There's something about being at high altitude that makes an afternoon cocktail taste better. Maybe it’s the views that Melbourne’s seemingly infinite supply of rooftop bars afford, maybe it’s being closer to the sun on a warm spring day, or maybe it’s the thirst earned from climbing flights of stairs to get to your destination. Whatever it is, there’s nothing quite like spending an afternoon soaking up rays high above the city streets and watching the sun sink low over the skyline. In this city of elevated leisure, we round up the best venues to experience ascendance.
You could plan your entire calendar around the various events at Good Heavens, a pastel-infused rooftop bar in Melbourne CBD that is reminiscent of 1980s Miami. From Tiki Tuesday to Sunday spritzes and daily board games, the laid-back summer vibe is never-ending—but particularly on the first Sunday of every month, when the inner-city oasis hosts an all-day party comprising bottomless mimosas, food specials and DJs spinning ‘80s tunes. The venue is owned by the same people behind downstairs smokehouse Fancy Hanks and the snack menu features many of the sister venue’s signature smoked meat flavours.
Level 2, 79 Bourke Street, Melbourne.
Be warned: there’s a fair climb to get to the aptly named Rooftop Bar, located seven levels above Swanston Street in the Curtin House building. The pay-off is that this kind of elevation means successful climbers are treated to panoramic views over Melbourne, stretching right to the horizon. This astro-turfed paradise represents one of the best combinations of views and cocktails (and beer and wine) that the city has to offer—and, on weekends, is open from 10am, meaning you can make a natural transition from granola and Virgin Marys in the morning to burgers and beers in the afternoon.
Level 7, Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne.
Exuding the atmosphere of a sophisticated Parisian bar high above the streets of Melbourne, Siglo is where to go if your evening calls for a certain level of refinement. The spectacular cube of industrial steel, glass and neon rises from a wraparound timber staircase and opens out to views of Melbourne’s architectural wonders: the spire of St Patrick’s Cathedral, the domes of Princess Theatre and the columned façade of Parliament. Within the bar itself, guests sit on French-style wicker chairs while white-shirted bartenders serve up classic cocktails, premium spirits and Cuban cigars.
Level 2, 161 Spring Street, Melbourne.
Naked In The Sky
Although Naked In The Sky boasts panoramic views from its glass-clad courtyard, it’s never been content to plod along as a one-trick pony. Winter through summer, the bar is a hive of activity and seats are hot property. Not only does Naked In The Sky—the upstairs offshoot of Spanish pintxos bar Naked For Satan—have views up and down Brunswick Street and out to the city beyond, it also has a Basque-style menu of refined tapas dishes, an unusual and comprehensive selection of craft beers on tap, an impressive list of wine and cocktails, and an enormous choice of house-made flavoured vodkas. The latter is a specialty of the bar—something best sampled with a plate of jamon croquettes and a view of the sunset.
285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
State of Grace
The celestial name is appropriate: if heaven had cheeseboards and a smart-casual dress code, it would look something like State of Grace. Located within the palatial Melbourne Steamship Co. building, the bar conjures up the eclectic glamour of another century with its balustrades, chandeliers and walls adorned with bric-a-brac—including a taxidermy giraffe head. Outside of this interior wonderland is a more natural one: views over the city are ample, and are best enjoyed with one of the signature cocktails that have helped forge State of Grace’s reputation as an essential Melbourne destination—for instance, the Saving Grace, a salted caramel-spiked espresso martini that will complete your ascension.
27 King Street, Melbourne.
The Duke of Wellington
The Duke of Wellington is part floating pub, part elevated garden oasis and part city institution. The venue holds the title of Melbourne’s oldest licensed pub, but the rooftop setting is one of the city’s newer watering holes. Opened mid-2018 as part of renovations to the original pub, the rooftop bar retains the casual yet established atmosphere of the downstairs area with the addition of sweeping city views, art-adorned walls, televisions playing sporting matches and a menu of modern Australian pub food.
146 Flinders Street, Melbourne.