We all love a good beer garden. But sometimes standing shoulder to shoulder in the sun isn’t the best way to enjoy a proper drink. Here’s our guide to the best outdoor places in Melbourne to pause, take a breath of fresh air, and settle in.
Tucked away in a CBD Chinatown laneway, Union Electric uses fresh ingredients and serves great staples (they claim, boldly, to serve the best espresso martini in town) as well as a few interesting concoctions of their own.
Under festoon lights in their slim courtyard you can try the Bang Bang Bang, made with lemon, herbal liqueur, herbal aperitif and whisky. A good relationship with the New Kum Den next door means you don’t need to leave to find great food.
On a sprawling rooftop up the leafy, Parliament end of the CBD, Siglo is a terrace built on excellent cocktails and classy late-night revelry. Siglo staff know all about both.
“Our cocktails are a selection of uniquely crafted recipes in which complex, original elements are combined with the simplicity of classic, mid-twentieth century cocktails,” says manger Gemma Duggan.
One of her current favourites is the Vieux Carre 29, which features Bulleit Rye Whiskey, red vermouth, cognac, herbal liqueur, and bitters. “It’s one of our signature Barrel Aged concoctions and a prohibition era homage,” says Duggan. “It’s aged in a seasoned oak barrel for one month and served on the rocks with a citrus twist.”
There’s also a hell of a late supper menu—we’re talking both party pies and foie gras—to graze on while you sip a few Southsides (Tanqueray Gin, mint and lime). Come at sunset and watch the light break over parliament house. It’s the most civilised evening drinking spot in town.
They don’t mind the double entendre at Madame Brussels. This rooftop terrace overlooking Bourke Street is named after a legendary Melbourne brothel owner from colonial days, and pays tribute to her by serving cocktails by the pun.
Bask in the sunny, camp garden party vibe, and order your Love Juice (rum, berries, apple juice topped with bubbles) from a young man dressed in skimpy tennis whites. For something sparkly and refreshing this summer try a Ginge Minge, consisting of ginger beer, apple cider, vodka and kiwi and ginger liqueurs.
Four floors above Swanston Street, the elegant and playfully fairy-tale themed Goldilocks offers a small but well-conceived range of cocktails—and just to keep you on your toes they rotate them regularly. They also do alcohol infusions and interesting flavour matches involving fresh fruit and veg – think capsicum and ginger, as well as everyday treats such as chocolate and strawberry jam.
It’s tough to bypass the tasteful lighting and classily cosy spaces indoors, but it’s worth it to sit among the rooftops.
The best cocktail bar in Windsor is hidden behind an unmarked freezer door at the back of sandwich shop, Boston Sub. Step into Jungle Boy’s cosy little redbrick courtyard for a curious mix of American food and tropical cocktails that somehow works. There’s a Negroni on tap (Tanqueray Gin, Campari and vermouth), and for the weekend, something aptly called a Corpse Reviver: Tanqueray Gin, sparkling, orange liqueur and fresh lemon, rounded out with a dash of absinthe.
Welcome to Thornbury
Back when Thornbury was a suburban outpost, this spot used to be a car factory. Now, it’s a northside food truck chaser’s dream, with ample seating and half-a-dozen rotating food options setting up camp every night.
“We have so many different kinds of cuisines here,” says assistant manager Alex Chivers, “from burgers to dumplings to pizza to ice cream. You want to complement the food, so just offering beer would be unforgivable. In summer, especially, it’s a tropical garden here. Cocktails are perfect for that.”
In keeping with the communal atmosphere, Welcome to Thornbury typically serve their cocktails in jugs, ideal for sharing with a group of sun-seeking friends. Look out for the classic High Street Punch, made with Ketel One Vodka, lychee liqueur, blood orange and fresh rosemary.
This article is presented in partnership with World Class.