Enjoy a taste of the Shoalhaven and grab a drink at one of our cool, small bars

We have plenty scattered across the region and these boutique beverage houses just keep popping up. Whether you want to catch a sundowner on a lazy afternoon, make the most of happy hour or relax with some live music, we’ve got you covered with a list of our favourite drinking holes in the Shoalhaven. There’s something about chilled, small bars in chilled, small towns that just works - so move over Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, we’re giving you a run for your money.

cocktails at Wharf Rd small bar in Nowra

1. Wharf Rd, Nowra

A drinks list that’s to die for combined with an excellent bar menu makes Wharf Rd a great place to sink a few. Picturesquely positioned along the Shoalhaven River, there’s ample opportunity to sit back and unwind with a delicious bevvy while catching a spectacular South Coast sunset. Being so close to the water, we think that the Perfect Storm cocktail is very fitting and worth a try. It’s a refreshing take on the classic dark and stormy, made with Captain Morgans, Grand Marnier, ginger beer, orange and crystalised ginger. If you’re visiting in a group or planning to perch up for a little bit maybe grab a cocktail jug to share, the Wharf Rd Ice Tea is the ultimate taste of summer - all in one drink.

2. Bannisters Pavilion Rooftop Bar, Mollymook

A luxurious place to unwind and really take your holiday relaxation game up a notch. Bannisters Pavilion Rooftop Bar is all about glam, with sun beds and beach umbrellas scattered around the suspended pool. That's right, you can laze about with your preferred beverage and then take a dip - the bar is tucked away behind lush palm trees and will make you feel like you're on a chilled out island getaway. If you happen to be around on a Sunday, then we definitely recommend hitting up Bannisters for their Rooftop Sunday Sessions, with live music kicking off at 4:00pm - the perfect time to sit down and listen to some talented musicians while catching a glorious Mollymook sunset. The drinks list includes a decadent Death by Chocolate, a classic Caipirinha and some superb craft beers. All of this combined with a yummy food menu featuring delicious South Coast calamari, oysters, and crab tacos - what's not to love!

Cocktails at Bannisters Pavilion with beach umbrellas
The Quarters small bar in Huskisson

3. The Quarters, Huskisson

Warm and welcoming. Fresh and friendly. Coastal cool. What more do we need to say about The Quarters in Huskisson? The owners of this boutique drinking hole are all about great wine, real cocktails and cold beer. We can’t think of a much better combination! Pay a visit to this eatery, located inside a 100 year old coastal cottage just a stone’s throw from pristine Jervis Bay. There’s a wonderful cocktail list with modern drinks such as the Tanqueray Gin with chilli flakes, ginger beer and lime plus a huge wine collection featuring local Australian vineyards as well as producers from around the world.

4. Queen St Eatery, Berry

A small and intimate venue that oozes South Coast sophistication, Queen St Eatery is a little bit French and a little bit Aussie. The restaurant is a new addition to Berry’s bustling food and drink scene and does not disappoint. It’s open for breakfast and lunch as well, but we recommended heading here for a romantic dinner and pairing your meals with some delicious wines - there’s a wonderful selection to choose from. Make sure to book in advance though because they’re only open at night from Thursday-Sunday.

Queen St Eatery small bar in Berry
cocktails at Tallwood small bar in Mollymook

5. Tallwood, Mollymook

At Tallwood, it’s all about having a great time over a delicious meal and drinks. The ethos behind this Mollymook culinary institution is sharing, so it’s a great venue for groups to come and enjoy the gourmet delights of the South Coast. Alongside a highly acclaimed contemporary Australian menu, there’s a drinks list that’s equally as impressive. The seafood dishes go exquisitely with tequila and Campari-based Matador cocktail and the GV and lime is a modern gin cocktail with a spicy Asian twist. This small bar venue is just minutes away from beautiful Mollymook Beach and a great place to relax after an afternoon in the water.

