Minister for Racing Paul Toole has announced the government will allow small bars in the CBD and Kings Cross to serve spirits without mixers after midnight from Sunday 1 October.

Venues will also be able to sell cocktails not listed on the menu after midnight.

“Bartenders are rightly proud of their trade, and by removing this restriction, we are encouraging Sydney’s small bars to innovate and flourish,” says Toole.

“Small bars are adding to diversity of Sydney’s nightlife, allowing patrons to relax and socialise in an intimate and sophisticated setting.”

The changes follow the statewide increase in the small bar patron limit from 60 to 100 and extended trading for small bars in the CBD and Kings Cross from midnight to 2am.

Other changes to liquor regulation beginning 1 October include:

  • Implementation of the new Three Strikes disciplinary scheme whereby strikes are attached to licensees rather than to the premises.
  • An extension of the liquor licence freeze in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross until June 2018, but giving venues greater flexibility to refurbish their premises.
  • Changes to improve the effectiveness of the Minor Sanctions Scheme targeting venues that serve minors, and the annual liquor licence fee system.

“We’ve been seeing cultural change in the way Australians consume alcohol for some time now. A rising premiumisation trend and consumers choosing to drink better rather than more has seen them embrace cocktail culture,” says David Smith, managing director of Diageo Australia and chair of Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia.

Martin O’Sullivan, chair of the Small Bars Association and owner of Grasshopper Bar agrees.

“This is an important step and we welcome the NSW Government’s announcement,” he says. “It never made sense in a global city like this to explain to a customer they could only have a nip of whisky past midnight if I mixed it with coke. Small bars specialise in premium spirits, so these changes will help our industry grow and contribute to a vibrant but safe night-time economy.”


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