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Melbourne best be prepared to hand over the title of Australia’s small bar capital. But will the new licensing laws scupper the progress?

Story: James Dampney

For decades, Sydney’s Central Business District was a place frequented predominantly by busy, suited men armed with their briefcases and wide-eyed tourists trying to find their way to the harbour.
In terms of hospitality offerings there were slim pickings to say the least, with the odd flash-in-the-pan nightclub and fine dining restaurant sprinkled among the old-school pubs.
The change in liquor licensing laws back in 2007 sparked a welcome change, with venues such as Grandma’s, Grasshopper and the Baxter Inn adding some intrigue and lustre to the often-dreary skyscrapers and bus stations.
But the level of creativity, versatility and flat-out bartending skills has reached new levels over the past 12 months.

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