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Sydney's Best New Rooftop Bars to Hit Up This Spring

From a Palm Springs-inspired bar to a plant-filled seaside oasis, these new rooftops on the block are pulling out all the stops.
By Rachel Cormack and Concrete Playground
September 24, 2018

Sydney's Best New Rooftop Bars to Hit Up This Spring

From a Palm Springs-inspired bar to a plant-filled seaside oasis, these new rooftops on the block are pulling out all the stops.
By Rachel Cormack and Concrete Playground
September 24, 2018


From a Palm Springs-inspired bar to a plant-filled seaside oasis, these new rooftops on the block are pulling out all the stops.

There's a certain entrancing quality to rooftop bars — maybe it's drinking at altitude, maybe it's the fresh air on your face or the sun beating down on your Vitamin-D-deficient skin — whatever the reason, these beguiling open-air beauties consistently draw us in. Thankfully, Sydney has just scored five more swish new rooftop bars just in time for spring.

While it might be tempting to head to the same old al fresco stalwarts you know and love, why not soak up the sun someplace new. From a Palm Springs-inspired bar to a plant-filled seaside oasis, these new rooftops on the block are pulling out all the stops. And, we're glad — cocktails taste infinitely better skyward in new surrounds.

Here are our favourite new rooftop bars to visit in Sydney — so, next time it's sunny, you can spend less time Googling venues and more time drinking. You're welcome.

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    If good things come to those who wait, then three-storey beachfront haunt Manly Greenhouse must be destined for greatness. The multi-faceted waterfront venue has space for a whopping 400, boasting a foliage-heavy coastal-style fit-out by award-winning studio Luchetti Krelle. It boasts a super lush setting befitting the name, including some pretty special collaborative efforts from illustrator Beci Orpin and the greenery experts at The Plant Room.

    Downstairs, The Greenhouse is your go-to for casual eats at any time of day. The menu’s got a modern Italian bent, starring pizzas done in the woodfire oven, and pasta dishes like pappardelle with slow-cooked brisket. Other bites might include the likes of crab bruschetta, a bone-in grass-fed Riverina sirloin, and mushroom and provolone arancini served with garlic aioli. The cocktail lineup’s another nod to Italy, starring classics like the negroni, an Aperol spritz and the Cafe Frizzante, a blend of sparkling water, cold brew, vermouth and Campari.

    And the icing on this cake is the rooftop, where panoramic ocean views and a healthy dose of greenery prove a breezy backdrop for signature cocktails, toasted sandwiches and an edit of bar snacks from the menu downstairs. Looks like the Steyne has some competition.

    Image: Yasmin Mund

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    Keen for a trip to sunny California but just can’t justify the cost? Make tracks to the Quarrymans Hotel in Pyrmont for a kombucha spritz and plate of tacos, instead. The craft beer den has expanded upward, opening The Rooftop, a Palm Springs-inspired bar and lounge, on the hotel’s top level.

    Designer Matt Woods (BloodwoodDevon Cafe) is channeling poolside, resort feels with pastel pink walls, textured timber flooring and bright, airy spaces. The indoor section better resembles a posh beach house with multiple rooms filled with plush leather couches and chairs, coffee tables and bookshelves, along with modern globe lamps and large-scale artwork on the walls. Venture outside for a mix of bar, bench and table seating, checkered umbrellas and hanging greenery, plus a cacti garden and succulents on each table.

    While downstairs focuses on craft beer, The Rooftop is more of a cocktail affair. The list starts with creations like the house spritz, made with grapefruit vodka and lemon myrtle kombucha, and the Palma Rosa — a combo of tequila blanco, rosé, ruby grapefruit juice and ginger syrup. You’ll also find a selection of wines by the glass, here, and a few taps dedicated to the likes of Young Henrys, Balter and Stone & Wood. In terms of food, the rooftop menu combines pub grub with a touch of Baja California — think chicken tacos with salsa fresca and guacamole, or a salmon poké salad with ginger and mentsuyu sauce.

  • 4

    Hotel William, a historic four-storey hotel on Darlinghurst’s William Street, has reopened after a big round of renos as Hyde Park House — and it now boasts a public bar, cocktail parlour and lounge. But we’re already heading up to the hotel’s top level, where Slims Rooftop offers views across Hyde Park, izakaya-style eats and Asian-inspired drinks.

    The bright fit-out starts with retro frilly orange and pink umbrellas covering all-white furnishings, which include a mix of low and high tables, along with a few picnic-style benches. Heaps of tropical greenery and potted cacti add to the lush surrounds. It’s no secret that cocktail-sipping and rooftops go hand-in-hand, and Slims follows suit with a selection of classics like Aperol spritzes and margaritas ($16–$18), sitting alongside signatures starring Asian ingredients. Sip on a Try Relaxing at Lake Tahoe (Suntory whisky with matcha tea and pisco) or the La Dolce Vita (rum with hibiscus tea, mint and lime), priced at $18 a pop.

    The menu focuses on modern Japanese-inspired small plates — think sushi rolls and poké bowls, along with snacks like truffle oil edamame ($9), pan-fried pork or veggie gyoza ($10) and wasabi karaage chicken ($17). If you’re looking for larger dishes to share, there’s a traditional teppanyaki slinging grilled goods like salmon teriyaki ($30), miso eggplant ($19) and barbecued prawns ($29).

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    In the midst of the bustling business epicentre that is Macquarie Park, you’ll find a secluded rooftop bar offering sanctuary from the streets. Ess, short for The Governess, is the sky-high counterpart to The Governor — an expansive multifaceted venue which sits below — and comes equipped with panoramic views of the suburb, al fresco dining options, comfortable banquette seating and foliage aplenty.

    From the same group behind renowned establishments like the Bella Vista Hotel and Hillside Hotel — that’s the Momento Group helmed by the Colosimo family — The Governor and Ess offer a little something for every occasion. Given the venue’s locale and design, after-work drinks in particular — the greenhouse-inspired aesthetic, with bucket loads of natural light and verdant plant life, will make you forget all about your 9-to-5 woes.

    Menu wise, Head Chef Luke Lashford has put together a broad food offering, Ess boasts a rooftop bar and kitchen of its own. Tuck into Asian-inspired fare predominately centred around the Japanese charcoal grill, think wagyu beef skewers, port ribs with wasabi chimichurri and portobello mushroom katsu baos. The drinks list covers all the classics but, since you’re chilling in her hood, why not try namesake cocktail The Governess, with gin, lemon, raspberry, marshmallow milk and ginger float.

    Image: Kai Leishman

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    Phase three of the Imperial’s $6 million redevelopment is turning things UP with a rooftop space that combines Italian food and cocktail culture with the vibrancy of LGBTQI+ culture. Following the launch of ‘drag & dine’ spot Priscillas and late-night hangout The Basement, Imperial UP features serious Studio 54 feels with artisanal eats, drinks and Andy Warhol vibes.

    After being closed for nearly three decades, Imperial’s top floor has been spruced up with a 200-person courtyard, a plethora of pop art and gold mirror covered pizza ovens. On the menu you’ll find Italian food with a touch of the Imperial’s flamboyant flair. The lineup of stuzzichino, pasta and pizza features fried school prawns with bright saffron aioli, spaghetti ragu, pepperoni pizza and wagyu steak. Like downstairs sibling Priscillas, Imperial UP also has a strong list of vegan, gluten free and dairy free dishes. And — importantly — an extensive cocktail menu, which stretches from the classics through to colourful jugs of inventive drinks.

    The new space is fit for many occasions, the external rooftop and inside Carlotta’s Lounge primed for after-work drinks, and Rosa Room and Carpriccio’s Corner ready for intimate gatherings. UP’s opening has also welcomed the beginning of Explore Yourself Sundays — a weekly venue-wide gathering that will give everyone at Imperial a chance to embrace queer culture, starting July 15. Keep an eye out for the launch of a diva-dazzled Drag Party Lunch in September, and the highly anticipated Same-Sex Wedding Chapel coming sometime in early 2019.

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    They say not to judge a book by its cover — and Old Mate’s Place is proving just that. Hidden within a run-down office building, with an unassuming facade that’s quite easy to miss, the venue certainly doesn’t look much from the street. But, step inside and you’ll be presently surprised, a stately two-storey bar and secluded rooftop awaits.

    The brainchild of three seasoned hospitality superstars — Andres Walters (The Lobo PlantationKittyhawk), partner Gabrielle Walters (Black by Ezard) and mate Daniel Noble (Ramblin’ Rascal TavernMojo Record Bar) — the bar boasts an endearing shabby-chic aesthetic which the trio has executed with precision. With old books and family heirlooms haphazardly strewn throughout and foliage creeping up the walls leading to the rooftop space, it’s hard to feel anything but comfortable in this bar which feels strangely familiar.

    Drinks wise, the comprehensive cocktail list capitalises on the 300-strong back bar selection. Whatever tipple tickles your fancy, you’ll find it here — along with a rotation of cured meats and a trio of Philly cheesesteaks. But we’re here to talk about the rooftop, and, it’s a goodie. Open from 5–2am, Tue–Sat, it’s the perfect place for a post-work drink. Affording panoramic views of the Sydney skyline and lush verdant greenery, this rooftop makes it easy to forget you’re in the middle of the CBD.

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