Sydney has some pretty spectacular bodies of water, both on its fringes and running straight through it. And we have plenty of well-positioned bars (Coogee Pavilion, Icebergs and Opera Bar, for example) making the most of them. But bars actually on the water? Those are few and far between. Aiming to correct this is the newly launched Glass Island, a three-level bar on a boat that will roam the harbour until the end of April.
It’s the work of entrepreneur Scott Robertson, who also founded one of Sydney’s other boat-based bars, Seadeck. “Finding a three-level venue with a mind-blowing view of Sydney Harbour in itself would be an exciting prospect for anyone,” he tells Broadsheet, “let alone a venue with the ability to cruise around the harbour with 360-degree panoramic views. Sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House will never get old for me.”
This time around, Robertson says he looked past the fact that Glass Island is a boat, and instead took inspiration from upper-crust overseas venues such as Soho House. It’s been designed by Alex Zabotto-Bentley, the founder of Sydney design firm AZBCreative (The Cumberland, Mjølner, Kittyhawk, who has given each of the three decks a different theme. The top deck was inspired by the Mediterranean, with orange and white umbrellas and fabrics, and a load of lush greenery.
Stepping into the glass-walled middle deck is like finding yourself poolside at a Miami resort. There’s a seven-metre-long tiled bar at one end, and a blue-and-white theme throughout. And the bottom level is a handsome champagne and cocktail den, which has a rotating selection of natural wine you won’t find at any of the other bars onboard.
In fact, each level has a different drinks menu. Up top the focus is on variations of the spritz, such as the Amalfi Spritz (Campari, pinot gris and soda water) and the Glass Island Spritz (Pampelle, Campari and prosecco). The middle bar focuses on fresh, summery cocktails such as the Beach Baby (Pampero Blanco white rum, lychee, passionfruit, lime and vanilla) and the Tequila Eastside (Don Julio Blanco tequila, lime, cucumber and mint).
Robertson says the bulk of the food menu is made to be shared. There’s a selection of flatbread pizzas and sliders, as well as Moreton Bay bug rolls, charcuterie and cheese boards.
The boat will be heading out on Saturdays, Sundays and some Fridays, and each cruising session will have guest DJs including Yolanda Be Cool (February 16) and Colour Castle (February 29). On the first Sunday of every month, Glass Island will host Sneaky Sound System’s Sneaky Sundays party. The boat has a state-of-the art sound system installed across all three levels to ensure its world-class roster of DJs aren’t drowned out by the noises of the harbour.
Glass Island is now open until April, when it will sail up to Brisbane before returning to Sydney in October. Buy tickets here.