Whether you're after beers and sun or moonlight and cocktails, these high altitude drinking spots are well worth the climb
From the multitasking marvel of Curtin House to the trippy wonderland that is the Carlton Club, Melburnians love their multi-level drinking dens. The newest is on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, with Ichi Ni Nana on street level, Village People Hawker Hall in the middle, and Japanese-inspired Upside Rooftop Bar acting as the boozy icing on the cake. Order Village People Thai-style street food from below and lord over Fitzroy, cocktail in hand.
Best summer cocktail: Try the frothy Khing Ginger, made from yuzu, gin, ginger and eggwhite, served in a sugar-rimmed Champagne flute.
The view: It wouldn't be a Fitzroy view without the mixture of terrace buildings below and commission flats soaring above.
Once you ascend the seemingly endless flight of stairs to the Rooftop Bar (passing Cookie and the Toff in Town along the way), catch your breath and quench your thirst while taking in the heart and soul of Melbourne from above. Kick back on the fake grass, or huddle under the heating and lose yourself in the spectacular view. Up here, you're worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the streets below.
The view: A panorama of the CBD. Spy on lower rooftops by day, and take in the blinking city lights by night.
The tunes: DJs spin chilled-out beats most nights of the week; and Sundays are all about low-key electro vibes in the afternoon.
Naked in the Sky is the restaurant and rooftop bar crowning Naked for Satan – Fitzroy’s bright and brassy house of flavoured vodkas and cheap pintxos (small snacks on bread – drinking fodder of Basque country, Spain). At high altitude, the bar snacks get more refined; think fried cheese and walnut croquettes, confit duck sliders and baked camembert.
Best summer cocktail: Basque in the Sun granita. This fruity, frozen cocktail blends pomegranate vodka, Aperol and pink grapefruit granita.
The view: You won't find a better view of the north; head up there in the afternoon and watch the setting sun cast golden light over the rooftops.
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. Drinks-wise, you can expect craft beer, pre-mixed cocktails for dispensing from siphons, and Rositas on tap. Hungry? Go for tender strips of herby fried chicken.
Best summer cocktail: Order the Pompadour #2: a refreshing blend of Noilly Prat vermouth, crème de cassis, Yellow Chartreuse and ginger ale.
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.
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: What you want is the Bomba #1 Cup, made from Casa Mariol Vermut Negre, a splash of Pampero Blanco rum and lemon juice, mint, cucumber and ginger beer.
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 bartenders at Bomba throw down chilled house tunes from the afternoon well into the night.
South Yarra’s got a multi-level fun emporium in this joint. The lower decks are all about live entertainment and DJs, 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.
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 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 refined bar snacks. Solid systems, a good-time vibe and a businesslike attitude.
Best summer cocktail: Ramos Gin Fizz, made with Tanqueray gin, cream, lemon and lime juice and orange blossom water.
The view: A high-class establishment like Siglo deserves a high-class view: here, you're watching the sun set over Parliament House and the top end of Spring Street.
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 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.
Others we love
Best for sea air: Captain Baxter
Best for la-di-da drinking: Loop Roof
Best for dressing up fancy: Madame Brussels