Is there any more Melbourne a drinking configuration than the rooftop bar?
CBD rooftop bars are great, but the neighourhood rooftop bar might just be even better. Uninterrupted city views? Check. Hassle-free parking? Check. General merrymaking on top of a building? Absolutely check.
There are more than you think, too: here are some of our favourites.
Johnny’s Green Room
King & Godfree has served the good people of Lygon Street for 150 years, but only since recently has it served them from the top floor. The original Johnny’s was a place for “musicians, artists, gangsters and students who mingled at all hours, playing pool and eating cotoletta and lasagne in a place where the party never ended”. The party mightn’t run right through the night anymore, but a session at Johnny’s is every bit as tasty: an easy-going menu of snacks, burgers and pizza complementing a good-time cocktail list and a good whack of Victorian wines. Here’s Johnny.
Johnny’s Green Room, Level 2/293-297 Lygon St, Carlton, johnnysgreenroom.com
Kensington’s already on a hill, so if you can get yourself to a rooftop on that hill you’ll be looking at one of the more enviable views of Melbourne. Rick’s Place is one such spot to enjoy that view, with an uncomplicated, family-friendly menu spanning brunch through dinner and a favourably priced drinks list keeping the vibes sky-high. Note: Rick’s also sells “man cave” paraphernalia – Holden signage and the like. Do with that information what you will.
Rick’s Place, 507 Macaulay Rd, Kensington, ricksplace.com.au
Ascend to the top of the Marriott Melbourne Docklands Hotel and prepare to get fancy and fabulous in the order of your choosing. You want Sunset Slings? They’re yours. Salt and vinegar rosti with shaved wagyu whipped roe? Coming right up. Sunset House mightn’t be on the roof itself, but there’s only one roof above it, and given the sky’s-the-limit quality of its offering, this list would be incomplete without it. A great way to experience this brand-new hotel.
Melbourne Marriott Docklands Hotel, 15 Waterfront Way, Docklands, docklandshotels.com.au
Rooftops are great, hidden rooftops are better. Above Jimmy Watson’s lies Wolf’s Lair: a private rooftop oasis on the corner of Lygon and Elgin Streets. Brightly painted lanterns and astroturf mean this Carlton mainstay is more twee sky garden than lair, but in our experience that’s generally a positive thing. Order pizza and wine from Jimmy’s, pull up a cute bench seat and acquaint yourself with one of the more secluded, lighthearted outdoor setups in the inner north.
Wolf’s Lair, Jimmy Watson Ln, Carlton
The Prince Alfred Hotel
Slap a rooftop bar on an old uni student local and you have a recipe for boundless fun and frivolity. The PA has kept undergraduate thirsts at bay for almost 100 years, but it’s been doing it in newfangled style since undergoing a wholesale glow-up in 2018. Beers, burgers and general pubby good times are the modus operandi here, and as you might’ve guessed, they’re best enjoyed from the roof.
191 Grattan St, Carlton, www.princealfred.com
By Frank Sweet