As the temperature inches up and the daylight dawdles, rooftops and balconies, courtyards and gardens are in high demand. Thankfully, Melbourne has plenty of twilight-drinking zones and afternoon watering holes. They include a handful of hot spots as well as a few scenes that were born over the cold, winter months (but will come into their own for summer sessions). It’s time to get situated.

Rooftops

Loch & Key
A great date place or perhaps a “one last drink” stop-off (it’s licensed until 5am on weekends), the cosy balcony terrace at Loch & Key delivers a more intimate affair. The cocktail list is tight, with concoctions that include fresh apple juice, ginger jam and bacon dust. For a midnight snack, $5 toasties come out hot and generous.
Upstairs, 34 Franklin Street, Melbourne

Goldilocks
With Astro Turf and leafy surrounds, Goldilocks provides an elevated, urban garden for evenings in the city. There’s a rotating menu of seasonal cocktails that involve infused spirits, fruit, veg and even chocolate. Each drink can be paired with a number of small-but-substantial bites, including sliders, fried chicken and truffle popcorn.
Level 4, 264 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Bimbo Deluxe
Bimbos has launched a new menu loaded with even more $4 pizza varieties (in selected times. They’re $6 usually) as well “iron pies”; Bimbos’ version of the jaffle, spilling with sweet and savoury fillings. The menu is just in time for spring/summer sessions on the rooftop deck, which not only provides the perfect launch pad for Friday-night drinks, but is also an airy Sunday recovery destination.
Corner Brunswick Street & Rose Street, Fitzroy

Corner Hotel
Perfect for sweaty punters who might need a breather from the bandroom downstairs, The Corner’s rooftop provides respite post dance floor as well as a relaxed space to have a few pre-show drinks. With a separate bar upstairs and loads of seating, it’s a sound option for bigger groups, musos, those coming from the MCG and everyone in between.
57 Swan Street, Richmond

Rooftop Bar
Self-explanatory and a Melbourne favourite. Make your way up six (rewarding) flights of stairs, or wait for the elevator and you’ll be welcomed with a deck chair, a tight range of drinks and a burger. With sunset views that stretch from the city to the suburbs, and with Rooftop Cinema about to unveil its 2015/16 summer schedule, you won’t know where to look.
Level 7, Curtin House 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Gardens

Welcome to Thornbury
Six food trucks and the capacity for 700 people? Summer says Welcome to Thornbury. The giant beer garden and food destination provides the city’s newest, largest outdoor culinary experience. Choose your weapon (pizza, tacos, Vietnamese, burgers) swing via either of the two long bars and pick a seat on the wooden-decked area. Just head north up High Street and across Separation Street. You won’t miss the neon signage and sweeping lights.
520 High Street, Thornbury

Dr Morse Bar & Eatery
Equal parts cafe, bar, beer garden and backyard barbecue – Dr Morse delivers all day, every season. But for Abbotsford locals and Dr Morse frequenters, summertime means DAYDREAMS and DAYDREAMS means Sunday dance party. Free entry, free fruit and the best local DJs.
274 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

Howler
Howler is much more than a bar – it’s a Brunswick cultural hub. Not only is there capacity for live music, cinema and artist exhibitions, Howler’s garden is the ultimate space for sunlight, sculpture and sound. With a big range of spirits, solid bartenders, a rotating beer list, burger nights and DJs in the garden – it’s a no brainer.
7–11 Dawson Street, Brunswick

The Windsor Castle
A luscious beer garden filled with greenery and ample woodenbench seating, The Windsor Castle offers a back-street oasis equipped with an outdoor tiki bar. Word has it, come summertime, it will have a slushie machine to make the best icy-booze drinks south of the river.
89 Albert Street, Windsor

Courtyards

Leonard’s House of Love
The people behind Leonard’s know that a great party house has a patio. Although there’s a lot happening inside (lounge-room dance party, pool room, bar) there’s even more going down in the courtyard outside. Come summertime, it’ll be a challenge to find a seat, but once you do, settle in on the porch with a drink and some charcoal chicken and it’ll be home, but not as you know it.
3 Wilson Street, South Yarra

Jungle Boy
Not your average courtyard and not your typical passage. To the unassuming eye, Chapel Street’s Boston Sub looks like a killer sub shop serving quality late-night eats and Canadian fries. Which it absolutely is, but that’s not all. Positioned quietly behind the cool-room door is a tropical-themed cocktail bar and tiki courtyard. A relaxing escape to enjoy some poutine and a sophisticated drink.
96 Chapel Street, Windsor

Arbory Bar & Eatery
Perhaps occupying one of the most-accessible locations in Melbourne (it’s literally at the end and/or the start of the line) it’s only natural that an abandoned train platform on at Flinders Street Station was transformed into an open-air bar and eatery because, Melbourne. With bench seating and bar stools that overlook the Yarra River, nothing welcomes the end of the working day, or the beginning of the weekend, like an Espresso Martini poured from a tap. Great share-food and bar list, too.
1 Flinders Walk, Melbourne

Honourable mentions
Nevermind
366 Burwood Road, Hawthorn

Grub Food Van
87-89 Moor Street, Fitzroy

Reverence
157 Union Road Ascot Vale

The Retreat
280 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Marquis of Lorne
411 George Street, Fitzroy

Section 8
27-29 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

Lane’s Edge
39 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Pope Joan
77-79 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East

The Rochester
202 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

Le Bon Ton
51 Gipps Street, Collingwood

The Carlton Club
193 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Archie’s
189 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy