Yarra Botanica is a double-storey, plant-filled floating bar and eatery on the waters of Southbank. But unlike other seasonal riverfront (or floating) venues, this spot is open year-round, with plenty of awnings and heaters to combat the cold. There are also several bookable spaces for private functions, though there’s no bad seat in the house.

Part of Yarra Botanica’s mission is to fiercely champion local booze and produce through its seasonal menu, which includes a raft of pub-style snacks, pizzas and gin-based cocktails.

Snacks highlight some of the state’s best ingredients. Think pickled mussels with ’nduja and pizza-fritto “dippers”; fried chicken ribs with honey-buttered hot sauce; and crispy Gippsland mushrooms with XO sauce. Other options include rainbow-trout doughnuts, and cheese and charcuterie boards you can pay for by the metre.

Pizzas use 90-hour fermented sourdough bases and are topped with cheese from That’s Amore, or Damona as a vegan alternative. For dessert, there’s vegan hemp soft serve.

As the name suggests, gin is a big part of the experience. There’s a hefty range of gin cocktails and carafes on offer, featuring native ingredients such as pepperberry, lemon myrtle and gum leaf. An entire wall of the venue is planted with gin botanicals, and the rest of the space is lush with both aquatic and terrestrial foliage.

But there’s plenty else to drink. Beers, wines and hard seltzers are all all sourced from within the state, in line with venue’s commitment to the Drink Victorian campaign.

Behind the river-riding venue is hospitality group Australian Venue Co. It operates 170 venues nationwide, including Kewpie (the former Bimbo), Perseverance on Brunswick Street and Richmond’s Harlow.

Yarra Botanica officially launches March 16, 2022.

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Updated: March 10th, 2022

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