Here are Melbourne's cosiest winter watering holes

Published on 16 June 2022

Photo: Bar Margaux's winter-proofing cheeseburger (photo Gareth Sobey).

Finding a cosy watering hole to hibernate in over winter is not exactly a challenge in Melbourne, so why not take the whole snug thing one step further and aim for an inner glow as well as an outer one?

The shortest, most satisfying path to that inner glow is to frequent winter-ready venues that support local wine, beer, cider and spirit makers. These producers are not only brilliant at what they do but are the heroes who helped us through the long winter of our pandemic discontent. So how warm are the cockles of your heart going to feel returning that love? Here are some venues to kickstart the quest. 

Bar Margaux
Cloistered in a CBD basement, this buzzing Paris-by-way-of-New York bistro and bar defies the outside weather patterns. Our forecast is for the mercury to stay reliably high with the failsafe combination of double-decker burgers matched with rich Victorian reds from Dalwhinnie and Sorrenberg. 
Basement/111 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, barmargaux.com.au

Bijou Bottle Store
With walls lined with dark timber shelves stretching to the ceiling, this tiny bar and bottleshop has the cosiness of a Dickensian private library, though with quality booze rather than books surrounding you on all sides. Craft beer from local brewers like Wolf of the Willows, vermouth from Maidenii and small-producer wines from Victorian makers keep the home fires burning.
194 Little Collins St, Melbourne, bijoubottlestore.com

Little Prince Wine
The icy winds might be blowing straight off Port Phillip Bay, but inside Little Prince, the bar and bottle shop at the Prince Hotel, all is serene, warm and stacked with some truly impressive wine labels: perhaps a Sutton Grange syrah from central Victoria or a Domenica Nebbiolo from Beechworth. Fortify further with cheese and charcuterie. 
2 Acland St, St Kilda, theprince.com.au/little-prince-wine

Cellar Bar
It’s hard to resist the warmth of varnished timber panelling, gilt-edged oil paintings and charmingly Italian-accented waiters. Part of the Grossi stable, this top-of-Bourke fixture will whisk you to the sunny Mediterranean on the wings of Victorian vermouth such as the Campanella Dry from the Yarra Valley, or maybe a Rutherglen topaque to close out the evening. 
80 Bourke Street, Melbourne, florentino.com.au/cellar-bar

Mjolner
Trust a Viking-themed bar and restaurant to pulverise the cold into submission. Look no further than the selection of mead – “honey wine” – from western Victorian producers Three Horn Brewing, including a version infused with cherry, hibiscus and pomegranate, or a warming chestnut brown ale from Bayswater’s Hard Road Brewing, served as the Norse gods prefer in a giant horn. 
106 Hardware St, Melbourne, mjolner.com.au/melbourne 

The Ugly Duckling
Fans of Scandi-adjacent design, precision-built cocktails and Victorian wine will feel both snug and smug in this clean-lined, wintergarden-like space. And it’s not just local wineries well represented on the list – from central Victorian pet-nat to syrah from Beechworth – there’s gin from the likes of Patient Wolf and vermouth from Maidenii for those after a home-grown Martini.
238 Swan St, Richmond, theuglyduckling.com.au

Neighbourhood Wine
If the crackle of the open fire at this first-floor bolthole doesn’t warm your cockles, a glass of minimum intervention Victorian red surely will. Pull up a hearthside seat and let a wide-ranging selection of lo-fi wines including Castlemaine tempranillo, King Valley pinot noir and Gippsland syrah work its comforting magic. 
1 Reid St, Fitzroy North, neighbourhoodwine.com 

O’Connell’s Centenary Hotel
Streetside tables might be hot property in summer but this South Melbourne stalwart is an all-weather friend thanks to the inherent cosiness of dark timber panelling, soft lighting and sports memorabilia. It feels like London – even while drinking Two Birds' fruit-driven taco beer or tasting the ripping collection of Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula wines. 
193 Montague St, South Melbourne, oconnells.com.au

The Recreation
When the nearby Edinburgh Gardens are lashed with rain, you want to be here: coddled in the red brick cocoon of a former pub turned smart bistro and wine bar. Studded with smaller producers including Holly’s Garden – try the sparkling Uberbrut – and Gippsland cult favourite Patrick Sullivan, the list is a beauty.
162-170 Queens Pde, Fitzroy North, the-recreation.com

The Victoria Hotel
With exposed brick and timber details, a Sunday roast and footy on the TV (mostly the Doggies), The Vic gives classic comforting old-school pub vibes, then adds excellent drinks to the mix, including Footscray brewery Hop Nation and Yarra Valley wine on tap and local distillers like Melbourne Gin Company on the shelves.
43 Victoria St, Footscray, victoriahotelfootscray.com

By Michael Harden and Larissa Dubecki

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