Sitting down to a limoncello-spiked Margarita and some caviar on a rooftop with views across the city skyline sounds pretty ideal right now. And that’s exactly what’s on offer at Sky Bar, the new rooftop bar at Shell House – the monumental CBD redevelopment of The Menzies Hotel by Point Group (The Dolphin, Fort Denison).
The group has enlisted executive chef Joel Bickford (ex-Aria) and head chef Aaron Ward (ex-Sixpenny) to lead the food menus across the building’s four venues. All are driven by local produce and loosely beholden to European flavours and techniques.
“We want it to be a very social, fun place [where] you can come once a week or once a year – whatever you like,” Bickford tells Broadsheet. The venue is the second to open in the development, following Menzies Bar in October. The Clocktower Bar and a dining room and terrace also opened in recent weeks.
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The rooftop space wraps around Shell House’s 400-tonne clocktower – within which is housed another cocktail bar. All around, floor-to-ceiling windows look out to the city beyond, while bi-fold doors lead to an open-air terrace that Robinson says feels “Mediterranean”. Chevron stripes in terracotta and neutral tones are a running theme, from the floor tiles to the plush lounges, while rounded, rust-coloured chairs add to the mid-century ambience. Silhouette-like burnt orange and black murals by artist Mike Freedom cover the walls, while a handsome wooden bar dominates one section of the venue, lit by wreath-like ceiling lights. It evokes Mad Men crossed with a ’30s Milanese speakeasy.
And the sophisticated-yet-fun snack menu fittingly riffs on those Med vibes. Kick things off with a blini-style dish with an Italo twist: Oscietra caviar with mascarpone-topped socca, a thin chickpea pancake. Whipped ricotta and anchovy are layered upon ciambella (an Italian cake), and a whipped hazelnut-and-orange paste is served atop rounds of choux pastry.
The cocktails – with names such as Negative Gearing (clarified ice-cream bourbon, whisky, Fernet-Branca, hazelnut and smoked coconut) and Mile High Club (rosé, elderflower, orange blossom, sparkling wine) – reference the luxe bar’s lofty, altitudinous position, and also draw in those Italian flavours. The wine list has a strong Italian presence, plenty of Aussie drops and a smattering of options from France, Germany and South Africa.
“There’s something for everyone within this space,” Point Group CEO Brett Robinson tells Broadsheet. “We’ll be taking people on a bit of a journey through the building and creating a whole house of fun.”
Sky Bar, Shell House
37 Margaret Street, Sydney