Simply put, the best kind of bar is a rooftop bar. Drinks with a view is what Instagram was made for (not pictures of brunch, which is a common misconception). For a city not particularly renowned for its skyscrapers, Melbourne still knows how to make the most of alcohol at an altitude.
Pockets of well-dressed, attractive people can be found at the top of discreet elevators and suspect flights of stairs. So rise above the burning concrete and stuffy interiors this summer and tone those thighs with some good old-fashioned stair climbing. Escape to the echelons of summer delight where a cool breeze and a chilled cocktail provide the ultimate refreshment high above the steamy streets below.
This will be Goldilocks first summer in Melbourne, and as such it should be given a warm welcome. The newcomer to Melbourne's skyline, Goldilocks has quickly risen to be the number one choice to spend a balmy night. Entering via the alcove of Noodle Kingdom, the elevator brings you up into a fantasy themed world abundant with rooftop pleasures. Goldilocks is the more discerning, more secluded and arguably superior neighbour to Curtain House's famed Rooftop Bar. Golidlocks is in top form, without the crowds to compete with. The table-serviced perch is only enhanced by an inspired cocktail menu, a rooftop garden and one of the best cheese platters to be found on a Melbourne roof. Try the Stallion's Head: Dalmore scotch whiskey, apricot brandy, amaretto, fresh lemon juice and Jerry Thomas bitters ($18). This is a CBD landmark in the making.
Level 4, 264 Swanston Street Melbourne, (03) 9654 7878, goldilocksbar.com.au
Don't be too alarmed by this new entry, Bomba is simply The Aylesbury rebranded. The excellent rooftop remains, while the restaurant now specialises in Spanish tapas. Bomba is a little secluded at the top of Lonsdale Street but it's absolutely worth the walk. With an exotic selection of beers, ciders, wine and vermouth, it's a smart choice for drinks amongst a crowd of attractive, well-dressed people. The clever design of the deck also closes in for winter, making it weather-proof all year round.
103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, (03) 9077 0451, bombabar.com.au
Arguably the best view in Melbourne's north, Naked in the Sky is unadulterated rooftop pleasure. Situated above the burning concrete of Brunswick Street, the view from Naked in the Sky encompasses the stepladder terraces of Fitzroy and the CBD in one direction, all the way across to Kew and Clifton Hill in the other. It's a sweeping panorama that affords the most refreshing breeze in Fitzroy. The bar is extensive, with an impressive vodka selection in particular, and food can be ordered from the adjacent restaurant. Naked is the perfect venue to let off steam amidst a crowd at the height of Fitzroy cool.
285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, (03) 9416 2238, nakedforsatan.com.au/naked-in-the-sky
The most genteel of the lot, Siglo has the tendency to take itself too seriously, but all is forgiven for the tranquility to be found on the leafy terrace. Perched above Spring Street, the view of Parliament House glittering as the sun sets is a glorious setting for some discerning bottles of wine. If you're lucky enough to acquire the wooden bench-shaped booths on the balcony, the view is uninterrupted and table service is on hand. Entry is to be found by the back steps of The European.
Level 2, 161 Spring Street, Melbourne, (03) 9654 6300, theeuropean.com.au
The centerpiece of Melbourne's alcohol stocked skyline, Rooftop Bar retains its position as the city's most popular — despite the seven flights of stairs needed to scale before you reach it. Open from 11am it is the ideal place to spend a lazy afternoon shaded by an umbrella and fanned by a sky-high breeze. In the evening, rooftop is the pinnacle of elevated recreation: drinks, dancing, views, burgers, deckchairs and cinema. Its popularity is not without merit. Its reputation, however, can often mean overcrowding and long lines for the bar. Booking a ticket for the season's Rooftop Cinema and having exclusive access after sundown is definitely the way to play it.
Level 7, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne, rooftopcinema.com.au
Easily the best-kept secret of rooftops, Wolf’s Lair is a Carlton oasis popular with students and connoisseurs alike. Nestled in behind Lygon and Elgin Streets, its rooftop is a tranquil cul-de-sac concealed amongst the terrace gables. Astroturf, market umbrellas and lanterns decorate the 'treetop', making it an ideal spot to for cocktails by the jug.
off Jimmy Watson Lane, Carlton, (03) 9348 0385, wolfslair.com.au
A Melbourne classic, Madame Brussels is a hedonist's playground where cocktails can be ordered by the jug and retro tennis is the dress code du jour. The bar has seen a few summers now, but it shows no sign of slowing down. The entrance is typically unassuming to house a palace of lattice and Astroturf, but, of course, it only adds to Madame Brussels’ charm.
A round of doubles anyone? Who's game?
Level 3, 59-63 Bourke Street, (03) 9662 2775, madamebrussels.com
The Red Hummingbird's deck is an oldie but a goodie. Perfect for an after-work drink — without the obligatory staircase hike — simply pull up a swinging basket chair and have a cocktail.
Level 1, 246 Russell Street, Melbourne, (03) 9654 2266, theredhummingbird.com
The best rooftop south of the river. Pull up a day bed on the Emerson's full-length deck with cocktail in hand and sunglasses firmly in place, as there's no better bar in South Yarra to watch the sun go down. Newly opened this past October, The Emerson is set to be in top form for its first summer.
143-145 Commercial Road, South Yarra, (03) 9825 0900, theemerson.com.au
Melbourne may not have many phwoar views, but you wouldn't know it perched on the terrace of Transit's Cocktail Lounge. The cool breeze off the Yarra below fans the view of the Arts Center precinct, sweeping down to the towers of Southgate. The crowd is usually a healthy mix of Southbank's after-work set with G&T's the refreshment of choice.
Level 2, Transport Hotel, Federation Square, (03) 9654 8808, www.transitcocktaillounge.com.au
December 12, 2013 by Laura Phillips