Ellery Low
This rich and silky Old Fashioned variation from the talented Ellery Low shows why Maker was named Queensland's best cocktail bar earlier this year.
Ingredients: coconut oil rye whiskey, calvados, cold brew coffee, agave syrup.
by Max Giudice
Republic of Fremantle, Fremantle
A combination of two favourites — the Sgroppino and the Pina Colada — by the award-winning Max Giudice.
Ingredients: citrus gin, pineapple, lime, saline, absinthe, coconut sorbet, prosecco.
34. Yakult Milk Punch
by Rusty Russell
Bar Besuto, Sydney
A playful and exuberant drink built upon Japanese whisky.
Ingredients: Toki whisky, Suze, Campari, Maidenii Rosso, Cinzano, orange juice, Yakult.
35. Hay Fever
by George Curtis
Before + After, Brisbane
This take on the classic whisky cocktail, the Cameron's Kick, gets an amaro twist from the owner and bartender behind Before + After.
Ingredients: Basil Hayden bourbon, Amaro Nonino, lemon, peateed rice orgeat, bee pollen.
36. Kiwi Slipper
by Loic Mouchelin
2023 PEOPLE'S DRINK OF THE YEAR
The under-apreciated Japanese Slipper gets an update from the talented French export, Loic Mouchelin. The drink has also taken out this year's popular vote, as determined by the wider drinking public; there's clearly a lot of community support behind this winning Toowoomba bar.
Ingredients: dry curacao, Green Chartreuse, Midori, fino sherry, kiwi fruit.
39. Sunset Americano
by Patrick Nunes, with Alex Gondzioulis and Ben Ingall
A long, spritzy Americano riff built for winter months.
Ingredients: Select Aperitivo, raspberry-infused Campari, Saison house vermouth, orange soda.
40. Leave No Trace
by Sarah Proietti
Maybe Sammy, Sydney
It's a drink long on taste, and inspired by Sarah Proietti's life changing experience at Burning Man.
Ingredients: distllied chocolate & nutmeg Jack Daniels Bonded, Italicus, Talisker 10 Year Old, Supasawa, lemongrass & rockmelon soda.
by Nat Yao
Bar Margaux, Melbourne
This classically constructed cocktail takes inspiration from the Sazerac and comes from Nat Yao; it's her second year with a drink in the Top 50.
Ingredients: Angel's Envy bourbon, mezcal, Green Chartreuse, Peychaud's Bitters, Pernod Absinthe.
43. Propeller Head
by Nick Corletto
Maybe Mae, Adelaide
A zippy riff on the modern classic, the Paper Plane, from one of our favourite bartenders, Nick Corletto.
Ingredients: Buffalo Trace bourbon, Ragazzi Succo Amaro, Okar tropic Mistelle, acid-modified red grapefruit juice.
44. Belle du Jour
by Michael Keogh
La Louisiane, Adelaide
It's a vodka raspberry, but updated and zippy and thoroughly delicious.
Ingredients: Haku vodka, raspberry lacto, rhubarb verjuice, lemon oleo, soda.
45. Tops N Tails
by Judith Zhu
Door Knock, Sydney
A smart and delicious way to make use of otherwise wasted wine by Judith Zhu.
Ingredients: rum, reclaimed homemade waste wine vermouth, homemade waste falernum, orange/chocolate/saline solution.
46. Midnight Crusade
by Cameron Abercrombie
High Jinks, Canberra
A refreshing bee pollen rum and amaro Sour from Canberra's Cameron Abercrombie.
Ingredients: bee pollen infused Bacardi Ocho, Amaro Montenegro, poached pear syrup, lime, Angostura aromatic bitters, basil oil.
47. Sour Negroni
by Jordan Blackman
Odd Culture Fitzroy, Melbourne
This drink by Jordan Blackman is a Negroni take built on a sour kriek vermouth.
Ingredients: London dry gin, kriek vermouth, Campari, Aperol.
by Jessica Clayfield
Black Kite Commune, Melbourne
It tastes like raspberry, but no raspberries were harmed in the making of this drink.
Ingredients: pisco, three Foxes Arvo aperitif, gooseberry syrup, white floral tea verjuice, lime, cranberry.
49. Spirit Of The Barrel
by Declan Coffey
Hanky Panky Lounge, Darwin
The Old Fashioned meets tropical fruits thanks to Declan Coffey — this drink also saw him win the title of NT Bartender of the Year.
Ingredients: coconut oil-infused whisky, creme de banane, fino sherry, lemon, roasted pineapple.
50. So Matcha Velvet
by Reuben Beasley-Palmer
Botswana Butchery, Melbourne
An after-dinner drink inspired by Reuben Beasley-Palmer's time living in Japan.
Ingredients: housemade matcha liqueur, white cacao liqueur, cream, roasted sesame oil, pandan meringue.