Time Out Melbourne

It's a fact – drinks taste better at high altitude, so howl at the moon and salute the sun at these lofty liquor houses

The Emerson

The Emerson

South Yarra’s got a multi-level fun emporium in this joint. The lower decks are all about live entertainment and DJ wars, but we’ve got our eyes set on sunset cocktails on the roof. It’s replete with cushion-lined deck and daybeds, the beats are chilled and the eats are snacks or a la carte.

Best summer cocktail: The Emerson drinks list includes a few cocktail jugs for sharing with mates. Our summer pick is The Social Network (Siroc vodka, Chambord, vanilla, fresh strawberries and lime, finished off with soda and dry).

The view: The bar overlooks picturesque Melbourne from South Yarra to the city skyline.

The tunes: On afternoon in the sun here you can expect chilled-out, soft house with live DJs building into some heavier, more commercial tunes as the sun goes down.



The ultimate late-night bar, perched above Melbourne Supper Club, is a rooftop haven of frosty beers, Americanos and bar snacks such as polenta chips with aioli, a strange Welsh rarebit and a croque monsieur. Solid systems, a good-time vibe and a businesslike attitude.

Best summer cocktail: Basil Blush – gin, lime Juice, Thai basil, egg white and Peychaud Bitters. Shaken and served in a chilled martini glass with a Thai basil garnish.

The view: Siglo looks out over Parliament House, Parliament Gardens and St Patrick's Cathedral.

The tunes: The classics; Frank Sinatra, Phyllis Dillon, Nina Simone, Tom Waits, The Beatles, James Brown, Ray Charles.



Access this Astroturfed terrace from a stairwell in the alley behind Section 8. The perches line the perimeter so you feel like you’re drinking in an infinity pool. Craft beer, pre-mixed cocktails for dispensing from siphons, and Rositas on tap. Food-wise, go for tender strips of herby fried chicken.

Best summer cocktail: 1st Class Fizz. Based on the Twentieth Century cocktail, they combine gin with lemon, white chocolate, Lillet Blanc and a splash of Campari, topped off with Prosecco.

The view: Panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline from the heart of the city.

The tunes: Spotify is the DJ up at Goldilocks and you can pretty much expect anything because the tunes change depending on the weather and the vibe that day.

Bomba Rooftop


The Aylesbury closed up and brought us the more casual, loosened-tie affair, Bomba, but that doesn’t mean the rooftop has lost its elegance. Vermouth here is a real thing as Jesse Gerner has started bringing in Casa Mariol Vermut Negre. There are freshly shucked oysters and olives nightly.

Best summer cocktail: We’re going for The Jealous Italian ( Aperol, sloe gin, Casa Mariol vermouth and fresh passionfruit topped with sparkling wine).

The view: High up on Lonsdale, surrounded by high rises, Bomba’s rooftop bar looks down on Melbourne’s busy inner city.

The tunes: The DJs at Bomba throw down chilled house tunes from the afternoon well into the night.

Palmz Rooftop Bar

Palmz Rooftop Bar

Decadence was clearly a watchword for whoever designed the fit-out of the Carlton Club, with taxidermied exotic animals and velvet trim running rampant. Head up a floor to the thatch-roomed Palmz Rootop Bar for a taste of the tropics – not least from the cocktail jugs.

Best summer cocktail: The Passionfruit Paloma combines Tromba Blanco tequila, fresh passionfruit and lime topped with sparking grapefruit juice and garnished with half a passionfruit.

The view: You get the best of both worlds up at the Palmz rooftop; surrounded by palm trees in a tropical paradise with 360-degree city views.

The tunes: Expect anything from hip-hop to blues to top 40 to house. Wednesday nights get a bit different, with soul music played from 8pm.

On the up

Best for sea air: Captain Baxter
We may never have a rival to Sydney's Ivy but this sea-fronted cocktail bar at the Sea Baths promises to get us few fathoms closer to living the dream.

Best for late, late nights: Loch and Key
Captain Melville, the bistro on Franklin Street now has a late-night cocktail bar sitting on its upper floors like a sparkly party hat. The bar is accessed via the back laneway and stays open till 5am on the weekends.

Best for la-di-da drinking: Loop Roof
While downstairs you might be drinking pints and watching docos made on the smell of an oily rag, upstairs it’s all sunshine, hip hop and flowery drinks in watering cans.

Best for dressing up: Madame Brussels
Madame Brussels is the flirty parlour bar that sits above Collins Street’s Akuza lounge. It's a rooftop bar with AstroTurf, garden furniture, good-looking staff, Pimms cups and sausage rolls.

Best for lording over Fitzroy: Naked in the Sky
From the Naked in the Sky wraparound deck you can see the city and the Dandenongs. It’s so arresting that you’d likely put this place on your summer drinking list even if they were serving nothing but warm tinnies.

Best for painful hipness: Wolf's Lair Drinking Haus and Treetop
This drinking house hideaway nestled off Jimmy Watson Lane in Carlton is doing craft beers, summery cocktail jugs and you can even purchase the dresses right off the waitresses backs if they catch your eye.

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Updated on 6 Dec 2014.

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