New York bar Employees Only opens Sydney outpost

Employees Only Sydney.

New York speakeasy, Employees Only, has crossed the Pacific and launched its hotly anticipated Sydney bar on Saturday.

A mainstay of many ‘world’s best bar’ lists, Employees Only was originally founded as a watering hole for hospitality professionals with a focus on finely crafted cocktails and bites.

The Sydney iteration will stay true to this ethos with the Barrack Street venue staying open until until 3am, Monday to Saturday, and midnight on Sunday.

Similarly, the fitout designed by interior designer Tim Leveson (The Sandwich Shop, The Collector Store, Pane e Cipolla), nods back to the New York original while celebrating a space that is Sydney and stand alone. 

Located in the basement of a heritage-listed building, Employees Only Sydney includes an antique, industrial chandelier, floor-to-ceiling, hand-painted murals, and a curved, brass bar-top. Its dining room also features dark wood, brass finishes and dark green, velvet wrap-around banquette seating, and a private function room. 

Following in the New York bar's tradition, Employees Only Sydney will offer an apprenticeship program, under the guidance of principle bartender and 12-year, Employees Only veteran, Robert Krueger, and head bartender, Dula Lorenzohewa.

Employees Only Sydney's Robert Krueger and Dushan Zarić.

Employees Only's cocktail menu features a mix of signature beverages and new creations, including the ‘Manhattan Cocktail’ with Knob Creek rye, Italian vermouth, Grand Marnier and Angostura bitters; the ‘Amelia’ with Wyborowa vodka, St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon and pureed blackberries; and ‘The Down Payment’, Barsol pisco with avocado, fresh lime, Strega, Suze and Aqua Faba.

“The cocktails are a great mixture of diligence and fun," says Krueger.

"We want it to be the kind of place that experts in the field want to hang out at and invite their friends to join them.”

And overseeing the food are head chefs, Aurelien Girault and Leo Garnier, who together have created a menu fusing the venue's New York-style bistro flavour with French flair. Indeed, split into a dinner menu, served from 5pm-11pm, and an all-night bar menu, from 5pm-3am, Employees Only will offer a range of share plates and meals.

Dishes include freshly shucked oysters with Employees Only Bloody Mary mix and mignonette: charcuterie platters served with bread, crostini and house pickles; risotto nero with charred Hawkesbury calamari and lemon pangratatto; and Berkshire pork cottaletta with Tuscan cabbage slaw.

Employees Only Sydney will also upkeep the New York bar's long-standing tradition of extending the staff meal to patrons.  

From cacio e pepe with grilled sardines to Florecian gnocchi with gorgonzola, the staff meal will change daily and be offered at a reasonable price.

Likewise, the Sydney bar will maintain the operation's soup tradition; when 3am rolls around and the venue is closing, guests can expect to be served a bowl of chicken soup, made from a 15-year-old family recipe.

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