Froffin’ for a tipple on Chapel Street’s south end? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve scoured this southeastern 'burb to find out just which bars serve the coldest beers, the ritziest cocktails, the smoothest wines and the most distilled spirits (and we’re still paying for it with a thumping headache). Whether it’s Friday knockoffs, drinks with friends or wines with mum, we’ve got you sorted.
If it’s time to wet your whistle at a Windsor watering hole, here’s a list of the best bars in Windsor.
Borsch Vodka & Tears
Aptly named after a synonymous duo, Borsch Vodka & Tears is a Polish cafe and bar that gives off a strong Bohemian vibe (and even stronger drinks). Its gypsy-style decor and delicious menu of over 100 different vodka cocktails mean it’s the perfect place for pre’s, post’s and everything in between. Go chase the green fairy.
If pub-style is more your scene, then give the Lucky Coq a chance to fill your glass. Not only do they serve up insanely affordable pub food to line your stomach with (helloooo $4 pizzas), but it has all your favourite brews on tap and in tinnies. Pair your cheap AF pizza with a tall pint of Mountain Goats’ finest.
Resembling an old, old wooden ship (called Diversity), Holy Grail is a must for all boat enthusiasts out there. With a rustic wooden interior littered with antiques and intimate private booths, this is an excellent place to sip on seasonal cocktails, old school classics and a huge range of beers, wines and spirits.
Right in the heart of Windsor is a little place called Wonderland Bar. Not only does it boast the biggest outdoor area on Chapel Street, but its laid-back, art-deco style bar is full of eclectic art and antique pieces that would give Antiques Roadshow a run for its money. Not only do they have an extensive range of back bar spirits, tap and bottle beer, and Australian and international wines, but they also serve up frozen margaritas and frosé!
The Woods Of Windsor
It would be rude of us not to include a few bars named after the ‘burb itself, coincidentally they’re all bloody good pit stops. First up is The Woods of Windsor which is a dimly lit, old-world watering hole. Here, you’ll be waited on by a dapper bartender, treated to some classic cocktails and fed some uber relaxed bar nibbles such as sliders, croquettes and charcuterie boards.
The Wolf & I
Treat yourself to some *eye-catching* decor at The Wolf & I, where general rules for interior decorating go out the window and world-class bevs are handed over the bar. This haven of exposed brick and taxidermied bear heads on human bodies (!!) is a fine place to dine if you find yourself on the southern end of Chapel Street.
Windsor Castle Hotel
Topping off a damn tasty list is the famous Windsor Castle Hotel. You may know it as ‘that bar with the pink elephants on the roof’, but this bad boy is so much more than a handful of huge colourful plastic animals, it’s a beer drinker's paradise. Enjoy a pint and some pub-style food in their beer garden, or snuggle up inside out of the Melbourne chill with a cosy merlot.
You might miss Galah on the first go. There's a sweet little boutique bottle-o downstairs that confuses some people. Don't get distracted—climb up to the second level and you'll find a sick converted mechanic's loft space. Very industrial, very Windsor. The cocktail list and the nibbles have a native Australian skew (think finger lime and saltbush galore), and there's a wicked little patio space behind the bar (just push through the door on the right).
Speaking of upstairs bars, you'll find Impala above Neptune on High St—a banging 70s disco lounge and whisky bar. It’s Rum Diaries meets Eyes Wide Shut, with a smidge of Saturday Night Fever thrown in. If you're going cocktails, head straight for the signature Mrs Belleville, a frothy mix of gin and Fernet Menta, shaken up with peach, ginger liqueur and egg whites. Noice.
Wouldn't be a Windsor bar list without the bar that nobody can find, right? If you're a sucker for secret speakeasies, Jungle Boy will push all the right buttons. Here's how you do it: walk into the halogen sandwich bar, Boston Sub, no discreetly at the guy behind the counter, then walk through the fridge door, set in the wall. Inside is a little slice of Tikki paradise. Rum cocktails, palm leaves and a cute little buzz. Congrats! You just found Jungle Boy.
A new one on the Chapel St strip, but LOVER is already making some waves. Might have something to do with the cheese boards and the craft tinnies, might have something to do with the fact they launched the damn place with an exclusive In-N-Out burger pop-up. How's that for creating some neighbourhood buzz...Pro tip: try the gnocchi.
No apostrophe here, folks. It's Mothers Milk, as in the phrase "Mothers milk a cow." Let's just move on, shall we? Mothers Milk has another location in Brighton, but Windsor is probably the one you want to check out. It's all about the hard liquor and loud tunes, specifically grunge, rock and alt music. Sit yourself down on the leather chesterfields and don't get up till last call.
Chapel St Cellars
Half bottle-o, half bar, with a very sweet BYO food policy. This place is pretty much a wine-lover's candy shop. Take a look around on the shelves, pick up a little treat for home, or pop the cork up at the bar and tuck into a top-notch range of international beers, ciders, wines and spirits. The range changes all the time. Best to just ask what's new and roll with it.
La La Land
The extent to which you like La La Land will probably depend on how much you love the following: low red lighting, a crowd that is almost painfully cool, and cigarette marked velour sofas (probably swagged from the nearby op-shops). In fact the whole place is decked out in Salvos attire. It makes for a very low-key afternoon session, or a smooth-sipping all-nighter. Best seats in the house are right up front. Literally, your feet are basically on the street.
We've got a lot of time for Yellow Bird. By day it's a banging brunch bar with serves the size of your head (honestly, if you're struggling with a hangover on Chapel St, one visit to Yellow Bird and you'll either feel 100% or vom all over the street). By night the place kind of morphs. Down go the lights, out come the cocktails. It's been around for years, but you know you're doing something right when you pack the outside tables at 11pm on a Tuesday.
Windsor's neighbour, Prahran, is no slouch either. Check out our Pick Of The Precinct.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White