Thanks to former NSW premier Mike "the fun killer" Baird's continuing work on Barry O'Farrell's lockout laws, the Sydney bar scene has probably never been more boring.
It's nobody's fault (apart from Farrell and Baird), and the bars that have managed to stay open are as fun-loving and fun-giving as they can be, under the circumstances.
But the lockout laws and the subsequent hold-up in releasing new licences for small bars have meant we've had a pretty dry couple of years when it comes to new openings.
It's not all bad, we've all just had to learn to drink differently when we're out and throw better parties when we're at home after curfew.
We're less likely to bar hop (who knows which skittish bartender will refuse us service after a few spritzes, fearful the licensing rozzers will come by and shut them down?) and more likely to want an all-in-one experience.
The world is your lush warmed oyster with caramelised milk and scampi roe at Bentley Restaurant and Bar.
A place we can go for a very nice sandwich, a perfect icy manhattan and a bottle of Bandol.
Very happily, there are bars that continue to bring the noise and hand out the drinks. Here are 20 of my favourites.
Brose is the ultimate all-rounder. While the big sell here is the wine list and excellent food, there's a strong cocktail list here that often gets overlooked. Give it up for the Ferrari – equal parts Campari and Fernet Branca stirred over ice, strained, served.
231A Victoria Street, Darlinghurst 0450 307 117
The Baxter Inn
It's the whisky bar that puts all other whisky bars to shame – in Australia, and beyond. And that's not just for the selection of brown spirits, either. It's also the service – each bartender is equal parts high-end cocktail maker, beer slinger, wine pourer and party starter. Long may they reign.
152–156 Clarence Street, Sydney 02 9221 5580
If eating in the restaurant proper (or even the cured and cultured bar) is beyond your scope, take a turn around the bar, where killer views, batched cocktails, the restaurant's full wine list and a Peter Gilmore sausage roll are at your disposal.
Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney 02 9240 8000
When it comes to precision cocktail-making, few places stack up to this tiny CBD bar. Seasonal fruit sourced each morning from the market and an exacting attitude towards well-celebrated and long-forgotten cocktails are the strengths here. Get in early, for a chance of a seat.
Level 1, 10–14 Bulletin Place, Sydney
This is one of the most idiosyncratic cocktail bars in Sydney right now, and it's right under Danielle Alvarez's fine diner, Fred's. The list of nettle-and herb infusions also incorporates the likes of crushed oyster shell. For our dime, though, order a round of beers and listen to some Bird.
Basement, 380 Oxford Street, Paddington 02 9240 3000
All hail the bar that invented the "martinny", sure, but there's more to this former Good Food Guide Bar of the Year than meets the eye. Bartender Michael Nicolian can make you just about anything fit to go in a Boston glass, while a world of cured meats, cheeses and probably the city's most exciting sandwich menu are also at your disposal.
210 Australia Street, Newtown 02 8624 3131
The Dolphin Wine Bar
A wine bar that knows how to throw a very good party. There's depth and breadth here, and it's well worth delving deep into their back-catalogue of interesting things by the glass. The menu walks to the beat of its own drum. Pig's head sambo? The comforting pasta e fagioli? Make it both.
412 Crown Street, Surry Hills 02 9331 4800
Earl's Juke Joint
Fresh fun and tiki good times are on offer at this cocktail bar set inside an old Russian butchery. But there's more. It's every classic cocktail under the sun chased with a tiny beer and all the swampy bayou beats you can handle, with a side of Wu Tang.
407 King Street, Newtown
Want to truly have a Bondi afternoon? Take a sauna followed by a swim in the natural pool below then wander upstairs into the bar for a crazily cheesy Harry's Bar-inspired sandwich and a clutch of Aperol spritzes. Sunglasses indoors optional, but also very fitting.
1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach 02 9365 9000
Welcome to the Lansdowne, luxe and redux. Upstairs, you'll find the band room supported by a little bar and a large outdoor lounging area. Downstairs, the larger service bar is where you'll get a deep-dish pizza. Will it be a straight-up LP's Quality Meats pepperoni or a Mary's pizza, covered in meatballs made from Mary's burger patties?
2–6 City Road, Chippendale
Love, Tilly Devine
One of Sydney's favourite wine bars, run by one of Sydney's favourite sommeliers, Gabrielle Webster. Come for a snack, stay for five and make it dinner or just swing by for a glass of wine. It's one of the most comfortable bars in which to while away an evening.
91 Crown Lane, Darlinghurst 02 9326 9297
It might have started out as a pizzeria on the old Pizza Mario site, but this little site has gone above and beyond, and now plays host to some of the city's better cocktails. Rock in for a bicicletta and wobble out.
417–421 Bourke Street, Surry Hills 02 9358 3560
It's a wine bar, it's a restaurant, it's a meeting place and touchpoint for wine fans and producers alike. Sit up at the bar for folds of pastrami on crispbread, juicy lamb ribs and tiny local scampi served in their shell and let owner-sommelier Nick Hildebrandt look after the wine.
71A Macleay Street, Potts Point 02 9360 4410
Short for Pop Soda, it's a working soda factory and cocktail bar in the city with strong drinks service and slick interiors. Cocktails here steer light and perfumed so it makes for a perfect pre-dinner destination.
Shop 2, 40 King Street, Sydney
The heart of the city hides this pearler of a bar where parties are started and very rarely stop. The pitch here originally was cognac cocktails, but the scope has broadened over the years to whatever the ex-Swillhouse team feels like making you.
199 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Here's a bar and restaurant that knows what it means to pull out all the stops. Equally, they also know how to run on cruise control. Will it be a round of rillettes and a pastis fizz that may or may not lead to a long dinner, or a drive-by martini? Either way, you're in safe hands.
Basement,15 Bligh Street, Sydney 02 9232 0881
Shady Pines Saloon
The original, and still the best when it comes to honky-tonk good times surrounded by a world-class selection of taxidermy. The ultimate high/low mix means you might come for a tinny but you'll stay for an Old Pal.
Shop 4, 256 Crown Street, Darlinghurst 0405 624 944
This Must Be The Place
It's a cocktail bar as spare in look and feel as you're likely to find, but with an underbelly of pure, unadulterated skill behind the bar. Yes, the pitch is light and spritz and savour but they're just as likely to fix you up with a perfect sazerac if you ask nicely.
239 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst 02 9331 8063
More fun than you can squeeze out of a bucket of limes, with a side order of agave and complimentary spicy popcorn. Come here for a perfect margarita, good times and a very bad headache the next morning, in the best possible way.
4-14 Foster Street, Surry Hills
Hooray for the folks from Porteno, who have bought this wine bar and shop from the 121BC peeps. Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate are taking the classic wine bar approach – rich, highly seasoned snacks that make you want to order more to drink. On that, you'll see a mix of natural, wild, classical wines that traverse the globe.
Shop 4, 50 Holt Street, Surry Hills 02 8399 1440
The Good Food Guide goes national this year with hats awarded across Australia. The Good Food Guide 2018 will be launched in October with our presenting partners Citi and Vittoria and will be on sale in newsagents and bookstores.