The Runner Up rooftop bar is located above the Collingwood Yards arts precinct and community space. Stepping inside this casual drinking spot is like being in a sleeker version of your creative mate’s sharehouse – full of random artwork, reclaimed vintage furniture and custom-made pieces, and stacks of house plants
The eclectic and laid-back feel marries well with the Collingwood Yards ethos. Downstairs, you’ll find some minimalist and clean art spaces run by well-established artists. But at Runner Up, it feels like the younger creatives have taken over and made this rooftop their own.
Take the small cocktail menu, for instance. You’ve got a variety of spritzes, all of which are just that little bit different. Substitute the usual Aperol for Limoncello, and you get a whole new fresh and citrusy summer tipple. It’s super simple. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here – just changing it up a little.
Take the Australiano, an Aussie version of the classic Americano cocktail. Traditionally, it’s made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water, but Runner Up substitutes the Campari for Okra amaro. This bitter liqueur is infused with Australian botanicals, giving the cocktail a unique aromatic kick. It’s a nice local touch. Another easy adjustment comes with substituting the usual egg whites in sours for the vegan-friendly aquafaba.
Reasonably priced beers and an extensive wine list round the drinking menu out. We wish they had more bar snacks, but loved the dolmades served right from the can. Yeah, it’s all quite hipster, but it seems to have been done very honestly. They aren’t trying too hard up here.
And while the drinks menu is a modest success, Runner Up’s original panoramic views of North Melbourne have sadly been blocked by new building developments. Instead of seeing this as a spot to come to and look out over Melbourne, think of it more of a way to escape it all.
You are far removed from everything else up here – especially as Runner Up is kind of hard to find. You need to dart through Collingwood Yards’ corridors to find a small terrace with an elevator which takes you up to the rooftop. This makes Runner Up a proper hidden gem – a place to be discovered, not stumbled upon.
Don’t go to the Runner Up rooftop bar for expansive views over North Melbourne, go for the relaxed vibe, good tunes, curated cocktails and – on a hot day – heavenly water misters.