You don't truly know a city until you've gazed at it from afar with a stiff drink in hand. Those aren't the words of any philosopher of note – just a simple mantra I've always adhered to on my travels.
Fortunately, finding a decent vantage point from which to enjoy a fine beverage is becoming easier and easier in this country of ours. Bar entrepreneurs are aiming higher, in more ways than one.
Rooftop spaces and other unused nooks continue to open up, unearthing some never-before-savoured vistas. Some spots you may have written off as overpriced tourist traps have even brought serious drinking and dining into the bargain.
Sydney may lead the way in terms of natural assets, but Melbourne arguably has the country's most diverse collection of rooftop bars, a tradition that other cities around Australia are finally embracing. Bars with a view needn't be sky-high however – some of the best simply offer a new perspective on our cities.
Pew with a view
Enjoy our selection of Australia's best bars with a backdrop. May they continue to soar.
O Bar and Dining – Sydney, NSW
The latest iteration of a revolving bar atop the Harry Siedler-designed Australia Square building, O Bar offers spectacular views of the city's finest assets from a 47th-floor position. There are DJs on Friday and Saturday night and it's a great place to take a health-conscious dinner date too: chef and owner Michael Moore is renowned for his healthy eating philosophy.
360 Bar & Dining – Sydney, NSW
The most recent of Sydney's two revolving bars, sitting astride the city's tallest building, Sydney Tower. It's 305 metres above sea level, with sweeping views of the city's skyline and into the distance. You'll best enjoy them with a cocktail or a glass of champagne.
Lui Bar at Vue de Monde – Melbourne, VIC
French dining stalwart Vue de Monde relocated from Carlton to the 55th floor of the Rialto in 2011. With it came the inception of Lui, a sophisticated bar offering spectacular views over Melbourne, as well as deluxe drinks and snacks.
Blu Bar on 36 – Sydney, NSW
Situated high in the Shangri-La Hotel in the heart of The Rocks, Blu Bar offers breathtaking views of Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, with a formidable drinks offer to match. There's craft beer, starting with the pale ale from local outfit Rocks Brewing on draught, while an extensive cocktail list includes luxury items such as The Balvenie 30-Year-Old Fashion ($160).
Eleven Rooftop Bar – Fortitude Valley, QLD
Perched 11 stories above Brisbane's notorious nightlife precinct Fortitude Valley, Eleven Rooftop Bar boasts impressive 270-degree views of the locale plus the CBD and surrounds. A cocktail list geared towards the classics provides the perfect accompaniment.
Seventy7 Cafe & Bar – Surfers Paradise, QLD
The Q1 skyscraper's status as the world's tallest residential building was rudely topped in 2011, but it still towers over the Gold Coast. Find Seventy7 that number of floors up, with 360-degree views of the ocean, the city and beyond.
The Glenmore – Sydney, NSW
It used to be Sydney's best-kept secret, a place to enjoy million-dollar views of Circular Quay with a cheap schooner in hand. It's since been refurbished and the food and beverage offer taken up a notch. That may have brought with it the crowds, but this remains one of the city's finest rooftops.
Naked In The Sky – Fitzroy, VIC
'Best rooftop bar' is a hotly contested title in Melbourne, but Fitzroy's Naked makes a very strong case. Choose a backdrop of either city views or Brunswick Street as you sample the Spanish-inspired menu, best enjoyed with a glass of sherry.
The Theatre Bar At The End Of The Wharf – Sydney, NSW
With a cool industrial fitout and sensational views of The Coathanger, TTBATEOTW offers much more than just the city's most cumbersome bar moniker. There's food and beverage creations inspired by Sydney Theatre Company productions, but it's well worth seeking out even if you're not seeing a show.
Summit Restaurant & Bar – Brisbane, QLD
Part of the Brisbane Lookout complex aloft scenic Mt Coot-tha, Summit has panoramic views of Brisbane City and Moreton Bay during daylight hours. By night you can take in the city lights with a drink on the open front deck, or graduate inside for one of Brissie's most upmarket dining experiences.
2KW Bar & Restaurant - Adelaide, SA
It takes two elevators to reach the eighth floor rooftop of the heritage building where the $4.5 million 2KW opened late in 2014. The view is Adelaide's finest, encompassing nearly every iconic building in the city, with some of the city's top gastronomic authorities curating the food and drink.
The Glass House - Hobart, TAS
Opened in 2015 at the end of Brooke Street Pier, The Glass House might not win in the altitude stakes, but the vista is arguably Hobart's finest. Floor-to-ceiling windows display 280-degree views across Sullivan's Cove. A Tasmania-centric wine list and local whiskies are the perfect foil for Iron Chef star Kinsan's menu.