This open-air drinks spot, aptly named Library Bar, sits atop the State Library of NSW’s historic Mitchell Building. Once a staff cafe and, more recently, an unused space collecting debris under the sun, the rooftop opened in 2021 to give the public the chance to enjoy its panoramic Domain and harbour views.
Granting newfound access to a previously hidden section of the State Library, and taking inspiration from tucked-away CBD boozers like Old Mate’s Place and The Baxter Inn, it’s only fitting that patrons enter the hidden bar in dramatic fashion: find the secret entry on Hospital Road, head through a grungy corridor and up through an old goods lift to find a 120-capacity space divided into three sections.
First is an indoor bar area with timber walls surrounding a classic zinc bar top and a baby grand piano. The instrument sits on top of an old lift shaft, encircled by plush cocktail chairs, banquette seating and small bar tables.
Next is an outdoor courtyard area with plenty of chairs and tables for sipping cocktails under umbrellas and fairy lights. And finally, for the best spot in the house, walk up the staircase to the observation deck, with standing high tables and abundant views.
Order from a small grazing menu of snacks and platters showcasing local producers: chargrilled vegetables from Marrickville’s Two Providores, cured meats from Wetherill Park’s Joe Papandrea and cheeses from The Pines Kiama and Wyong’s Little Creek Cheese.
As for drinks, the rotating tap and bottle beer range exclusively features local crafties, with breweries such as Newtown’s Young Henrys, Camperdown’s Wayward and Glebe’s Staves all getting look-ins. Wines also predominantly come from local regions, with a couple of South Australian and French drops thrown in for good measure.
Likewise, the cocktail list uses NSW spirits and ingredients wherever possible. Make sure to try the Library Martini, a concoction of Rosebery’s Archie Rose gin and the Hunter Valley’s Margan vermouth, served with Alto olives grown in the Southern Highlands. Or the refreshing Belafonte Spritz, made with Sydney’s Ester gin, lemon, sherry, sparkling wine and lemon myrtle.