Rooftop bars have become a beacon of hospitality popularity in recent years, both in Brisbane, and the world over.
Prior to the previous ten years, the rooftops of buildings were reserved mainly for antennae, ladders, and various equipment of the ventilation/air conditioning variety.
But then came along the phenomenon of the rooftop bar.
Thinking way back, one of the pioneering and still enduring rooftop bars is Madame Brussels on Bourke Street in Melbourne. A novel and relatively small rooftop space with little in the way of food, but plenty in the way of Pimms and cocktails presented in a fun retro English tennis club theme.
Times have moved on and far from being the novelty, Brisbane rooftop bars are now sought after for casual visits and hosting impressive functions.
So why choose a Brisbane rooftop bar for your function?
First and foremost, rooftop bars generally offer spectacular views. No matter how good the décor is in your favourite drinking hole, there’s nothing quite like taking in a sunset with a sweeping city and or water view from a perch.
A rooftop venue for a function adds a special third dimension to your party. Even function venues with impressive sea or river views often miss out on the 3rd dimension – that of height.
Then of course there is the outdoor element. Many venues feature beautiful outdoor areas to enjoy good food and entertainment. A rooftop bar brings in the added appeal of a view to talk about.
Rooftop bars enjoy popularity in entertainment precincts because they can offer an element of uniqueness in a street of similar bars and restaurants.
On top of all this, roof top bars the world over are written about and admired with more than just a sprinkle of prestige. The most highly reviewed bars in the world are rooftop bars (just a few are listed below). Some of this prestige will no doubt rub off on your function party guests.
Weather Protection: By nature, rooftop bars are more susceptible to the elements. No doubt you are planning to book your function some time out so it is unlikely you can reliably predict the weather. Make sure you check with the venue what cover they have for the various functions spaces they can offer you to ensure your whole party can remain entertained whilst being kept dry.
Entry: The feeling of being invited to an event of prestige is definitely heightened with an exclusive entry. This feeling is definitely diminished if the lift stops at multiple office floors below the main event. Perhaps it has its own staircase? If applicable, check how accessible both the access and the function areas are for wheelchairs.
Exclusive Areas: – A restaurant can sometimes offer you a private dining room including views. But a rooftop function area may not offer you such privacy without hiring the whole venue.
Views: Check with the booking manager the area(s) being set aside for your party has nice views and you are not tucked away in a corner of the venue.
Restaurant and Food Capability: Sometimes food is secondary to the drinks menu at a rooftop bar. Does the rooftop venue you are considering have a dedicated kitchen? Carefully scrutinise the food offerings and if this is an important factor for your function, make sure you are not compromising this for the views.
Brisbane has evolved along with a vibrant and contemporary hospitality scene closely following suit.
This evolution from Brisbane, the big country town, has brought with it some awesome rooftop bars.
Here are some of the best rooftop bars in Brisbane:
Elixir Rooftop Bar: Right in the heart of Fortitude Valley, it is a newcomer featuring wooden décor surrounded by lush plants. This rooftop venue has an inside function room and an outdoor area known as the Elixir Garden of Enchantment. The espresso martinis under the starry sky are a must if your function rolls over into the evening.
Eleven Rooftop Bar: This is the new benchmark for rooftop bars in Brisbane. The views are simply stunning and the décor has been carefully articulated to cement its reputation as the place to be seen. The kitchen here serves some of the best food in Brisbane to compliment the stunning views. Amy, the functions manager here is very competent and will help you arrange a function sure to impress.
Fitz and Potts: This is how the suburbs do it! A retro inspired wrap around balcony at Nundah with a few different rooms and nooks and crannies. Some descriptors for the décor you will encounter here are: velvet, astro-turf, paisley wallpaper and macramé. It is delightfully eclectic and run by a lovely couple who welcome friendly, but restrained dogs.
Dandy: Again the food is not compromised at this South Brisbane rooftop venue with a dedicated char grill kitchen. Decked out with a colourful urban backyard feel it can cater for up to 400 guests if you reserve the whole venue. It is quite a large space with 2 private bars and excellent AV capabilities.
Surely Bangkok has the highest concentration of Rooftop bars in the world? And the Sky Bar is one of the best – and highest of these at nearly 250 metres above the street level. On a clear day, it is VERY busy, but the 360 degree views make it worth the hustle and bustle. If it looks familiar, it was featured in The Hangover II movie. Located quite close to the Chao Phraya River it is possibly the best view in and of the city. It’s cocktail list is delightfully unusual. Although the locals aren’t too thrilled with the depiction of their people and city in the movie, they tilt their hats to it with the “Hangovertini”. Written up regularly in the likes of The New York Times in the USA and Harper’s Bazaar in the UK, it has been hailed as “The most stunning rooftop bar you will ever see”.
A jewel in the Trump Hotels crown. Spectacular views of the Chicago River and the Wrigley Clocktower with fireworks twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The custom made furniture takes advantage of the views with surrounding glass balustrades. Food from the kitchen includes a huge list of sliders, ceviches, skewers & salads. Extensive cocktail list.
One of the busiest places to be in Shanghai is also one of the most exclusive. It is on top of the Ritz-Carlton. Its external areas lie on split-level terraces with leather sofas. Inside is lit with chandeliers to deliver a mood complimenting the warm velvet and leather décor. An extensive food menu is modern Asian featuring small plates of expensive seafood – think Lobster and Alaskan Crab. Featured also are exposed timber beams. Impressive views directly across to the big ball of the Pearl Tower, the Bund, the Hongkou shore and to downtown Puxi.
With its perched position atop the jagged rocks of Jimbaran’s coast, it has earned the reputation as the world’s best rooftop bar to watch amazing sunsets. The Rock Bar hosts international DJs who play from a booth carved right out of the rock face. The whole experience is 5 star, but on top of this is the VIP Round Deck which juts out and above the main balcony on a natural rock feature. This venue is not so much about the food but more so the cocktails. They are prepared with the best of international liquors combined with the best local produce and herbs.
Recognised not only one of New York City’s best rooftop bars, but indeed the world’s. Views are panoramic Manhattan Midtown and the Hudson River. Inside is glass-walled and outside has a feature reflecting pool which accentuates to night lights of the city. Floor to ceiling glass for the available interior areas ensure the view is maximised from every vantage point. A wonderful selection of cocktails and a good wine list.
Arguably Rome’s best vantage point in the heart of the city (behind Piazza Navona) for views of the Vatican and Rome’s historical centre. A perfect blend of Roman tradition and contemporary Italian style. The food is extensive and very accommodating of all dietary variations but unusually for rooftop bars, the extensive wine list is the hero. Perfect to enjoy a Roman sunset.