When it comes to sipping cocktails or sharing a beer, Melbourne’s bar scene is incredibly diverse. From beach bars and riverfront restaurants, to some of the most charismatic rooftop bars in the world, here are 10 of the best spots in the city to raise a glass to a Melbourne sunset.
Fitzroy frivolities at Naked in the Sky
Pull yourself away from the infused vodkas at Naked for Satan and take the lift to the best vantage point north of the Yarra River – Naked in the Sky rooftop bar. Strung with multi-coloured festoon lights, the open terrace boasts views of the city on one side and a line of sight straight down Brunswick Street on the other. Snack on tapas, stay for dinner or kick back with one of nearly 15 beers on tap. Set yourself up in the afternoon and avoid evening queues in the process.
Relax on the river at Arbory Bar & Eatery
Melbourne’s only hundred-metre long bar, Arbory (arbory.com.au) is tucked between Flinders Street Station and the Yarra River, with views across the water to Southbank Promenade. The drinks are craft-focused, featuring drops as diverse as orange wine through to a nitrogen-charged espresso martini served on tap. The menu is heavy on comfort food, with dishes such as southern fried chicken burgers and duck served with spiced quince, carrot and black garlic.
Cocktails on the beach with Captain Baxter
Gather the crew and set sail for Captain Baxter (captainbaxter.com.au) – it’s as close as you can get to St. Kilda foreshore with an upside-down pineapple martini in hand. It’s all hands on deck for a seat at the elevated beachside lounge, which doesn’t take bookings, so arrive early to nab a blue and white-striped lounge and catch the sunset over Port Phillip Bay. Come for the freshly shucked oysters, stay for the view.
Toast the high life at Lui Bar
Toss aside that fear of heights and take the elevator to floor 55 of the Rialto building – Lui Bar is the kind of place where innovative cocktails are accompanied by a story and opulence is a given. Talk through your creation at the bar or relax in a chaise lounge, you’re guaranteed an exquisite view of the city. Snacks are pinched from the much-lauded fine dining restaurant next door, Vue de Monde. Go on – order some caviar.
A taste of Spain on the Bomba Bar rooftop
Don't let Melbourne’s unpredictable weather put you off a rooftop rendezvous, the retractable roof at the sky-high, city centre bodega Bomba has you covered. There's a copper bar for leaning and an outdoor terrace for taking in Lonsdale Street – not to mention a kitchen that churns out dishes like aged jamon and croquetas oozing with everything from cheese to smoked eel. Share a carafe of sangria while watching those suckers at the rooftop CrossFit gym below.
Designer drinking at Loop Roof bar
Part contemporary bar and part tropical garden, Loop Roof is accessible via the staircase at Loop bar. Blue baubles sway in the breeze, almost as mesmerising as Melbourne’s skyscrapers. Beyond the view, people flock here for exotic botanical cocktails: think lavender and pink peppercorn pisco fizz, or perhaps a selection of juleps with intriguing flavours like beetroot and walnut. Drink-friendly food, like sliders and croquettes, mean you can settle in for the evening.
Landmark wining and dining at Siglo in the city
Part of Melbourne’s iconic Spring Street dining complex, which also features The European, The Melbourne Supper Club, City Wine Shop and Spring Street Grocer, Siglo is decidedly old world, offering cigars, late night suppers and a substantial wine list. Head up the stairs to the elegant terrace – complete with black-and-white checkerboard flooring and a view of Parliament House – then pull up a woven chair at a white cloth-adorned table and order a negroni.
Sip in style at The Emerson rooftop
Join the cool kids in South Yarra on The Emerson (theemerson.com.au) rooftop, set just off the Chapel Street shopping strip. Named after Ralph Waldo himself, people here are less concerned with transcendentalist experiences and more interested in partying. The retractable roof makes it the perfect place for sunset bubbles regardless of the weather, but there’s a tendency to kick-start the evening with a signature espresso martini laced with salted caramel. A full menu is available from Thursday through Sunday.
Beers, burgers and city views at Easey’s
Is this the only place in the world where you can wash down a burger with a beer while sitting in a train carriage fastened to the top of a five-storey building? The ‘beer yards’ between the carriages at Easey's (easeys.com.au) take advantage of the city vistas, but it’s easy to get distracted by the Melbourne Madness burger: a double beef patty layered with triple American cheddar, bacon, a potato cake, dim sim, jalapeños, pickles, onion, ketchup and mustard.
Japanese cocktails at Upside Rooftop Bar
Located on the second floor of 127 Brunswick Street – Fitzroy’s multi-level venue that contains Ichi Ni Nana Japanese restaurant and Village People Hawker Food Hall – is Upside Rooftop Bar (upsiderooftopbar.com.au). It's an Asian-sensation version of Melbourne’s much-loved Rooftop Bar, which crowns Curtain House in the city centre. Although it's cozier than some of its sky-high counterparts, Upside makes for an intimate evening in the open air. Order snacks from Village People and almost-too-pretty-to-eat Japanese whisky cocktails. Almost.