Statistical fact, because I am nothing if not a scientist: bars (and also drinking in general) are at least 45.7 times better when there is a roof involved. Maybe it’s the Vitamin D, maybe it’s the feeling of merriment, or perhaps it’s being able to see the people below you not on the roof and realising you are without a doubt superior.
I know this because of the following formula: Margarita + friends + bar - roof over head = equations make my brain hurt. Just go to the damn bar and enjoy yourself.
If there’s one place that can get you out of your PJs, off your couch, and an uncomfortable distance away from Stranger Things, it’s Brigade Rooftop. A far cry from its old roots as a pub (but just as wonderful and friendly), this Paddington bar is going to breathe life into your days. With spec-bloody-tacular views of the city and more cocktails in the sun than your Instagram can handle, this is going to be your fair weather staple.
One of those joints that prove our theory that Inner West is Best, Corridor will have your Eastern Suburbs mates running, nay, sprinting towards you. The decor brings just the right amount of nostalgia, with bulb fairy lights and just enough decking for you to feel right at home. The food is simple and comforting, think arancini balls and cheese or grazing boards, while the cocktail list will have you chewing your fingers trying to make a decision. The bar staff don’t mess about, and they know their stuff. Go for the banana rum old fashioned if that’s your jam… It will be.
Darlo Bar is one of those awesome places that remains consistently awesome after so many years. Any sort of vibe goes here, from casual craft brewskies, a few too many bottles of rose, or one of their delicious smoked negronis, it’s a recipe for a bad ass evening. It’s the perfect spot for birthdays, and if you’re feeling like making it a biggie, these guys have a beautiful boutique hotel upstairs so you can start in the afternoon, go way too late and collapse onto the comfiest of beds without having to stumble into an Uber.
Royal Hotel Paddington
Lorde was wrong, because you’ll definitely be Royals at this Paddington bar. Please don’t hold that joke against me. I’ll make it up to you by telling you just how awesome The Elephant cocktail bar and the rooftop above are, and then you’ll go in and love it and thank me. It’s an intimate space, only holding 40 people, so you’ll want to either get in early. Like I said, cocktails just taste better when you can see the city skyline.
Oh yeah, this is the one, the one that hit Sydney in mid-2015 and almost broke The Urban List when we announced it. In a sea of old pubs, Taylors is a testament to the perfect blend of old and new: with a lush green wall for the ‘Grammers, and a fresh to death copper beer tank for those that just want to kick back with a cold one. This is the place to be in the CBD after work or on weekends, so hightail it down there and let the fun begin.
Tucked away in the CBD, Paragon Hotel has been around for a long time. Recently renovated to bring us (and you, obvs) a shiny, new rooftop, it’s the perfect place for a few cheeky bevs or a laid-back Sunday sesh with your whole squad. From the team behind Taylors, these guys know what they’re doing. With a huge disco ball hanging from the open-air roof, city views and tropical beats on the go 24/7, the moment you walk in you won’t want to leave.
Ahhhh good old Coogee Pav. The must for post-Bondi to Bronte walks and general occasions when you want to cause shenanigans. The beauty of this Eastern Suburbs gem is in its ability to tick all of the boxes, from sunsets to sunday sessions, delicious cocktails and nibbles that aren’t just salt and pepper squid, to a play area for the kids downstairs. Our man Justin Hemmes nailed it with this one, which is probably why we can never stay away.
The Old Clare
Part of the enormous revamping of Kensington Street, The Old Clare Hotel and its delicious rooftop and bar have become a huge part of Sydney’s socialites and their Insta feeds. But that doesn’t mean it has one of those intimidating vibes, fun is in the eye of the beholder after all. They also have a lovely boutique hotel if you want to make an evening out of the whole Kensington Street experience (and you should).
I could be wrong, but The Glenmore can almost be credited for starting the whole Sydney rooftop bar thing that makes articles like this go crazy on FB (or so I hope). The ideal spot for a birthday, a day session, or a few after work drinkies while watching the sunset over our glorious city, this place has it all and then some.
Overlooking Darling Harbour, you can expect vermouth inspired cocktails and all of the rums, with Sydney’s largest range of aperitifs and digestives all in the one place. There are also barrel-aged cocktails and a food menu that’s infused with wine and rum—let’s just say, it’s definitely our kind of place. Not only is Zephyr Bar all shiny and new, it’s just straight up one of Sydney’s best rooftop bars.
Level Seven is a New York inspired rooftop bar at Primus Hotel Sydney and we all know that’s the best kind of rooftop bar. Once upon a time, this little slice of heaven was only available to guests but the doors have officially opened to the public and you can consider Saturday night sorted. Their signature drink proves that they get you. It’s a rosé spritz and life is now complete, but hold onto your hats people because it also comes in popsicle form which will come in handy when your lazing poolside this summer (yes, there’s a pool too).
Le Rivage Pool Bar
This one isn’t just any old rooftop bar but a (wait for it) rooftop pool bar and it’s in the brand spankin’ new Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. Grab your kaftan and make like Kimye, with cocktails, a 20m infinity pool and oh yeah, views across Sydney’s epic CBD Skyline. PSA: you need to be a guest to enjoy the pool, let’s just say it’s time to treat yo’self.
Cocooned amongst the high rise buildings of Barangaroo, Untied Rooftop should be your go-to for after work drinks, you know, if summer vibes and killer cocktails are your things. Start with the Flamin’ Galah cocktail, because #straya. It’s a mix of Jinzu Gin, homemade ginger soda syrup, fresh watermelon and lime juice and is basically summer in a glass. From there, it’s all about the snacks and sunshine—you know what to do.
One of the Sydney joints that has flipped a very large bird to the shitty laws of Kings X, Sweethearts Rooftop is still killing it in every way. A literal world above the bustle of the area, this chilled out joint has delicious cocktails, craft beers, and a tempting Mexican menu so you don’t need to leave in order to fill up your stomach. When you do, however, be sure to tuck into the torta, it’s a real slice (or slab) of Mexico City.
The Local Tap House
If you haven’t been to The Local Tap House yet, I bet anything you’ve driven past it 50 times. So either go back and remember why you loved it or get your tush over there quick smart. The rooftop area is small but mighty, and as the name would suggest, the beer selection is top notch. When it’s a little chilly, you can warm up with a Sunday roast on the roof, or keep it chill with a bottle of sparkling or a paddle of beers when the sun is out.
How could we forget this one? Having seen its fair share of afternoon drinks, crazy Saturday nights and countless people thinking it’s a good idea to get in the pool at their Sunday sessions, it’s safe to say the ivy will be safely on this list for many years to come. Also, the pizza. It’s really, really good. Head across to Ucello after if you’re into that kind of (seriously amazing Italian food) thing.
The Royal Oak
An honourable mention goes to The Royal Oak. Whilst yes, technically more of a terrace deal, this place is the best of both worlds: you want to hang in Double Bay, want to have an awesome time, want to enjoy delicious drinks and food, but don’t want designer clothing to be a prerequisite and don’t want to empty your entire bank account in one go. See? Best of both worlds. It’s a great spot for a mid week dinner with your mates as well. Take that, Double Pay!
Once you've drunk your way through these rooftops why not check out Sydney's Best CBD Bars.
Image credit: Paragon Hotel | Carla Dibbs, Untied Rooftop | Alana Dimou