The most exciting new bars to visit in March 2023

From a clandestine bar within a bar in Mexico City to a colourful Sydney venue inspired by ‘the long-lost cousin who always leads you astray’

Words by Lucy Shaw

el primo sanchez bar in sydney

While the weather outside may still be frightful, spring is upon us, and with it the promise of lighter days and more chances to meet and mingle. As the mercury rises, this enticing roll call of new bars is the motivation we needed to emerge from hibernation.

What’s interesting about the global bar scene right now is the diversity of venues popping up. While there are certain trends in play – from five star dive bars to a return to classic cocktails made well in elegant surroundings – the beauty of the bar movement at the moment is that venues aren’t afraid to be bold, daring and different rather than lazy cookie-cutter copies of what’s come before.

In the below list you’ll find a Mexican-inspired hangout in Sydney’s Paddington suburb complete with a karaoke room and disco ball-filled dance floor; a secret bar within a bar at one of Mexico City’s most compelling cocktail spots; and a dinky downstairs bar inside London’s hottest omakase restaurant, Mayha.

Read on for our selection of the hottest new bars to visit this month.

The best new bars to visit in March 2023

Jac's on Bond. Photo: Max Flatow

Jac’s on Bond

New York, US

If you’re impatiently awaiting the release of season four of Succession (and who isn’t?) then you may be interested to know that Cousin Greg from the show – actor Nicholas Braun – has partnered with the team at Authentic Hospitality to open Jac’s On Bond in a townhouse in New York’s trendy NoHo neighbourhood. This isn’t the 6ft7 star’s first foray on the New York nightlife scene – he was also an investor in Ray’s bar in Lower Manhattan. Formerly The Smile café, Jac’s on Bond is a love letter to ‘90s minimalism with a retro food menu that includes prawn cocktail and a dozen oysters. On the drinks front, we like the sound of the Eastern Medicine, featuring sesame-infused whisky, ginger, poppy seed honey and yuzu. The savoury Caprese Martini, meanwhile, is made with tomato and basil-infused Grey Goose.

The Bar Downstairs at Mayha

London, UK

If small but perfectly formed drinking dens are your jam then be sure to head to The Bar Downstairs at exciting new London omakase restaurant Mayha. Offering a more relaxed night out than the main event upstairs, the venue’s dimly-lit, six-cover bar has just launched a five-course omakase and cocktail pairing experience devised by drinks whiz Josef Antoun, which promises to take your tastebuds on a journey through Japan. Among the pairings on the debut menu is scallop crudo with caviar and almond foam and a refreshing Goose Spritz, made with Champagne, elderflower and gooseberries. You can also swing by the bar for a pre- or post-dinner drink or three. Outside of the cocktail pairings you can expect expertly made sips crafted from Japanese whiskies alongside an impressive selection of sake and umeshu – moreish Japanese plum liqueur.

El Primo Sanchez

Sydney, Australia

This eye-poppingly bright and slightly bonkers new addition to Paddington – an upscale Eastern suburb of Sydney – is named in honour of ‘the long-lost cousin who always leads you astray’, according to its owners, who are the brains behind Dean & Nancy on 22 and the award-winning Maybe Sammy. Decked out in mustard yellow and Yvez Klein blue, the interiors tip their hat to 1940s Mexico City. Boasting a DJ booth, karaoke room and a dance floor filled with disco balls, El Primo Sanchez has ‘party’ written all over it. As you’d expect, the bar goes big on Tequila and mezcal via cocktails like the Santa Rosa, made with Patrón silver, plum vermouth, agave and lime. The venue has an impressive selection of old and rare Tequilas, which you can buy by the ‘nip’. Food-wise, don’t miss the Al Pastor tacos, rammed with achiote-marinated pork belly and pineapple.

Handshake Speakeasy’s secret bar

Mexico City, Mexico

Clandestine haunt Handshake Speakeasy in Mexico City has gone all meta on us, opening a secret bar within a bar inside the NH Reforma where it resides, to take you tumbling even further down the rabbit hole. If you’re clever enough to find it then you’ll be treated to a 60-cover bar that’s double the size of the original, with a new menu featuring a selection of cocktails on tap. We hear whisperings of there being a secret laboratory hidden inside the bar – kudos to anyone savvy enough to sniff it out. Like the original, which is housed behind an unassuming black door in Mexico City’s Juarez district, the venue takes inspiration from the sultry splendour of the 1920s, and is headed up by renowned Dutch bartender Eric Van Beek, who shines a light on classic cocktails and hard‐to‐source vintage spirits. We hope he’ll be serving his brown butter and mushroom Old Fashioneds at the new incarnation.

Hotel Dames de Arts Rooftop Bar

Paris, France

From the dove-white domes of the Sacre Coeur to the steely grandeur of the Eiffel Tower, Paris boasts an embarrassment of architectural riches, and the best way to drink in its stunning skyline is at a chic rooftop bar. The latest addition to the City of Lights’ al fresco cocktail line-up is found at the newly opened Dame des Arts hotel on Paris’s Left Bank, where on a clear day you can see the whole of the city stretched out beneath you. Designed by Raphael Navot, the décor explores the interplay between curved and straight lines, hard and soft textures, and glossy and matte surfaces. Matthieu Alfandari, former director of operations at the Experimental Group, consulted on the cocktail list, so you’re in safe hands. He’s paired his libations with a Mexican-inspired menu in a nod to the hotel’s location in the Latin Quarter.

Bar Bedford

New York, US

Brooklyn newcomer the Moxy Williamsburg hotel boasts four drinking and dining venues spearheaded by Gabe Orta and Elad Zvi of Bar Lab Hospitality, including Levantine restaurant Mesiba, rooftop bar LilliStar – where you can gawp at the Manhattan skyline – and all-day café Bar Bedford. The cocktail spot in the hotel’s lobby pays homage to New York’s old automats – where patrons would pick up their food from a wall of glass-fronted cubbies – via rotating, blackened-metal motorised shelves filled with 1,500 libations from around the world. The shelves move up and down like dumbwaiters, giving bartenders access to hard-to-reach bottles while adding a dash of theatre to proceedings. Cocktails are classic in nature, with Manhattans, Sazeracs and Sours making up the menu, while on the wine front you’ll find an orange drop from Georgia and Super-Tuscan Querciabella in the mix.

Trullo Wine Bar

London, UK

Celebrated Italian neighbourhood restaurant Trullo in Islington has opened a wine bar inside its former bottle shop and takeaway spot on St Paul’s Road. The dinky drinking spot can seat a dozen thirsty souls, who can pull up a stool at the window, prop up the counter or fight over the bar’s solitary table. The wine list will be switched up regularly to keep things fresh, and the by-the-glass offerings will be chalked up on a blackboard. Prices are very reasonable, with glasses starting at £6 for a 2021 Rioja, flutes of Cremant d’Alsace costing a tenner and bottles beginning at £30. If you’re peckish, you can nibble on pig’s ear fritti with anchovy, pillowy focaacaia and chicken liver crostini. There’s even a small selection of aperitivo cocktails on offer for those dreaming of sunny Italian shores. Make ours a Sbagliato…