Melbourne’s rooftop bars are definitely an aspect of the cities hospitality scene that have made the city the food destination it is. I have been watching with great interest the growth in these venues since Madame Brussels opened on a Bourke Street rooftop in the mid 2000’s.
They offer awesome city and river views, dining options and cocktail menus that range from all time classics to innovative. They really are outstanding Melbourne food experiences. I’ve worked with a lot of these venues on our Melbourne After Dark tours and they are massively popular. As witnessed by the long queues for those who missed a booking. So stay in touch with each of them for opening hours and bookings.
This is a personal list of places I know well and can highly recommend.
Enjoy – Allan Campion
I have to start this list with Madame Brussels, the Melbourne rooftop bar which set the scene for great cocktails, service with style, the best dressed staff in town, true personality and of course, rooftop views. Hospitality gurus Vernon Chalker and Miss Pearls are the founders and they set a standard others have been chasing ever since. Book a table on the rather fancy terrace at Madame Brussels, order glamorous cocktails by the jug, platters of perfectly made chicken sandwiches and enjoy true hospitality in the Melbourne Style. There is a rather naughty element to Madame Brussels that we love (which is no surprise considering its named after a famous brothel from Melbourne’s gold rush era.). So leave your inhibitions on Bourke Street and take the elevator to this cocktail bar with a slightly naughty personality!
Rooftop bar views can be expansive and sweeping across city skylines, harbours and rivers. But sometimes the view can be very tight, architectural and limited to a specific vista. Siglo rooftop bar is a case in point with the view looking across Spring Street to the tree tops of Parliament Gardens park, the spires of St Patrick’s cathedral and Parliament House. The rooftop is enclosed on one side by The Princess Theatre with its stunningly restored dome.
It’s quite a setting and a large retractable roof ensures all weather usage. There’s great cocktails (naturally), plus outstanding food and wine. This comes as Siglo is a part of the European restaurant empire, so they have access to incredible wines, spirits, cheese and hospitality expertise. Siglo is a real favourite of mine and should be on your to- do list, book in soon!
This is a rooftop location I’ve spent ample time on and would happily down tools virtually any time to have a drink here. It’s perched on the rooftop of Curtin House, which is slap bang in the middle of Swanston Street (Melbourne’s main thoroughfare). Being situated seven floors up brings extensive 360 city views, with a particularly good overview of Swanston Street north and South.
You can walk up the wide stone staircase of Curtin House, or wait for a lift. I highly recommend the first option as walking will showcase the hidden gems of the building. Kind of like Melbourne itself, it reveals its self on foot. There’s the outstanding Cookie Thai restaurant, bookshops dedicated to architecture and design, plus the Kung Fu academy, a record shop and a mix of independent fashion labels. No matter how you proceed it’s all about the rooftop and its tap beers, easy cocktails, the Rooftop Burger Shack, Summer cinema …. and the views.
I’ll never forget the tour group we met at Essendon Airport a few years back. An extended family of 12 guests aged from 80 to around 14. We’re talking a private jet and deluxe hotels. These guys travelled in real style. We only had a few hours to show them Melbourne, so we did a quick Chinatown discovery walk, talked about the city’s history, tasted farmhouse cheese at Spring Street and then up to the Bomba rooftop Bar. And boy, what a welcome.
Nothing was too much trouble with age appropriate mocktails, stunning wines and a list of craft beers. Food flowed too with marinated olives, wafer thin jamon, baked chorizo, crispy croquettes and seafood paella. Bomba offered beautiful hospitality to this group, and I’ve experienced it many times since with friends.
I’m a huge fan of Bomba and I will happily tell everyone I meet to get on up the this Lonsdale Street rooftop to experience outstanding Melbourne hospitality (with a Spanish touch) from above.
Ok, so I’ll own up to being a huge fan of Union Electric, even before it had a rooftop and was a laneway bar tucked away in Chinatown. A true engineering feat meant they added a rooftop to float over the original ground floor bar. And the rooftop Gin Garden was born! Drinks at Union Electric are often rum focused (downstairs) or gin focused (Upstairs in the garden). Staff here are exceptional and rock Hawaiian shirts like no one else.
Not sure what to order? Maybe kick off with a Lola cocktail, an award-winning combination of Coco Lopez Coconut Cream, Ginger, Pineapple, Pierre Ferrand Curacao, Bombay Sapphire Gin. My other favourite at Union Electric is the Sample pale ale on tap. This team also took out Victorian Bar of the Year at Bartender Magazine awards 2019, so it’s not just my opinion. These guys are real Melbourne hospitality professionals and offer exceptional drinks and service.