If you're wondering how to make a good bar even better, look no further than Bar Liberty. The Fitzroy bar — which was our favourite new bar of 2016, mind you — has added a standalone outdoor bar out the back of their Johnston Street space, called Drinkwell.
The small space is built on fake grass and features a corrugated iron bar and a few long communal timber tables that are surrounded by murals, one of which is by Melbourne artist Kitt Bennet. All up, the backyard bar, which opens onto a small sidestreet, seats about 30 people. Oh, and it's dog-friendly (even at nights).
The drinks list features two beers on tap at a time, as well as some tinnies, wines and a few cocktails. If you're looking for something you can't get just anywhere, go for the Okar Spritz ($12). Okar is made by South Australian distillery Applewood and is basically the Australian version of Aperol, only a little more bitter and rich in flavour. It's an acquired taste — but if you like an Aperol Spritz, give these homegrown bitters a go.
If you visit Drinkwell with the intent of not eating, that's fine, but we urge you to reconsider. Regardless of which drink you choose, pairing it with hummus, falafel or a plate heaped with salad (or all of the above) will not be regretted.
Drinkwell is relaxed, no fuss, and a great spot to make some new pals. It's both a top choice to kick off a night out and wind down with a nightcap — whether you're just having dinner inside at Bar Liberty or heading further afield. The lack of heaters, however, may cut your not-so-summery Melbourne summer night short. Let's hope they've arrived by winter.
Images: Brook James.
UPDATE DECEMBER 10, 2017: Drinkwell has reopened for the summer, complete with a new food menu (falafel) and drinks offering (wine in mini goon sacks).