Sep 18, 2017
We’ve scoped out Sydney’s best rooftop bars for top-notch views, that inner-city atmosphere, gastro-pub fare and stellar drinks.
Zephyr at Hyatt Regency Hotel
As the crown atop the 12 levels of Darling Harbour's Hyatt Regency, there's no doubt the view across Sydney is worth the climb. Both Darling Harbour and Sydney's CBD is on show from this open air venue but the real performance happens at the bar, where mixologist Grant Collins has created an inventive and exciting cocktail menu. The highlight? The $60 Gold Leaf Fig Sour - the reimagined classic 'sour' - which actually levitates, thanks to a clever use of coaster-concealed magnets.
Terrace Rooftop Bar at East Village Sydney
Found at the refurbished East Village in Sydney’s Darlinghurst, Terrace boasts sprawling views of the city skyline, a retractable roof and an urban-garden vibe. Hungry? You'll find a menu of diverse share plates, spanning escabeche, Israeli couscous, beef tatami and hot doughnuts. Thirsty? A neat list of wine, beer, cocktails, on-alcoholic concoctions and a rotating roster of globally-inspired drink specials will keep you hydrated.
234 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst
One of the newest additions to the rooftop bar scene is over at The Light Brigade, which has seen a recent top-to-toe refurbishment. Head up top for expansive views of the city and harbour and settle in with a cold drink (the Harbour View cocktail seems apt). Have a snack or stay for a meal – the crowd-pleasing menu has something to tempt everyone, including gourmet wood-fired pizzas.
Corner of Oxford St & Jersey Road, Woollahra
The Glenmore Hotel
This golden oldie – built in 1921 – remains one of Sydney’s most popular bars for after-work drinks. Take in 180-degree harbour views from the spacious rooftop of The Glenmore, and order from a menu of pub classics such as hot wings, burgers and fish and chips. A retractable roof means that the rooftop stays open rain, hail or shine.
96 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
Sky Terrace at The Star
During the summer, Sydneysiders get to party at the most entertaining outdoor bar in town. The sizeable Sky Terrace, part of The Star complex in Pyrmont, is open from Friday through to Sunday evenings and has everything from DJs and pop-up bars to foosball tables and casual eats. Did we mention the view? Settle in to watch twilight fall across the harbour.
Level 3, Harbourside, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Coogee Pavilion Rooftop
Location is key at this multi-storey masterpiece – from publican Justin Hemmes – that encompasses a beachside restaurant, pizzeria, games room and, its crown jewel, a glistening rooftop bar. The rooftop balcony of the Coogee Pavilion promises sweeping views of the shore, and serves Mediterranean share plates along with a solid list of cocktails.
169 Dolphin Street, Coogee
Level Seven at Primus Hotel
For a long time, or at least since the opening of Primus Hotel in Sydney CBD in 2015, its rooftop bar was exclusively the domain of the hotel guests. But that's changed of late. The al fresco drinking hole, which occupies the entire seventh floor of the Art Deco-style building, is now open for everyone. Make yourself at home at the marble-topped bar under a stylish pergola or nab a table next to the elevated glass-enclosed plunge pool. The menu is short and sophisticated, with a playful touch. There’s a neat list of international and local beers and wines, signature cocktails featuring fruits, herbs and spices, plus, bar snacks, such as chorizo jaffles and wagyu burgers.
Level 7, 339 Pitt Street, Sydney; (02) 8027 8000
Rooftop Bar at Websters Bar
Astroturf, corrugated iron and besser bricks under strings of outdoor lights create the feel of a suburban backyard, only here at Websters you’ll find umbrellas instead of Hills Hoists and a comprehensive menu of classic pub fare, including steaks, pizza and pasta dishes. Bring the family: kids are welcome at this Newtown venue, plus there’s a happy hour and $10 specials.
323 King Street, Newtown
Sure the rooftop of the Palisade Hotel in Millers Point is tiny, but with gobsmacking 360-degree views, it was only a matter of time before somebody saw its cocktail bar potential. With pink sofas, art deco fanciness and food by chef Joel Bennetts, the rooftop eyrie is as far from the pub’s dock-worker roots as it’s possible to get. For today’s inner-Sydney drinkers, it’s a breath of fresh air – literally.
35 Bettington Street, Millers Point
There’s a fabulous Day of the Dead theme running through this Bondi Junction restaurant and rooftop bar that makes you feel like you’re visiting Oaxaca in Mexico. El Topo's tequila and mescal list is almost 100-strong, with a host of margaritas and tasting flights available. You’d do well to order the soft-shell crab and achiote chicken tacos, but there’s also “chapulines” (roast crickets, chile, garlic and lime) if you’re game.
500 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction
The Ivanhoe Hotel
Stone-clad walls, lush greenery and an impressive light installation that doubles as shade makes the rooftop of The Ivanhoe Hotel a cool retreat on a hot summer’s day. Of course, respite also comes in the form of cold drinks (you can’t go wrong with a pitcher of Pimms) and when you get peckish, you can move on to the full bistro, burger and pizza menu.
