Brisbane is famous for its days and days of sunshine and those in the know have realised that its bars, too, are best in the open air with al fresco cocktails the talk of the town.
The last couple of years in Brisbane have seen local bars come out into the light – literally. The city’s rooftops are the place to be when it’s time to meet up with friends or sample the subtropical cocktails served up by Brisbane’s finest mixologists. From Fortitude Valley to the city centre, these on-trend bars are taking it to the top.
This isn’t so much a rooftop bar but a bar that is perched at the top of the entire city. On the 30th floor of the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Brisbane’s highest bar, Sazerac, is literally taking the city’s rooftop bar scene to a whole new level. Once the hotel’s gym, this is a brand-new haven for cocktail lovers with such tipples as a salted caramel martini or the pisco-based, fairy floss-topped sugarplum fairy and the signature Sazerac which includes Peychaud's bitters and absinthe.
Sometimes it’s the location that makes the bar, and The Pool Terrace & Bar couldn’t be more central. For retail hounds who want to make a day of it along Queen Street Mall, this is the spot for a mid-shopping cocktail and even a dip in the 21-metre (69-foot) infinity swimming pool. You’ll find it on level four of Next Hotel, but the open-air pool terrace is not just for hotel guests; locals love to people watch from this perch above the mall, and when the sun goes down, the bar hosts fabulous parties that call for high heels rather than swimming gear. Don’t miss the sumptuous food menu, featuring sticky pulled pork tacos and kingfish sashimi.
If you find yourself south of the city, then South Bank’s Soleil Pool Bar will have you cooling off by the pool in stylish surrounds. Stretch out on the lounges for an instant poolside party, helped along by smooth DJs, knowledgeable bar staff and a glamorous crowd. Try a garden tea – it’s like a high tea but with share plates, Champagne, Pimm’s or beer. Sunday afternoons are popular but the bar is also a great spot for a pre-dinner drink before heading to the award-winning restaurant Bacchus, also here on the Podium Level of Rydges Hotel.
A kind of super-venue in the rock’n’roll neighbourhood of Fortitude Valley, Alfred & Constance is filled with multiple themed bars that mean you can have a day, or a night, out bar hopping and never leave the venue. Upstairs is a retro, fun-filled space that pays tribute to the Polynesian-style tiki bar, with a bright yellow grand piano, an interior filled with artificial grass and ferns and a cocktail menu that screams "tropical". Share a rum-based scorpion bowl with a friend, or try a zombie punch by yourself. This may be a rooftop bar but, with every space filled with paraphernalia, it feels very cosy.
Even on a rare cloudy day, the sun shines brightly at Dandy’s, thanks to a vibrant colour scheme and playground mentality. Atop the hip Fox Hotel, a much-loved place right on Fish Lane in South Brisbane, you’ll be unable to resist Instagramming the AstroTurfed, multi-hued space among the striped umbrellas, fiesta-toned lights and a young, cheerful crowd. Snack on meat skewers, pizzas and breads, sip on colourful cocktails and local craft beers, and dance to DJ tunes.
The Rooftop Bar at Limes Hotel claims to be Brisbane's first rooftop bar. Lounge on sofas under the shade-covers during sunny afternoons, or jump into one of the two small plunge pools and watch a movie on the bar’s cinema nights. The cocktail list has always been famous, but the frosé, made of rosé, strawberry and citrus juices, may be the best drink of all to enjoy on a balmy evening out.