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Bar of the Month - Love, Tilly Devine

We celebrate one of the best wine bars in the city with our Bar of the Month!

The Ramblin Rascal Tavern hands the baton over as the Sydney Bar School Bar of the Month to a classy little wine bar called Love, Tilly Devine in Darlinghurst.

Love, Tilly Devine has a sense of history and the clue for that is in the name. Tilly Devine was an underworld legend of Sydney’s Inner East. If you think Kings Cross and the East is dangerous today ‘then you’d have hated it in 1930s.

Drugs and prostitution were rife (even more so than today) and Tilly Devine, alongside and her husband Jim, were involved in anything they could get there hands on. The then government made it illegal for men to run brothels so Tilly gamely stepped up to front the family trade while Jim focused more on the drugs side of thing, as you do.

The Devine’s spread a chain of brothels across Sydney and the money started piling up. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, it rarely is when drugs are involved, and the law eventually caught up with Tilly as she was arrested for tax evasion and died poor and obscure.

Now that we’ve got the history out of the way, it’s time to talk about the present! Love, Tilly Devine is tucked away down Crown Lane, off Crown Street near the corner of William Street, and just stepping into the lane gives you a sense of the past.

When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by some of the friendliest bar staff Sydney has to offer and they aren’t just pretty faces!

Wine bars are often a bit intimidating. You are given a menu like the Yellow Pages and asked to pick your poison. If you don't know that much about wine, don’t worry about it! The staff know their stuff and gave us a little taste of one of the by the glass varieties to help us along with our decision.

If you are a budding sommelier, then Tilly Devine has you covered too. The wine list is extensive and grouped into flavours rather than grape varieties. White wines are listed in sections like Fresh, Vital, Energetic’ and Challenging, Unusual, Idiosyncratic. Reds fall into Elegant, Energetic, Charming andIntense, Vigorous, Graceful. That might seem a little wine-snobby but it gives you a better sense of what to expect from your chosen bottle than a simple grape variety.

The wine list has been internationally celebrated by the World of Fine Wine - having been awarded a Jury Prize this year - calling Love, Tilly Devine “abenchmark modern wine bar with attitude,” so if you are serious about wine then Love, Tilly Devine is right up your alley.

For the connoisseur there are some seriously expensive and rare drops to whet the whistle while the wine new-comers can stick to a great by the glass selection or aim for a bottle with a more reasonable price-tag.

The bar also champions Riesling alongside other under-appreciated wines from around the world as the wine list is crafted to cater for all while showing how serious the ownership (sommelier Matt Swieboda formerly of Quay and chef Tim Weber ex-Sean’s Panaroma) take their wine.

Ever heard of Orange Wine? Neither had we until we pulled up a pew at Love, Tilly Devine. Orange wine is made with white wine grapes in a different way to traditional white wine and is apparently the perfect aperitif! Keep your eyes peeled for the handy explanation written in chalk as you walk in!

There is also a selection of other drinks available but if you’re heading to a wine bar, do yourself a favour and order wine!

The food on offer is a glorious selection of small plates and tapas that pairs amazingly well with the wine on offer. Fresh oysters ($3.50ea) and the slow roasted octopus ($15) are stand-outs but whatever you choose will be well prepared and feel free to ask the staff what works well with what if you are that way inclined.

Love, Tilly Devine takes a lot of the awkwardness out of the wine bar and with a capacity of 40 is perfect for impressing or a quiet drink and a bite to eat. Get there quick and tell them we sent you!


Got a suggestion for our Bar of the Month? Give us a shout on Facebook or in the comments below and we’ll gladly do the research! If you want to take a step into the hospitality industry, check out our RSA and hospitality courses and book today!

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