It’s time to start filling your social calendar to the brim with festive celebrations! If you’re looking for a place to host your Christmas party, a new spot to call your local, or to head out on a tour of some of the best watering holes, look no further – here are the best bars across both sides of the Tasman to check out this summer – with a particular focus on our rooftop faves.
Harvie – The owners of this hip bar have turned what was an iconic local dairy into a trendy and sophisticated rooftop bar. Formerly Coughlin’s Dairy in the 40s, Harvie opened in 2021 and is already considered the favourite watering hole by Armadale locals – thanks to its homely vibes, impressive menu and, of course, elaborate wine list. Check out their website to find out when the sun will be setting, and enjoy the rooftop with a glass of sparkling, orange, red, white, or rosé in hand.
Pomelo – Melbourne locals will be familiar with Bouvardia – an experimental cocktail bar in the heart of the city. Well, now, their sister is in town – and she’s moved in upstairs. But unlike its vibrant sibling, Pomelo goes for a more low-key vibe. There’s a good selection of draught beers, boozy slushies, and a selection of house-made seltzers served in cans in a bid to be zero-waste.
Old Mates Place – This one’s not necessarily a newbie, but it’s certainly a goodie. Opened in 2018, Old Mates Place spans the top two levels of its central city location, giving bar-goers glorious city views to accompany their Mai Tai cocktail.
Imperial UP – For the ultimate mash-up of Aussie classics and Italian favourites, look no further. Imperial UP boasts a courtyard that fits 200 people, an extensive drinks list, and a retro-style interior that feels both edgy and warm. But to quote the bar themselves, Imperial UP is so much more than a local pub – there are also bingo nights, basement parties, and late-night discos.
Iris Rooftop – Claiming to be Brisbane’s most luxurious rooftop bar and restaurant, Iris Rooftop has reason to gloat. The Fortitude Valley establishment has taken inspiration from the Mediterranean – with vibrant interiors, marble fittings and olive trees. With the added perk of skyline views across Brisbane, what more convincing do you need?
Ivy Blu – For a casual drink with friends in the sun, Ivy Blu has got you. With house pizzas, small plates perfect for sharing, and an extensive drinks menu with something for everyone, it’s bound to become a fan favourite this summer.
Leyla – The new kid in town… and she’s already made a lasting impression on Canberra locals. You’ll find Leyla lounging in a light, airy, and welcoming space with some of the best rooftop views the inner south has to offer. Plus, there’s a colourful menu with an intriguing drinks list to match.
Smith Street Social – There’s no better place to catch the Darwin sunset than here. When the heat is getting the better of you this summer, head to Smith Street Social to cool off with an ice-cold beer on their rooftop, accompanied by one of their Aussie menu classics like hand-crumbed chicken schnitzel or eggplant parma.
Aura Hobart – This rooftop bar is the first of its kind in Hobart. Located on the top of Crowne Plaza, Aura Hobart delivers a seasonal menu that celebrates local seafood and seasonal produce, accompanied by changeable spirits and a quirky wine list.
Songbird Bar – Perched on top of The Ritz-Carlton, Songbird Bar is an elegant addition to Perth’s bar scene. Sit here with one of their finest cocktails in hand and watch the golden sun go down in summer or cosy up by their outdoor fire in winter with a glass of red.
Aurora – On the top floor of the Melbourne Hotel in Perth’s city centre, Aurora offers beautiful views across the open skyline. Go for their house-distilled gin – Anemoi – and enjoy one with their house shared plate.
Sôl – If you’re stopping by at the SkyCity Casino, be sure to make a trip upstairs to Sôl. The rooftop bar is lively and inviting, with beautiful 270-degree views across the city. Go for sunset on Friday nights to enjoy a live DJ or for bottomless brunch on Sundays.
Hennessy Rooftop Bar – Atop one of Adelaide’s most iconic establishments – The Mayfair Hotel – The Hennessy Rooftop Bar hosts locals and out-of-towners with the most enjoyable views of the Adelaide skyline. Aside from the glorious vistas, their sophisticated cocktails are also a highlight.
Bar Albert – This venue needs no introduction – other than, of course, it’s the highest bar in New Zealand. Sat on the 38th floor and with views stretching across the entire Auckland skyline, Bar Albert deserves a top spot on your summer bar bucket list.
Sunset Bar – With views to match its name, having a bespoke cocktail at Sunset Bar should be at the top of every Aucklander’s to-do list this summer. Views and drinks asides, another highlight of this space is, of course, the Mumbai-inspired kitchen – masala spiced nuts, crispy papadums and vanilla & cardamon parfait provide the perfect accompaniment to your chosen tipple.
Dirty Little Secret – Trust Wellingtonians to think outside the (container) box. Dirty Little Secret is the city’s first container bar, located in the heart of Wellington. Their industrial chic aesthetic was inspired by Melbourne’s laneways and complements their vast selection of craft beers, premium wine, and spirits.
The Arborist – You may need no further convincing to visit other than the fact that The Aborist is sheltered from Wellington’s infamous winds. The space is cute and cosy, with wood-fired pizzas to accompany your Moscow mule.
Bottoms up – responsibly, of course!
It’s time to get your bar-hop list together, prepare for a social sunshine season and hit some of the best spots from Perth to Wellington and everything in between. And if you need some more inspiration, hop over to our Guide to Australia’s Best Cocktail Bars (as voted by us!). Just remember, as always, to enjoy responsibly. Happy sunshine season!