6. Wild Ginger, Huskisson

This wine bar in the heart of Huskisson serves up some mean cocktails and a South East Asian storm. Wild Ginger is the place to go for a little bit of spice, with a menu that perfectly blends Asian flavours with beautiful South Coast seafood. Sip on a refreshing lychee caipiroska, which pairs brilliantly with a meal, or just have a cheeky drink. Alfresco happy hour is from 3-6pm where you can grab a $10 cocktail and try some delicious nibblies off the excellent bar menu. The snacks aren't just like any typical bar menu, though - Wild Ginger offers up inspiring Asian bites such as the pork belly betel leaf and the veal and chicken shallot mousse. So take a seat in the lovely outdoor space, we think it's a fantastic spot to have a couple of sundowners and enjoy the good life.

Wild Ginger small bar in Huskisson
Kanpai Japanese small bar in Huskisson

7. Kanpai, Huskisson

Did you know that Kanpai means cheers in Japanese? So there’s no better place to go and say bottoms up! The top picks to try off of Kanpai’s Kakutero (cocktails) list are the Salty Sumo - an uplifting espresso hit, or the charmingly named Lucy Lui, with Chambord and Bacardi featuring a dash of Japanese Yuzu syrup, lime and lemonade. While you’re here, have a little taste of some sake, a must try with some sushi or sashimi. If you're more of a beer drinker then try a taste of Japan and sample the refreshing Asahi on tap and pair this with a delicious snack of steamed chicken buns. There is also a fantastic outdoor area that boasts beautiful views of the bay, making Kanpai a superb spot to drink and dine out in the open.

8. Harvest Bar, Milton

An all-round venue that’s great for a girls night, hot date or family dinner, Harvest Bar in Milton serves up great vibes, awesome cocktails, craft beers and a tapas style menu that’s oh so moreish. The delicious fried arancini balls, ploughman's and cheese boards are all yummy sharing options. The cocktail list features all the classics including the Cosmopolitan, French Martini and Sangria, all beautifully crafted by the knowledgeable mixologists behind the bar. Party the night away with some bevvies and live music in this rustic and cool space and then spend the next morning wandering through the main strip of Milton. You might just need a strong coffee from one of our excellent local cafes to wake you up and kick that hangover!

cocktails at Harvest small bar in Milton
Bottle Rocket small bar in Nowra

9. Bottle Rocket, Nowra

Half cocktail bar and half cafe Bottle Rocket is one of Nowra’s most popular watering holes. Offering up a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a great venue for laidback catch ups with friends. There is an extensive selection of cocktails to tantalise your tastebuds here. The expert mixologists whip up masterpieces such as the Bahama Mama - a summery rum based drink with a lovely infusion of tropical flavours or the Old Fashioned, a classic favourite made with top shelf bourbon. There are almost 40 different cocktails on the menu as well as a yummy selection of wine, beer and marvelous mocktails for the designated drivers. The signature drink, naturally, is the Bottle Rocket - a perfect blend of vodka, chambord, midori, cranberry and pineapple juice. Yum!

10. Dog & Monocle, Nowra

If you fancy trying something a little bit different, head to the Dog & Monocle, a quirky and refreshing steampunk supper club in the heart of Nowra. This place is a wonderful throwback to the 1950s, with staff dressed in old school garb and a retro decor that creates a luxe and romantic ambience. Take a step back in time here and sample the craft beers, gins, whiskies and carefully crafted cocktails. Gin enthusiasts will absolutely love this place and we highly recommend the house's favourite cocktail, the Bee’s Knees. It's a delectable concoction of botanical Hendrick’s gin, honey syrup and lemon. We think it’s a great dinner date venue that will be sure to impress!

The Dog & Monocle small bar in Nowra
Couple with drinks and food at Cupitts Ulladulla

11. Cupitts Winery, Ulladulla

This family-run operation is a South Coast wine and beer institution and one of the best spots in the Shoalhaven for an afternoon filled with sundowners. At Cupitts, you can sit inside the restaurant with a drink and some food, perch on the deck with some beers or get cosy in the outdoor dining area - all of which overlooks the spectacular on-site vineyard and boast views of the surrounding escarpment. This is the place to go to taste some delicious local drops and perfect for wine lovers and craft beer enthusiasts. We highly recommend grabbing a tasting paddle of beers, all brewed in-house at Cupitts brewery, and pairing this with a decadent cheese board featuring delights direct from the property's very own fromagerie!

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