27 The Corso, Manly
SEE ALSO: Where to Find Sydney’s Best Desserts
Rooftop at Kings Cross Hotel
While it’s perched in the thick of the action, the rooftop of the Kings Cross Hotel is neither gritty, nor super-sleek or pretentious. Instead, you’re greeted by a bric-a-brac filled patio illuminated by the soft red glow of the Coca-Cola sign. A short but sweet menu of food and drinks has all the usual, delicious, suspects (read: ribs, burgers, schnity and roasts).
244-248 William Street, Kings Cross
Rooftop Garden Bar at New Brighton Hotel
Plenty of open-air seating, glass balustrades and an epic view of Manly Beach set the scene at this contemporary and well-appointed casual bar at the New Brighton Hotel. Soak up the sun from a daybed or make your way to the shade to take in views over the parapet. Open from 12pm, it’s a great spot to have a snack and a bevy after a big day at the beach.
71 The Corso, Manly
This rooftop oasis – right in the thick of the business district – has become the go-to place for knock-off drinks. Tucked down Tank Stream Way, Taylor's is reached via a considerable flight of stairs, however the climb rewards you with a refreshing list of cocktails, wine and beer. Hungry? Chef Lee Thompson (ex-The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room, and Opera Bar) keeps things simple with morsels like Peking duck spring rolls, and jamón and potato croquettes.
69-73 Pitt Street, Sydney
Zeta Bar at the Hilton
Technically set on a terrace, Zeta Bar's chic interiors give way to expansive views of the Queen Victoria Building in the CBD. Enjoy the cool evening breeze in the summer or, in the chillier months, head inside and snag a spot by the huge gas fireplace. Expect fabulous cocktails, expert bartenders and a crowd – it starts to fill up later in the evening.
Level 4, 488 George Street, Sydney
ARTBAR at the Museum of Contemporary Art
If you enjoy your drinks with a little art, music and views on the side, the curated performance art/bar set-up at the MCA in The Rocks ticks the boxes. There's plenty to see and experience throughout the museum, but head up to the rooftop MCA Cafe for drinks and unbeatable views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Last Friday of every month, $25 entry.
140 George Street, The Rocks
SEE ALSO: Best Waterfront Restaurants in Sydney
The Local Taphouse
The Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst opens its rooftop garden throughout summer and specialises in local, limited-run beers. Novices can order a tasting paddle, or choose from 20 brews on tap and an extensive range of bottled ales, stouts, pilsners and ciders. This venerable tavern also has a veritable feast of classic counter meals including steak, bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie.
122 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst
Perched seven floors above ground, The Rook and it's industrial rooftop bar has become one of the coolest destinations in town. Lobster is the order of the day – think lobster and chorizo croquettes, lobster rolls and whole lobster served one of three ways – paired with killer cocktails such as the Submariner (Bundaberg Rum small batch, Falernum, apricot, citrus, pineapple juice and bitters). Yum.
56-58 York Street, Sydney
Occupying the top floor of the Sugarmill hotel, Sweethearts is a low-key affair, replete with picnic tables, pitchers and barbecued meats. Sample everything from habanero chilli cheese to chipotle pork quesadillas and fresh churros; you would be forgiven for thinking you’re in the neighbour’s backyard. Wash it all down with a selection of tequila cocktails including the energising Espresso Martinez: sweetened Don Julio Blanco tequila and espresso.
33-37 Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point
The Royal Hotel
The tiny rooftop of The Royal Hotel, which reaches capacity at just 40 people, is beloved by Sydney locals. Nab a seat with views across Paddington to the harbour and get well acquainted with their seasonal cocktails and pub staples including steak, burgers and fish and chips. Stop by for Bottomless Bellini Brunches on Saturday mornings, Wednesday Night Date Night with babysitters in-house or Bloody Sunday Sessions with make-your-own Bloody Marys and DJs from 1pm.
137 Glenmore Road, Paddington
Small, sweet and super hip. We’re talking no signage, a live DJ, vinyl on display, long necks and drinks served in tumblers. Once you find Ching-a-Lings, on Darlinghurst’s Oxford Street, grab a drink at the yellow-lit bar, make your way through the industrial interior and head out the back to finish your drink in the inner-city ambience of the rooftop deck.
133 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Ascend its rickety staircase to Corridor’s sunny rooftop deck. A unique cocktail menu – which they warn is “not for the faint-hearted” – and tasty share plates make it easy to while away an afternoon here. Try the classic Blood and Sand (scotch, red vermouth, cherry liqueur and orange juice) with a side of salt and pepper calamari or fried-chicken steam buns.
153A King Street, Newtown
SEE ALSO: The Best Gelato in Sydney
By Ellie Schneider and Hana Jo
Top image: Level Seven