Originally published on Concrete Playground.
A no-frills backyard bar behind Johnston Street’s Bar Liberty.
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 potato chips artistically stacked on their sides in French onion dip is bound to go down well ($10). For something a little more substantial look to the flatbreads, which are topped with combos such as broccoli, pepper and ricotta — one bite alone will make you want to order another five. One option is graced with fried salami and stracciatella, another with capocollo (an Italian salami, also known as coppa), salsa verde and pecorino ($14). All are served not with a knife, but a pair of scissors — which is a surprisingly deeply satisfying tool to cut through cooked bread with.
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.
Image credit: Brook James.