Summer is always a welcome revelation, but this year, even more so. With lockdown behind us, it’s time to reconnect with friends and celebrate just being out and about. Literally out, because who wants to eat and drink indoors when you can commune with the open air as the sun hangs overhead?

Here are some of the most distinctive al fresco dining spots to sip an Aperol spritz in Sydney.

Overlooking crystal-clear blue water, the umbrella-dotted terrace at Bondi institution Icebergs gives you a front-row seat to the ocean. Famous for lavish New Year’s Day parties and hand-stirred Martinis, this popular oasis features a more casual menu on the terrace than in its indoor dining room, pairing casual staples like burgers and fish’n’chips with fresh seafood (including East 33 Sydney rock oysters) and traditional Italian pasta and salads. There’s also a short menu for Sunday brunch. Whatever your approach, the combination of seaside air and a summer-ready cocktail can’t be beat, which explains why Icebergs is still in high demand after almost two decades.

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The Royal Hotel
A longtime corner destination for footy and parmis, Paddington’s multi-faceted The Royal Hotel has a rooftop bar with a retractable roof for al fresco lounging any time of year. There’s also enviable seating on the second level’s wraparound terrace. The menu is all about elevated pub fare, with Middle Eastern-style cauliflower steak sitting pretty next to Japanese-influenced pork schnitzel and hefty cuts of steak – plus wings, sliders and other share plates to pass around. The sun-soaked outdoor seating makes spritzes a firm favourite, as well as the Paddy’s Prince cocktail, which mingles Aperol with Belvedere vodka, fresh passionfruit, jasmine tea syrup, mint and lime.

Bar Ombré
Love a bargain? Bar Ombré’s weekday aperitivo hour means your choice of five spritzes for just $12 between 4pm and 6pm. Start with the classic Aperol Spritz before exploring the refreshing fruity and floral twists on the formula – all while taking in the lush rooftop bar of the Gateway building (above SMC’s Circular Quay location). Pizzas anchor the food menu, and live music is a regular attraction. The bar’s Italian pedigree extends beyond the pizzas and aperitifs: co-owners Edoardo Perlo and Stefano De Biasi (ex-Salt Meats Cheeses) bring their heritage to everything from arancini and chef’s lasagne to the bountiful antipasto spread, including aged and hand-stretched cheeses.

The Rook
Hiding away atop a York Street office building is The Rook, a roomy, laidback spot that prioritises cocktails and a sprawling liquor selection. The skyline awaits all around, with a retractable roof providing cover when needed. At least five different spritzes liven up the cocktail list. As for eats, The Rook leans into comfort food – from duck tostadas and bolognaise arancini, to lobster rolls and soft-shell crab burgers. Look forward to plenty of vegetarian options, plus playful desserts such as butterscotch-drizzled doughnut fries and a banoffee pie with an Oreo base.

The Oaks Hotel
Bars don’t come much more aptly named than The Oaks Hotel, whose beer garden indeed wraps around a prodigious oak tree that’s more than 70 years old. That alone makes this Neutral Bay pub a destination, with ample shade for the sprawling wealth of outdoor seating. Home to a bar and grill as well as Taffy’s Sports Bar, and the brunch and cocktail-friendly Alala’s, there’s something for everyone here. Spritzes and sparklings make a robust showing on the menus throughout, while The Oaks’ main bar slings generous Aperol Spritz jugs that are ideal for sharing under that leafy canopy.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Aperol. With 100,000 Aperol Spritzes up for grabs this summer to help celebrate being together again, find out how to claim yours.