With the heat of summer in full glare, naturally the nation flocks to the sunniest spot it can find to sip a shandy and kiss a stranger. Enter the rooftop bar. The six below are Sydney's top spots for an al fresco tipple, but a word of the warning to non-smokers: you may find yourself outnumbered. If you're prone to passive aggressive coughing in the direction of happy-go-lucky strikers then best stay in the bistro (unless you happen to be eating or pregnant and someone sparks up in the immediate vicinity - then by all means give 'em what for).
Downstairs it's Joey's-grad rugby heads. The rooftop, however, has one of the Big Smoke's best views. The harbour sparkles, the Opera House sails are billowed enough to launch a spinnaker and The Toaster viewed in full glory is as abhorrent as ever. Want a table up here after 5pm? Good luck with that, although if you do snag one, the bar menu isn't bad and a cone of plump and salty squid ($14) demands a cold Fat Yak in the sun.
Details: 96 Cumberland St, The Rocks, theglenmore.com.au
Sure, Ivy has a number of naysayers but you know what? At around three in the arvo, the heat's subsiding, everyone else is at work and you're in a ROOFTOP POOL in the middle of the city, what's the problem? Poolside pizza with a chewy base, pulpy sauce and thick discs of buffalo mozzarella are satisfying for every of their 10-or-so inches and you can grab a takeaway box for any leftover slices (everyone knows next-day-hangover-pizza from the fridge is amazing). If you're in need of a little more sun protection, there are enough Camilla kaftans floating around to fashion together a lovely shade cloth.
Details: Level 4, 320 George Street, Sydney, merivale.com.au/poolclub
As wise Custard sage Dave McCormack once noted, the Inner West has all the beautiful girls. Quite a few of them are perched on this rooftop sinking Young Henry's and ashing rollies of Champion Ruby. The decor is share-house meets pioneer-funpark so pints and Melbourne Bitter tinnies are the go (pints are $5 between 5pm and 7pm, by the way). Want a summer cocktail? Stick to Ivy Pool.
The list here is dry and rye heavy. $5 nachos are popular on Tuesdays when pencil-jeaned penny-pinchers stuff their gobs with corn chips.
Details: 153A King St, Newtown, corridorbar.com.au
The Local Taphouse
There's not much in the way of views at The Local Taphouse (unless 3-metre walls and fairy lights are your thing) but there is one of the best selections of beer in the state. While craft beer is now as common in pubs as Resch's posters of blokes grapple-tackling each other, these guys offer a behemoth selection of ales, lagers, pilsners, porters, bocks, ciders, stouts and big-hitting saisons to sample. There's some booze-friendly food to go with all this brown stuff: a fist-sized beef burger ($12) provides enough lining to go another round. Summer sees the return of Silent Cinema where 10 bucks gets you a ticket, drink and headphone rentals so you can watch Star Trek under the actual stars in peace.
Details: 122 Flinders St, Darlinghurst, thelocal.com.au
Sweethearts Rooftop BBQ
When it's your turn to host a summer barbecue sausage-fest but you don't want the clean-up, Sweethearts can help. For $45pp (for groups of six or more) you get a longtable's worth of salads, salmon, smoky chicken skewers and chips as fat as a giant's thumb. Keystone group's penchant for pouring cask wine from taps (read: Newtown Hotel) is questionable but it kind of works among the backyard barbie-ness. Members of the Napoleon Perdis Loyalty Scheme pack the joint quickly so book ahead.
Details: 33/37 Darlinghurst Rd, Potts Point, sweetheartsbbq.com.au
The Ivanhoe Hotel
Seems the designers of The Ivanhoe's makeover were hell-bent on destroying any links to the hotel's mediaeval novel namesake. Here it's all bright Havana whites, softly hued timbers and big tropical stag horns. Cane lobster nets provide rooftop shade while still letting sunlight pepper through the gaps and there's an area sans nets for those after a bit more melanin with their fish burger ($13.50). It's a pub-food-by-numbers menu but there's value to be had in a half-kilo bucket of prawns ($25) or a dozen Sydney rock oysters for 32 clams.
Details: 27 The Corso, Manly, ivanhoehotelmanly.com.au
The Pyrmont Bridge Hotel (96 Union St, Pyrmont) for its 24-hour licence so you can cast your own net on the roof as nearby fishermen are bringing theirs in. The Royal Hotel (237 Glenmore Road, Paddington) represents in the east and if in Newcastle over the summer The Terrace Bar (529 Hunter St, Newcastle West) has a spacious rooftop to knock back longnecks and ogle the strip club alleyway next door. And here's a nod to Sweeney's (236 Clarence Street, Sydney) where kids from the nearby Gaffa Gallery have long been burning carbs on those never-ending stairs to the summit.