Low-rise CBD rooftop bar where the decor is Miami kitsch but the canned seltzers have a refreshingly serious origin. Like many Melbourne bars, it’s good to know what Pomelo rooftop is all about before you ascend the stairs.
Level 3/169 Melbourne Pl, Melbourne, VIC 3000
It’s always a good Friday night out in the city when you spot a rooftop bar that you hadn’t noticed before.
Such was the case a few weeks back when a neon green sign up above street level caught our attention as we strolled up Russell Street. A quick detour through a laneway, in through a heavy metal door, up 3 flights of stairs and we found ourselves at Pomelo Rooftop.
And yep. We’d come in through the back door. Typical.
With pastel pink and green walls, acid green signage and 80s pop playing it was all very Miami Vice and rather surreal. Especially as it was still quite early.
White plastic garden furniture, a couple of strings of fairy lights and a cluster of umbrellas completed the look. A kiosk-style bar at the end of the terrace near the stairs had various drinks on display.
As rooftop bars go, the view is a strange one. You’re in the heart of Melbourne, but not especially high up. Having said that, I have a strong feeling that you could amazing sunset shots of the buildings around you if you were here at the right time.
Now I confess, that when we staggered through the doorway in to Pomelo Rooftop, we weren’t overly impressed.
There were two reasons for this.
Firstly, it was very quiet and lacking a bit of atmosphere. I suspect this was purely a matter of bad timing, having spoken to a couple of other bar-flies who love this venue.
Secondly, we knew nothing about the highly original drinks list. So let’s talk about those drinks.
Our initial thoughts on the bar itself were not overly positive.
A slushy machine was churning an iced blue concoction and there were a range of canned beverages lined up on the counter top.
However, it turns out that those canned drinks are not commercially produced tinnies being flogged at a ridiculous price simply because you’re at a funky rooftop bar. Instead, a number of them have been imagined, prepared and canned by the highly skilled team at Pomelo Rooftop Bar’s sister cocktail bar, Bouvardia. Bouvardia can be found a mere floor below in the same building. And when I say it’s an experimental cocktail bar with an entirely different take on what goes into making a memorable highball, I’m not kidding.
Why not shaker up your own cocktail creations with the BRITOR Cocktail Shaker, Cocktail Set Bartender Kit? It has everything you need to get started and looks chic as well.
Bouvardia is all about sustainability and using every part of an ingredient and this approach feeds into the drinks list at Pomelo Rooftop. So the tinned seltzers for sale up on Level 3 are made from the by-products of the cocktails whipped up on Level 2. They even carbonate and can them themselves.
Friday night drinks really don’t get much more sustainable than that.
Canned libations include the Ms. O’Peel ($18) – a tropical punch of Rum, Lime and Banana Miso. Or there’s the Minor Tom $20) consisting of Vodka, Fermented Passionfruit, Mandarin & Blue Curacao. Incidentally, it’s clearly the little brother of a gob-smacking cocktail called the Major Tom served in Bouvardia downstairs.
And the slushy machine? Upping the kitsch-level, the blades are mixing an icy Blue Lagoon.
Aside from the house-made drinks, there are a number of beers and ciders. A handful are on tap, whilst the rest are in cans. And if you prefer wine, they serve 6 Pet-Nat (Petillant Naturel) bubbles and a few options by the glass.
If you want to see this part of Melbourne from a different aspect, take the lift up to The Rooftop at QT, around the corner.
Pomelo Rooftop is a cute spot to while away an hour or 2.
Get there in as the sun goes down and kick back with a house-produced seltzers as the city tower blocks turn to flame around you.
You’ll be glad to climbed the stairs.