We Melburnians love a good whinge about the weather, don’t we? After a long, chilly and, well, dryish winter, the loss of the wind’s bite and the occasional gleaming sun ray is more than enough for most of us to run out, hit the treadmills and drop large bank on fresh spring cuts. Consecutive hot days however, send many of us crying out for immediate relief. For those who aren’t spoiled by sunshine, its appearance spells a chance for us to get out among it, making careful note of what everyone’s doing with their newly exposed ivory hides.
There’s no better way of scoping out the improving weather than relaxing in one of our city’s beer gardens, courtyards or rooftops. Whether seeking a good chuckle with friends in a laid-back atmosphere or glitzing it up with cocktail-sippers, Melbourne has plenty to offer.
The city’s fixation with rooftops strikes me as a little odd considering the state’s reputation for unreliable weather. Nevertheless, we love ‘em.
This season, check out a couple of new kids on the block: the Albany Hotel’s new rooftop pool bar is open Fridays and Sundays, and sports not only a vaulting pool, but lovely surrounding terraced seats and custom float-friendly glassware. I for one love the thought of attempting a lap while balancing a piña colada on my head (they probably don’t)! The sturdy city entity with an already good balcony, The Carlton Club, has reached for the skies a little more with a more developed rooftop bar. Offering a shiny new license, punters no longer have to wait for their drinks to arrive via an oft tardy lift, but can now enjoy the great space serviced by its own bar.
The best beer garden in town is probably a debate that’s has been raging for a hundred years (seriously), but the game’s as fresh as ever! Mighty stalwarts like The Standard Hotel, with its green and winding gardens, or the Railway Hotel with its chic elevated space sporting icy lagers and crisp whites, continue to do their thing as do many more throughout the surrounding ’burbs.
Yet, as always, bigger isn’t necessarily better, and small venues can have great secluded treasures. Melbourne is littered with loads of great wee courtyards attached to bars, pubs and restaurants. The Alderman on Lygon Street, Brunswick is a hidden gem, and feels like a separate world in which to gather conspiratorially with friends among the fronds. Gertrude Street is deep in the game with Brown Couch, Southpaw, Enoteca and the Builders Arms all possessing cute shady offerings, along with great snacks and thoughtful drinks lists perfect for a date, catch-up or tiny party. Who doesn’t love one of those?! Enter the Baden Powell in Collingwood, upping the ante with a cute little courtyard on weekends and hot days, complete with garage roller door revealing a hidden bar that serves tasty fare to a rustic space full of plants, blocks and a communal picnic table. Rad.
It feels a shame not to highlight all of Melbourne’s outdoor spaces – there are just so many. So we encourage you to do a bit of exploration of your own to track down a local gem and make it yours.
And if it all gets too much this summer, and you’ve been clattering about with bags of shopping in poorly chosen shoes, then get off the street and into a slice of frosty aircon.
Places that’ll cool you down quick, slow the heart rate and refresh the senses are pretty easy to find, but quality of service and product isn’t. Head quickly to The Galley Room (above the Waterside Hotel), Black Pearl, Match Bar or Golden Monkey to recharge, have a drink and get primed for your return to the blistering streets.