Recent years had seen Sydney gain on Melbourne's reputation as the premier city for nightlife, with inspired bars such as Baxter Inn on Clarence Street and Bulletin Place in Circular Quay continually drawing international acclaim.
But the lockout laws have undoubtedly slowed the harbour city's march. It's hard to be a credible destination for drinkers when your government won't trust you with a fine single malt after midnight.
Night owls fly south
Such restrictions continue to be vigorously protested by the Keep Sydney Open lobby. Meanwhile, there are reports that Melbourne has enjoyed an upswing in nightlife tourism, as Sydneysiders flee south for a night out unfettered.
New openings in Melbourne have included the CBD venue dubbed Australia's first 'mezcaleria', Bodega Underground, where agave-based spirits mezcal and tequila are king.
In Brunswick, Brewcult Bar is the smart new taproom that finally gives current Champion Gypsy Brewer, Brewcult, its own home.
"Here on Sydney Road, there's a lot of really good pubs serving good accessible craft beer. We're not here to convert people to craft beer, but if you're already drinking it, then we'll just take you a little step further, with a slightly bigger flavour and aroma experience," says Brewcult's Steve Henderson.
Keeping Sydney Open
Not to be completely outdone by Melbourne, Sydney is also enjoying some inspired new venues that make the best of the lockout situation.
These are bar slash restaurants, with a food offer carefully interwoven with some fantastic drinks.
At Banksii in the new Barangaroo precinct, vermouth is the cornerstone of the drinks list, matched to share plates that lean to lighter, fresher styles of food.
Creek & Cella, meanwhile, puts fine charcuterie and cheese with craft beer and natural wine in the forgotten Leichhardt precinct.
"It was clear there was community demand for new bar and dining experiences in Leichhardt," says Creek & Cella founder Aaron Edwards.
"We're responding with a venue that embraces its history, with emphasis on fine local produce and delicious drinks."
The state of bars
Elsewhere, the other capital cities continue to prove they are no slouches when it comes to getting a top quality bar experience.
And while the spectre of the impending lockout looms large in Brisbane, the recent opening of another inspired venue from the Lefty's team, Seymour's Cocktails and Oysters, will ensure 2017 gets off to the right start.
Check out the gallery above to see 15 of the hottest new bars to check out this summer.