Time Out Sydney

Lock us in this little Italian wine bar and throw away the key, please!

When we were young we used to dream of being stuck inside a department store overnight, free to jump on the display beds, try on the furs and spritz all the perfumes. Now we’d prefer to be locked in 121 BC, a Surry Hills enoteca where we could go wild with biodynamic wines and tasty snacks with no supervision.

All we ever want to do is while away the hours with an orange wine from winemaker Damijan Podversic of Friuli in Northeastern Italy. The fruit perfume suggests a sweet treat, but the flavour spins on a dime to deliver an elegant clean finish. It’s a hairpin turn your palate will want to do again and again.

A round of freshly shucked oysters is a mere pit stop on your vinous voyage that picks back up with a glass of the fiano from Carbone, where they grow their vines in the rich, volcanic soils of Basilicata down around the ankle of Italy’s boot.

The problem with introducing anyone to this excellent wine enclave is that it increases the competition for the 24 seats around the big central table. It’s prime date territory. Perching alongside each other in the low light you can rub knees and whisper sweet nothings while your bartender takes you on a magical mystery tour of artisan, low-intervention and sustainably made Italian wines that will have you booking an international holiday after the first round. 121 BC is for lovers.

They pump out some impressive eats from a tiny kitchen here, and the menu changes with the season and the wine list. Start with soft ribbons of the daily cured meat followed by fresh ravioli, or maybe it’s gnocchi on your visit. There’s always a distant relation of bruschetta on the menu, or you can go big with dishes like skirt steak with borlotti beans or balsamic pork ribs.

If dinner is definitely part of the plan, it’s worth booking. This little bar sits just around the corner from its sister venue Vini, plus MoVida and Muum Maam, so people are always on the hunt for a free seat in this particularly delicious pocket of Surry Hills.

121 BC feels like a special occasion bar, but you’ll want it to be your regular. If you’re flying solo it’s even a brilliant place for some alone time with wine – and every visit is an education. When your only homework is grabbing a bottle for further research from the shop next door, you’ll never want to graduate.



Who won the Sydney bar awards?

Updated on 19 Jan 2016.

By Emily Lloyd-Tait   |   Photos by Anna Kucera

121 BC details

Shop 4
50 Holt St, Surry Hills 2010

Telephone 02 9699 1582

Nearby Stations: Central

Price per person including drinks Up to $50

Open Bar Tue-Sat 5pm-midnight; bottle shop Mon-Sat 3-9pm

121 BC website

121 BC map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby


When Movida first opened in 2012, it was one of the most exciting dining...

Muum Maam

This little pocket of Surry Hills has gone from rag-trade dive to mini...


69m - A whole foods café slated to open in the old Citizen Corner space on the...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby

Snog the Frog

76m - A stone's throw from Central Station, Snog the Frog is delightfully kitsch...

Gold's Gym

147m - Dating back to the very first Gold's Gym on muscle-totin' Venice Beach,...

High Heels of Sydney

165m - Kinky footwear for fetishists and fantasists as well as lingerie, naughty...

More venues nearby
Taste of Sydney

Taste of Sydney

Feast on four days of incredible food and wine at this annual food and drink festival in Centennial Park

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

Get the Time Out weekend planner. Straight to your inbox, every Thursday.
Read more