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It’s the rooftop, waterfront bar Sydney has always deserved, but only just received
It’s only once you’re sitting on the beautiful deck of this third-floor cocktail lounge that you realise that it was the missing piece of Sydney’s bar puzzle all along. Until now, we’ve only been playing at being a global, harbourfront city, because our high stakes waterfront drinking was limited to fancy hotels and Opera Bar. And for pre-theatre drinks, there’s still nowhere better than the latter, but we’ve also seen staff members bat seagulls out from the concourse using a drinks tray.
So the Solotel group went and made Opera Bar a suave sister in the form of Smoke – the crowning glory of Barangaroo House. Up here, things are strictly professional. You are greeted at the entranceway, shown to a seat, started a tab and possibly given a time limit until the next booking arrives (they do not follow the finders keepers rules here). Mind you, a kind word to the chic floorstaff in black can result in another table as it becomes available.
All of this careful service makes drinking here feel like more of an event, and not unlike a restaurant experience, so you my as well order up a serve of Wagyu hanger steak skewers plumbed with an iron depth and salty tang and wearing a velvet soft warrigal greens sauce. It’s a steak dinner in under six bites. Skewers of chicken skins cooked until crunchy and seasoned will shame chicken salt into nothing but a memory, and the oysters here are so creamy they’re positively lewd.
Order with confidence from the cocktail menu here. Cool down with the Little Leichhardt, a tall, funtime mix of rose gin, white vermouth, limoncello and blood orange soda capped with a sweet snowball of Campari sorbet. It’s packed with citrus, but all the hard edges are polished to a golden glow. And if you want to be courted by a tequila cocktail, the Smoke’n’Screens will sneak it past you disguised with lime juice, a cherry stain and smoked rosemary. More cocktails are over 20 dollars than under, but they’re made with a finesse that might make you rethink your ten dollar Peroni in a glass only slightly larger than a schmiddy.
Now that we have a rooftop, waterfront cocktail bar of this calibre, it seems madness that we have gone so long without one. Now your only issue is beating the crowds to get the glory seats out in the sunshine for peak Sydney drinking.