The Wild Rover, Surry Hills

The Wild Rover may go down in the history of the Sydney small bar scene as taking the longest time to open, but after nine months, the baby is delivered… and how.

Enter through the inconspicuous green door and you’ll find a vibrant drinking den with exposed bricks, jungle animals on green wallpaper peering from behind the bar and Irish folk songs that give the new bar an inviting and classy Irish pub vibe.

The Wild Rover, Surry Hills
The Wild Rover, Surry Hills

The two-level venue has a capacity for 120 persons. Downstairs, cosy booths sit alongside small tables and chairs. The best seats in the house are along the copper top bar with handbag hooks and easy to hop on/off bar stools. Upstairs, you’ll find another bar with banquette seating and a space with its own vibe.

The Wild Rover, Surry Hills

Owners Warren Burns and James Bradey (also of Grandma’s Bar) with manager Kim McDiarmid have attracted a team of experienced bartenders to their latest venue with a focus on accessibility and good times.

The drinks menu is designed to take the guess work out of choosing a beverage. Feel like something light, medium or heavy? You’ll find them grouped under these headings.

The Wild Rover, Surry Hills
The Bar

The range of whisk(e)y leans towards Irish whiskey with some top shelf brands and expressions such as Bushmills 21 yo Madeira Finish and Connemara 12 yo. There’s also a sizeable collection of whiskies from Scotland, Australia, Japan and the USA.

Almost 40 wines feature on the list with craft beers on the old train destination board menus. On tap you’ll find Guinness, Vale Ale and cider served in silver tankards.


Cocktails also follow the three strength listings, with some very tempting Bloody Mary’s made with housemade tomato consommé with garlic and horseradish, each increasing in intensity.

The Wild Rover, Surry Hills
L-R: Weeski, Hell’s Kitchen Martini

Hell’s Kitchen Martini ($16) gives a nod to the former working class Manhattan neighbourhood that was once home to Irish mobsters.  Made of Bushmills Irish Whiskey with a touch of citrus, fresh peach and homemade Manhattan syrup, the cocktail has a dominant peach flavour at first which settles into more balanced flavours with an easy drinking style.

If you like to taste the base spirit, try the Weeski ($16), a playful interpretation of what whiskey would taste like if it were French. This is a superb drink, perfectly balanced and made with Irish whiskey, Lillet Blanc, orange liqueur with orange bitters.

The Wild Rover, Surry Hills
Old train destination board

If you’re feeling peckish, choose from pasties, homemade sausage rolls ($7) or freshly-shucked oysters ($18 for 6, $32 for 12) from a supplier who provides the best of what is available on the day.

The Wild Rover, Surry Hills
Gibbo on the Rocks with Pambula Oysters

The oysters are served in their own liquor and are a hit with Gibbo on the Rocks ($16), a sensational savoury cocktail made with Tanqueray Gin, Pedro Ximenez sherry and brine, served over hand-chipped ice with a pickle. The Gibbo delivers a good kick while retaining the flavour of the base spirit.

The Wild Rover, Surry Hills
Upstairs Bar

There’s much to like at The Wild Rover. From the warm welcome on arrival to the highly knowledgeable team of bartenders, the experience is one that will bring you back and tempt you on a Sunday afternoon with the range of Bloody Mary’s. The accessible bar is without pomp and invites you to linger over more drinks with fiends. And should you find yourself there at closing time, you’ll hear The Wild Rover by the Dubliners, an Irish song about a man who spent his money on whiskey and wine.

The Wild Rover, Surry Hills
Upstairs seating

The Wild Rover is finally here, bringing craic and good times to the Sydney bar scene.

The Wild Rover is featured in Sydney’s top whisky bars, Sydney’s Best Winter Bars.

The Wild Rover
75 Campbell Street
Surry Hills 2010
Monday to Saturday: 4pm to midnight
Sunday: 12 pm to 10 pm

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.