Sydney doesn't have a huge number of rooftop bars, but the ones we do have are something to be glad about. The days have been getting hotter, as have the nights, so a hard earned thirst is best quenched in the great outdoors, preferably on a roof, pretending that commuters on the streets below are tiny ants.
This list is a collection of bars and pubs that have put their rooftop real estate to good use. There are old faces, newcomers and places that we might have forgotten. So dust off your aviators and your pilot wings, Maverick, because we're taking to the sky.
(Disclaimer: Don't drink and fly a plane.)
The Glenmore is hardly new, but it certainly has a new lease of life. The much loved local's-style pub remains on ground level, but as you head up the stairs towards the first level and rooftop terrace, you can see just how much this oldie has been spruced up. It has one of the best views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, and the retractable roof is a great addition, along with the rustic style wooden benches and red industrial chairs, to go with the new kitchen. You have to try the Rocks favourite, corn on the cob with chilli lime butter and a sprinkling of cheese ($8), and BBQ-style lamb and chorizo skewers, with a topping of corn and tomato salsa ($16).
96 Cumberland Street, The Rocks; 02 9247 4794; www.theglenmore.com.au
This is Newtown’s best kept secret. It’s a skinny bar with a fairly small wooden deck upstairs, but it’s so worth it for the cocktails, the live jazz (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and the unpretentious local crowd.
153A King Street Newtown; 0422873879; www.corridorbar.com.au
Sweethearts Rooftop Barbeque is the Cross's open-air diamond in the rough. After you've caught your breath after a heavy-going four or five flights of stairs, kick back at one of Sweethearts' long bench tables, in amongst a mountain of trees, beneath some kitsch but redeeming pastel-coloured fairy lights. Reward yourself with a glass of King Valley Prosecco ($10). And don't be alarmed to see the charismatic barman pulling it as he would a coldie; the wines are on tap here. The food menu, meanwhile, is all about skewers, with a range of meat, fish and vegetable on sticks ready to inhale.
33-37 Darlinghurst Rd, Potts Point; 02 9368 7333; www.sweetheartsbbq.com.au
They’ve recently reopened after a major refurb, and if you were a local here before, you won’t recognise it. Come here to escape the usual Surry Hills crowd and eat an awesome vegetarian pizza and a cider on the large wooden deck. Old songs playing on the TV screens will have you reminiscing if conversation dries out.
453 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills; 02 9699 3355; www.strawberryhillhotel.com.au
Perched up so high, it's a slightly smug experience peering eye-level into office workers' windows as they hunch over computers. As you sit here with a cocktail in hand, lobster tail in the other, you know they might just be staring back thinking, "man I'd really kill for that". We're not a lobster-obsessed nation like the States, so it's a bit of a strange choice for an inner-city rooftop bar to specialise in it, particularly at $50 per half with a side of truffle fries. It feels a bit extravagant and incongruous to the casual bar vibe. The lobster itself, however, is super-fresh and handled beautifully. Half of this eclectic, recycled, and colourful space is seating for eating and half is a bar for cocktail sipping, with drinks being mixed by Cristiano Beretta from the highly regarded Black Pearl in Melbourne.
56-58 York Street, Sydney; 02 9262 2505; www.therook.com.au
Located at the intersection of South Dowling and Flinders Streets in Darlinghurst, the Local Taphouse can go slightly unnoticed. With 1920s-inspired decor and a garden-like roof, the Local is anyone's wonderland. The beer haven is the brainchild of Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone, two beer enthusiasts who conceived the inspired idea of opening a taphouse for all those budding beer buffs. Providing more than 20 beers on tap and an extensive range of bottled ales, stouts, pilsners, and ciders of local and international origin, they don't make your decision too easy. They do, however, offer beer pairings for their exceptional food options, most of which incorporate beer in the cooking process. Start with the smoked ale meatballs ($13) to nibble on.
122 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst; 02 9360 0088; www.thelocal.com.au
The rooftop at the Royal Hotel has only just been reopened to pubgoers, and the slick new makeover is something to behold. After a decent trek up a few flights of stairs, juggling coldies, you're rewarded with an outstanding view of the city, the bays and the harbour - an amazing setting to watch the dusk wash over Sydney. The menu at the pub is extensive, comprised of traditional pub food at a decent price ($26 steak, or 8 share dishes for $50). But get in there early, because the rooftop ain’t too big, and it’s bound to fill up quick on the upcoming summer sun downs.
237 Glenmore Road, Paddington; 02 9331 2604; www.royalhotel.com.au
The rooftop at Darlo has high walls but the quirky astro turf and pink flamingos make it more than bearable. Always an interesting mix of people here, and a stone's throw away from Oxford Street if you want to party on.
306 Liverpool Street, Sydney; 02 9331 3672; www.darlobar.com.au
Just outside of the CBD in Darling Harbour, this bar is for those wanting to let off all the pent-up stress from the year and have a very big one. It has live music, pool tables, a decent wine list and $8 steaks too. It's open 24 hours — see if you can make it until sunrise.
96 Union Street, Pyrmont; 02 9660 6996; www.pyrmontbridgehotel.com
This rooftop is a particularly pleasant surprise. On top of what looks like a very dingy, average city pub is a pretty decent-sized tiled rooftop, high enough that you really feel you're up in the air. Huff your way up the stairs to emerge in the bright sun and reward yourself with a glass of champers.
236 Clarence Street, Sydney; 02 9267 1796; www.hotelsweeneys.com.au
By the Concrete Playground team.
November 21, 2013 by James Whitton