While rooftop bars have been in vogue for the last couple of years, they have been a city slicker favourite for decades – and it doesn’t look like this will change any time soon. Despite Sydney being somewhat late to this party, even despite its enviable weather, there are a couple of spots that we are particularly enamoured with. Whether it’s new age sleek, or old school charm, Backyard Opera is settling into a booth and watching the city as the sun goes down.
Slim’s Rooftop - CBD
Slim’s Rooftop arrived with the reopening of Hyde Park House in June 2018, bringing a splash of colour to the Sydney skyline. Not only does Slim’s have a killer view across Hyde Park and the CBD, the bar is a sight in itself. With a thriving cactus garden, pink and orange frilly umbrellas and a diversity of white furniture, your camera will be out before you’ve even ordered a cocktail. The modern Japanese menu is the icing on the cake at this stylish venue, and the selection of izakaya-style eats are as tasty as they look. Choose from edamame with truffle oil, pan fried pork gyozas, salmon teriyaki, poke bowls and much more. The drinks menu is just as colourful, with seven signature cocktails including the Purple Heart – an enticing concoction of INK gin, St Germain elderflower liquor, Cointreau, lime and guava. Whether you’re on the hunt for after work drinks, or a fancy night out with your girl squad, it doesn’t get much better than Slim’s.
The Glenmore – The Rocks
The Glenmore epitomises everything to love about The Rocks: heritage-listed buildings and rustic charm amid glimpses of modernity. The Glenmore was built in 1921 but its rooftop has been given a glassy revamp to make the most of the unbeatable views – it’s surprising there isn’t a line out the door every evening. This gastro pub is a hub for young suits and older visitors alike, but only those who are willing to walk up three long flights of stairs are rewarded with the view on the other end. The à la carte menu celebrates the best of pub staples while giving them a refined and upmarket makeover. Favourites include the grilled haloumi burger, pan fried barramundi fillet and salt and pepper squid. There’s a lengthy drinks menu to match, including a bottled beer and cider menu with 40 different options. Cocktails jugs and signatures flesh out the choices, but regardless of what you eat or drink, The Glenmore’s old-world charm and top notch views will have you booking in your next visit fast.
Saké Restaurant and Bar – Manly
The newly opened Saké at Manly Wharf ticks many boxes, but tranquil beauty from the rooftop bar is its crowning jewel. The transparent surrounds blend the landscape with the bar itself, and up on the rooftop you couldn’t be blamed for mistaking your perch for the top level of a cruise liner. The best part of the Saké rooftop is the Sundowner Sessions from Monday-Wednesday from 5-6pm – glorious $10 spritzes and gin bowls. The sophisticated menu features a smattering of tempura, hot starters, makimono sushi, ngiri and sashimi, while the bar menu offers oysters, popcorn shrimp, renkon chips and kakiage buns. Whether you’re a sake aficionado or merely a view finder, Saké offers a modern and classy rooftop perfect for the summer months.
East Village – Darlinghurst
If fairy lights and champagne are your thing then East Village is the place to be. At the top of six flights of stairs you’ll find your reward, Terrace: a rooftop garden bar littered with white and pink stools, a flower archway and a ‘ceiling’ of fairy lights mingling with the night sky. Terrace is open both day and night, equally excelling across brunch, dinner and cocktails. Drinks favourites include the seasonal mimosa (prosecco amanti and watermelon) and the Queen Bee (Manuka vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, regal rogue white vermouth, pineapple, lemon and honey). There are also engaging wine and beer menus, which pair well with the citrus ceviche, pork tacos, grilled haloumi and soft shelled crab burger. The scent of jasmine is ripe in the air in summer, and with the curtain of lights and city views, you’ll be stretching your visit. Just remember to book a table in advance!
Old Mate’s Place – CBD
Old Mate’s Place is situated right in the centre of the CBD on Clarence Street, but up on the secluded, plant-heavy rooftop, it’s easy to forget you’re in the city at all. At street level the building is anything but charming, but, as is the way with most hidden bars, if you push past the uninviting façade you’ll be greeted with something very special. Old Mate’s is the underground bar of the sky, with plush leather couches, brass antiques and candle lights inside. Outdoors, however, the bar is airy and light – a cosmopolitan alcove away from the bustle of the streets below. The menu features a pleasing spread of craft beers, plus some delicious and intricate cocktails – including the Pistacia (green grape, rhubarb, toasted pistachio, lemon thyme, white rum, Manzanilla sherry, and citrus). With lights strung about the rooftop, the gothic chic of the interiors are not lost, but you get the benefit of a prime summer pairing: a late-night breeze with a beer in hand.