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Beechworth’s old-fashioned soda bar with a cheeky hidden secret

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images supplied

Bringing back the nostalgia of the local soda bar serving up your favourite ice cream spiders, sodas and milkshakes, Billson’s Soda Bar in the Victorian High Country region of Beechworth is hiding a cheeky secret only accessible with a password.

Soda Bar

What was once a printing press has been transformed into Billson’s Soda Bar, an old-fashioned experience where a bartender serves up all your favourite Billson’s cordials from a selection far beyond what you’ll find in your local supermarket.

The enormous range of cordials is created just a short stroll away at the historic Billson’s Beechworth brewery where pure spring water, filtered through Beechworth granite helps create handcrafted beer, small batch gins and liqueur, a range of cordials including flavours both traditional and not-so-traditional such as Cloves and Peppermint, Pine Lime and Grape Bubblegum, sodas and the hugely popular premixed spirit drinks.

The brewery itself is well worth the visit for the opportunity to take the popular tour and learn about the brewery’s fascinating history and visit their tasting room and taste every drink they make, for free. You can also order from their casual dining menu, or treat your dog to a day out in the beer garden. And while these things alone make the road trip well worth the journey, it’s the Soda Bar’s cheeky cocktail lounge hidden behind a cool room door that’s certain to delight.

Beechworth Bar

Accessible by adults only using the password, (hint: it’s hidden somewhere on their website) the elegant Isabella’s Cocktail Bar is named for the enterprising woman behind the Billson’s name. She and her husband George travelled from England to California and Bendigo in search of gold in the 1850s and began a legacy in Beechworth by building a brewery and brand that has carried through the years.

While you’re visiting, try their signature 50/50 cocktail. Called “a gentle approach to a classic martini” it uses the signature small batch Isabella’s Gin, aged for three months in muscat barrels and sold exclusively at Billson’s cellar door in Beechworth.

Pop in for a cheeky cocktail or book reservations to enjoy dinner courtesy of Chef Douglas Elder’s seasonal menu designed to pair with the drinks list. You’ll also discover a wine inspired by the surrounding King Valley and Rutherglen regions.

High Country Restaurant

The recently launched Billson’s Cocktail Class, is an immersive hands-on two-hour session where groups of up to 10 are taken through the fundamental techniques of shaking, stirring and of course, sipping various spirits, flavours and garnishes. Led by Billson’s own bartenders, you’ll create three fabulous cocktails using your new skills, paired with canapes and cheeses. Afterwards, you’ll want to stock up on cordials to re-create these delicious beauties at home.

Held on Sunday afternoons and priced at $89 per person, it’s also a great group activity that can be booked privately for a special celebration such as hen’s parties, birthdays and corporate events. Don’t drink? Book a $79 ticket and learn how to whip up some incredibly delicious mocktails.  

Beechworth is a three-hour drive from the Melbourne CBD via the M31 Hume Freeway. Take the Great Alpine Road B500 to Tarrawingee and the C315 to Beechworth.


What: Isabella’s at Billson’s Soda Bar
When: Open 12 pm – 10 pm, Thursday to Monday, Cocktail classes are Sundays or by private booking
Where: 37 Camp Street, Beechworth, VIC, 3747
More Info: Billsons

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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