The Imperial Hotel has a prime CBD location (on the corner of Bourke and Spring Streets). Despite this, the around-the-clock pub and its multiple sport screens might not have been on your radar.
But this week, Melbourne’s third-oldest watering hole has undergone an al fresco facelift and opened a new rooftop beer garden, just in time for summer.
The new Imperial Rooftop Beer Garden is one of the largest rooftop bars in Melbourne, spanning 185 square metres: enough room to host 270 patrons. Guests can gaze upon Parliament House and Treasury Gardens and 360-degree views of the city skyline.
Let’s be real. Melbourne isn’t short of rooftop playgrounds. Nearby, Madame Brussels provides its guests with a lofty garden party. Loop Roof blends post-modern decor with an earthy, floral drinks menu. Rooftop cinemas are also on the rise. In 2015 the LIDO cinema roof has opened. And then there’s always the long-standing veteran, Rooftop Cinema.
But the Imperial isn’t trying to prove anything. It’s hoping to pull in a crowd similar to the downstairs, sport-focused venue. “We wanted to create a venue that didn’t differentiate too much from what we already offer,” Barnes says. “We want to make a comfortable, casual space.” Still, a giant rooftop beer garden in one of the best spots in the city isn’t going to hurt the pub’s chances of drawing a new crowd.
The food offering will focus on lighter, hand-held options, rather than the heartier pub offering downstairs. Chef Justin Wise has crafted a menu that includes Big Earl’s onion rings with barbeque sauce, jalapeno poppers, and chicken ribs marinated in XO sauce, ginger and garlic. The menu also features a selection of Cuban sandwiches and burgers.
The Imperial Rooftop Beer Garden is offering free entry to the rooftop on New Year’s Eve: the perfect point from which to watch the city-wide fireworks bring in 2016.
The Imperial Rooftop Beer Garden is situated on the corners of Bourke and Spring Streets, Melbourne, and is open until 11pm on weekdays and 1am over the weekend.
Check out Broadsheet’s guide to rooftop bar offerings in Melbourne.