The name says it all. The new courtyard bar in Fitzroy behind Bar Liberty, drinkwell, is “a place for drinking nice things” says co-owner Banjo Harris Plane.
Although drinkwell is attached to Bar Liberty, the team – Harris Plane along with Michael Bascetta, Manu Potoi and Casey Wall – is keen to treat it as a separate entity.
“We talked about whether we should just do the same thing, but outside,” says Harris Plane. “But we’re really happy with Bar Liberty, and we thought it might be silly to try and just replicate it outdoors. We decided to take it down a slightly different path.”
Bar Liberty is relaxed, but drinkwell is even more laid-back; it’s like a small beer garden. There’s (fake) grass and a big mural by Melbourne artist Kitt Bennett on one wall.
There’s still the same focus on quality food and drinks at drinkwell, but the offering outdoors is smaller and more relaxed. Food is limited to a couple of snacks, including house-made French-onion dip with crisps; oysters; and flatbreads with three different toppings – one with fried salami and stracciatella.
Two beers on tap will rotate regularly – at the moment, there’s a Hop Nation pilsner and a Bridge Road pale ale. There are bottled cocktails made in-house – just a Negroni, Martini and Old Fashioned at this point, although the offering will expand early next year. The wine list includes two made specifically for drinkwell – a light-red blend from Patrick Sullivan (Gippsland) and a chardonnay made by Tom Belford from Bobar (Yarra Valley).
It’s a pretty small space; it seats 25 to 30 people, with standing room for a few more. But don’t worry if you don’t nab a seat.
“We’ve already had people take their shoes off, and sit on the grass,” says Harris Plane. “It’s like being in a park.”
234 Johnston Street, Fitzroy (enter via Chapel Street)
Mon to Fri 5pm–11pm
Sat & Sun 3pm–11pm