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Nine Summery Courtyards for When You Want to Kick Off Cocktail Hour Before Dark

Start the night with an openair old-fashioned or a sunset sour.
By Marnie Vinall
November 20, 2020
By Marnie Vinall
November 20, 2020


in partnership with

Start the night with an openair old-fashioned or a sunset sour.

Honestly, is there anything better than soaking in the Melbourne sun on a lazy afternoon, cocktail in hand, while perched in one of the city's best beer gardens? We certainly don't think so. So, to help you plan your summer of outdoor drinking, we've partnered with Maker's Mark to bring you nine summery courtyards for when you want to catch up with friends before dark. From local hotels to cocktail bars on the Yarra, there's a courtyard to suit your vibe and a drinks list to match it.

  • 9
    The Flying Duck Hotel

    Waddle into the Flying Duck near Princess Gardens in Prahran and head straight for the courtyard to settle in among the foliage and fishponds for your next catch-up date. It has big sharing tables throughout the space, so there’s plenty of room for your mates without having to rub elbows with them or anyone else. Kick off the night with an old-fashioned made with Maker’s Mark, orange bitters and orange rind, as you peruse the food menu. The hotel’s renowned for making a mean parma.

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  • 8

    Jimmy Watson’s courtyard is snugly situated between the back of Jimmy Watson’s restaurant and wine bar, and the stairs that lead to Wolf Lair’s & Treetops. The hideout offers an escape from the hustle of the Italian precinct by way of a perfect spot for a cheeky afternoon cocktail, including the likes of a southside, an amaretto sour or an old-fashioned. There are plenty of snacks and share plates to munch on too, such as panko-crumbed pumpkin arancini, sweet potato chips, charcuterie and cheese boards, and plenty of delicious pizzas.

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  • 7

    Located in the heart of the city along Exhibition Street is Trunk Diner, a bustling bar in a restored 1850s synagogue. Head through to its sprawling courtyard and grab one of the 130 seats up for grabs. Then, pick from the menu of tap beers, 100-plus wines and 30 different cocktails. We recommend getting your hands on a Maker’s Mark old-fashioned to complete the boozy garden vibe. If you get hungry, the venue offers classic American diner food, such as cheeseburgers, mini corn dogs, southern-fried chicken and slaw. And of course, many, many quality fries.

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  • 6
    Auburn Hotel

    Auburn Hotel is a Victorian-style pub in Hawthorn East that boasts an elegant and sunny courtyard out the back, which also happens to feature a retractable roof in case it rains. For the past 28 years, the watering hole was home to Geebung Polo Club and has since retained its sense of style and refinement with ornate decor and both classic and fancy pub food — you’ll find citrus cured king ora salmon next to beef pie on the menu. Plus, the courtyard out back is a picture-perfect spot for soaking in the sun and getting in a cocktail or two before dark. Especially if you’re feeling a bit fancy.

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  • 5
    Newmarket Hotel

    Newmarket Hotel is a favourite for many St Kilda locals. It’s trendy and the spacious pub is filled with natural light. There’s also a notable space for punters to dine among the elements. While seated in the courtyard, enjoy a cocktail off its list of classics, including cosmopolitans, margaritas, negronis, espresso martinis, spritzes, old-fashioneds and long island iced teas. The menu features some standard pub goodies too, such as salt and pepper calamari, beer battered fish and chips and fried chicken tenders. All in all, it’s a perfect spot for a laid-back hang with mates.

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  • 4

    Perseverance Bar is hard to miss as the sizeable building is positioned prominently on the corner of Brunswick and Moor Streets in the heart of Fitzroy. The venue beckons punters in for a cold one, some tasty pub grub bites and party vibes to kick off the night. The spacious and vibrant watering hole also has a roomy courtyard fit for a naughty cocktail or three. If you’re heading out afterwards to enjoy the nightlife of inner-north Melbourne, stopping out at Perseverance for an espresso martini will get you in the mood for the night ahead.

    Image: Giulia Morlando

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  • 3
    Left Bank Melbourne

    Head down Southbank Boulevard and you’ll find Left Bank, a stunning restaurant and cocktail bar overlooking the Yarra and the city’s skyline. Make a beeline for the outside courtyard and settle in for a well-made tipple with some triple crème brie and oysters on the side. It has an impressive selection of cocktails to choose from, both at the main bar and at the cocktail bar, all of which are bespoke takes on the classics. We recommend the Apple and Basil Marktini, featuring Maker’s Mark and Absolute Citron with apple juice, green apple liqueur and basil, or the Breakfast Club Martini, containing Maker’s Mark, Carton caramel liqueur, orange marmalade, honey syrup, lemon and orange juice, egg white and orange bitters.

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  • 2

    Siglo is a spacious rooftop above The European and The Melbourne Supper Club, where you can nestle into a seat in the open air and spy walkers along Spring Street and St Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s all table service, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy a pick from the cocktail list of favourites like a Maker’s Mark old-fashioned. You’ll also find Havanan cigars from the humidor if you’re so inclined. The venue has a smart-casual dress code, so get into your fanciest get-up to match the city views.

    Image: Visit Victoria

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  • 1
    O'Connells Hotel

    O’Connells Hotel is located along Coventry Street in the hub of South Melbourne and has been a staple of the suburb for over 140 years. Punters keep warm by the fireplace through winter and sun themselves in the courtyard out back during the warmer months. The venue boasts modern Australian dining with dishes that are innovative and contemporary while giving a solid nod to the venue’s pub roots. While you’re mulling over what to eat, order a mojito, minted mule or espresso martini. There’s a mocktail list, too, for any non-drinkers in the group, ensuring everyone keep their whistles wet.

    Image: Brook James

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Find out more about Maker’s Mark and how to make an old-fashioned, here

Top image: Trunk Diner

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