The best bars in Melbourne to escape the cold in winter

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The best bars in Melbourne to escape the cold in winter

Bar 303

Winter's got us by the scruff of the neck. The allure of a hot cocoa alongside your rekindled flame has overcome your basic social obligation and the 7am rise 'n shine alarm has swelled out to a 10am ‘I don’t want to take the doona off’ siren.

It’s a daunting time for us all but there are always avenues of escaping winter’s dreary aversion. Beat’s donned a turtleneck and some hosiery, some thermals and a balaclava to find the best bars in Melbourne to abet that remorseless winter fever.


I’m taking you to my grandma’s place and we’re going to have an espresso martini while listening to the bourbon-soaked baritone of Tom Waits. You arrive with surprise to realise that grandma’s place is also adorned with 19th century kitsch lamps, an open fire place, church aisle booths and gregarious wall-hung taxidermy. Prudence’s beer garden provides an intimate environment to snuggle up and tell your grandchildren some bedtime stories (no, not really) and once they’ve gone to sleep, treat yourself to a whisky served neat.

368 Victoria Street, North Melbourne

The Wesley Anne

I’ve already spoken about the aptitude of a pie in fighting winter’s bacteria with Beat’s Guide to Melbourne’s Best Pies, but I haven’t touched on an open fire’s expertise in the same field. Well, put them both together and you have Northcote’s 19th century church reconfiguration the Wesley Anne. They’ve sorted out winter to a tee with $12 pie nights on Wednesdays and a $14.99 roo and red (with mash and veggies) occasion on Mondays. The fireplace keeps you warm out the back, and it wouldn’t be a bar without alcohol so make sure you try their dark & stormy.

250 High Street, Northcote

The Great Britain Hotel

If cheap beverages are the only way to get one out of their trackies on a Saturday night this winter then the Great Britain Hotel could be in for a busy chill. $7 pints (of anything), basic spirits and house wine between 5pm and 7pm every day is scintillating and while they always offer a vast selection of ales and draughts. Plus, mulled wine is the Great Britain’s specialty in winter – the perfect voice box warmer for their Wednesday open mic night.

447 Church Street, Richmond

Back Bar

At Back Bar, you feel like home… in the 1920s. Put on your flapper dress and cloche hat and come on down to a setting fashioned with Axminster carpet, a pressed metal ceiling, antique Victorian sofas and ornate mirrors. Picturing the Great Gatsby? Wise you are. It’s cocktail heaven cushioned by an open fireplace and an arrangement of board games for when you want to sit on the rug and accuse Professor Plum with the lead piping.

67 Green Street, Windsor

Young & Jackson’s

Residing at the bottommost end of Swanston St, it’s arguably Melbourne’s most conveniently positioned pub. Naive discernments of Young & Jackson’s emanate ‘it’s the same old’ or ‘it’ll be too busy’ generalisations, but the 19th century hotel is actually your perfect sanctuary as you straddle back from the MCG on a Friday night. The Mercury is making all the noise this winter among three boutique ciders upstairs. Take off your North Face, the heater’s set to 25 degrees.

Corner Swanston & Flinders Street, CBD


Windswept and frostbitten, the Scottish team behind the Highlander bring expertise and astuteness to a Melbourne winter bereft of the ice and snow they’re so accustomed to – but it’s not out of place. What better way to tussle Melbourne’s less than Scottish winter than with a serving of haggis balls and mayo. What about a 10-year-old Talisker whisky with water? They’re wise measures until you try their mulled wine which’ll have you cooking and feeling like you’re sitting in Edinburgh’s Last Word Saloon on Christmas Eve.

11a Highlander Lane, CBD

Whole Lotta Love

There’s no better way to combat the cold than to belt out your lungs to a crowd of zero judgement and complete encouragement. Brunswick’s Led Zeppelin-inspired whisky bar and lounge Whole Lotta Love runs an open mic night every Wednesday for those willing to unveil their secret winter bedroom projects to a completely supportive and harmlessly appraising crowd. Grab a single malt whisky and talk Led with the bar staff. Now, you’ve reached optimum warmth.

524 Lygon Street, Brunswick

Section 8

They’re vowing to keep you as snug as a bug in a rug this winter despite being predominantly outdoors. How? They keep things toasty all day with radiant heaters beaming from the ceiling and tall infrared free standers suitably spaced. Section 8’s done the extra homework for the winter run home with over 20 beers freshly pioneered. Yet through all this innovation they haven’t forgotten their famous Glüwein mulled wine recipe, dating back to Section 8’s inauguration in 2006.

27-29 Tattersalls Lane, CBD

Baxter’s Lot

Mulled wine, stout beer and hot apple cider are established remedies for winter’s wounds but they prove boring when you arrive at Baxter’s Lot. The guys at Fitzroy’s Irish hideaway are making hot toddies (typically liquor with water, honey, herbs and spices) for you as well as alcoholic teas in what can only be considered an effort to embrace the freeze rather than lament it. Open mic night every second Sunday helps warm the lungs but if you don’t feel compelled to perform, let the pros do it for you with live music every week.

302 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy