As a city renowned for its laneway bars and secret drinking haunts, Melbourne offers watering holes for all tastes and budgets and many of the best bars in Australia.
The bars in Melbourne range from world-class cocktail bars to downtown saloons and fancy wine bars. Most offer a warm ambiance, welcoming bar staff, a buzzing atmosphere and delicious small plate menus to to satisfy your hunger.
But which ones are worth the visit? We’ve narrowed down our choices to 15 of our favourite bars. To do so, we’ve taken into consideration budgets, location, atmosphere, food options and our own highly subjective gut-feel.
The result is a rundown of interesting, eclectic and vibrant Melbourne bars, and a guide that should provide a suitable drinking hole for every reader.
We can’t promise that your taste will be the same as ours, but we can vouch that each bar on this list plays its part in the cultural fabric of Melbourne nightlife. And we guarantee that, wherever you end up, you’re in for a good night. So let’s dive in…
Location: Level 1, 306 Smith Street, Collingwood, VIC 3066
We’re kicking off the list of the best bars in Melbourne with this small and intimate cocktail bar located in an inner-city suburb. With only 16 seats, when we say intimate, we mean intimate. Despite this meaning no large groups or bookings are allowed, this bar offers the perfect setting for a date night or catching up with an old friend.
Chat with Lambert to hear about the delicious cocktails he can make you but also a little of his life with every drink he serves. As the bar faces all 16 seats, enjoying his yarns s easy.
If you’re looking for something that’s both welcoming and personal, look no further than Above Board.
Partial to a splash of gin? Why not try making one of these Classic Gin Cocktails at home?
Location: Level 2, 70 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9453 2882
Located on Bourke Street, Good Heavens is a rooftop bar and the ultimate summer hot stop. The vibe of the bar resembles Palm Springs in California with its pink signage and pastel blues.
The staff even dress in Hawaiin Shirts and promise to shake you up some vintage tipples at the bar which is located on a central island.
They also offer bright, fruity, retro cocktails from their own take on a Pina Colada to an Electric Blue. If you’re looking for a taste of tropical paradise, Good Heavens could be your match.
Location: 234a Russell Street, (Lonsdale Corner), Melbourne CBD, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9041 0856
If you’re looking for the ultimate party experience, look no further than Heartbreaker located on Russell Street.
Named the home of rock ‘n’ roll, this dive bar sweeps you up with shot after shot, rocking music and beer chasers. There’s even a late-night New York slice, promising you an all-around great night out. No wonder it’s considered one of the best bars in Melbourne.
The concept of the bar is well-executed and Michael Madrusan, the owner, knows how to set the scene. If you want to let your hair down and go all out, Heartbreaker is the place to be.
Whilst we are on the subject of pizza, here are our top Pizza Joints in Melbourne.
Location: 78 Cecil Street, South Melbourne, VIC 3205
Hats and Tatts is a rare find in south Melbourne, offering delicious food, great drinks, staff that are as welcoming as they are entertaining, and very diverse spaces.
It’s not just a frat bar as some people may at first think. Here, you’ll find a huge whiskey collection, as well as some of the best cocktails in the city and taps full of beer.
Grabbing the attention of men, women, old and young there is something for everyone at Hats and Tatts and we can not recommend it enough.
Do you love a good doughnut? See our guide to the best Doughnut Shops in Melbourne.
Location: 55 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9650 9979
Located on Little Bourke Steet, this late-night mezcal bar and taqueria is hidden underground. But don’t let that stop you. This place serves up some of the greatest drinks and tacos around and is a worthy entrant on our best bars in Melbourne list.
Dramatically, an ominous red neon glow highlights the location. As you head down the stairs, be prepared for traditional posters from the golden age of Mexican cinema. Once inside, the tables and stools that are more cantina than a bar, and fast-paced music blares through the speakers.
For the ultimate Mexican party experience, we promise Bodega Underground is worth the trip.
Want to try some more Mexican fare? These are our favourite Mexican Restaurants in Melbourne.
Embla and Lesa Restaurant
Location: 122 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000 / Ph: (03) 9654 5923
Embla is a hugely popular wine bar, right in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, serving unusual and quirky wines with an inventive, modern small-plate menu.
Embla has got a distressed-brick look, is dark and atmospheric, homely and friendly and yet chic and trendy. It’s not an easy combination to get right, but Embla pulls it off with ease.
We like to start our evening upstairs at the sister restaurant, Lesa, before finishing our evening sipping wine and cocktails in Embla’s welcoming ground-floor embrace.
Embla came first, and its consistent popularity convinced the Kiwi expat owners to open Lesa restaurant in the vacant first floor space upstairs.
We highly recommend trying Lesa. It has a the same exposed brick decor and sombre lighting, but also boasts an open-kitchen producing amazing, eclectic and unusual fine dining fare.
Lesa is more of a formal restaurant, compared to the casual wine bar feel of dining downstairs at Embla.
Lesa is modern Australian fine dining, not cheap, but very innovative. It’s considerably quieter than Embla downstairs, allowing for more conversation and a better environment for a classy and convivial dinner.
Visit both and you have the perfect ingredients for a memorable Melbourne night out.
Apart from its amazing bars, Melbourne also has some outstanding cafes.
Location: 1 Reid Street, Fitzroy North, VIC 3068 Ph: (03) 9486 8306
Over in Fitzroy, Neighbourhood Wine is a first-floor bar and restaurant with an extensive 20-page wine list. Up the stairs, you’ll find vintage bar stools, brass, and tapestry and some of the most helpful staff in the wine bar community.
The wines range from local favourites to incredible imports and they even offer great accompanying food using seasonal produce. Simple, seasonal, and welcoming, this wine bar is the perfect date night or a fancy evening out for anyone.
Prefer to shake up a cocktail at home? See our Easy Cocktail Recipes.
Location: 106 Nicholson Street, Footscray, VIC 3011
Located in Footscray, another inner-city suburb, Mr. West Bar and Bottleshop offers some of the best craft beer, cocktails, and high-quality wine in the city.
Not only can you buy bottles to take home, but upstairs lies a bar with 30 taps pouring wine, cocktails, beer, and cider from around the world. In addition, it offers Australian and international wines by the bottle or glass as well as over 300 special spirits and a seasonal cocktail list.
A clear passion for drink flows through the bar and wine shop and we promise with so much to choose from, you’ll definitely be going back for more.
Feel like a good steak? Here are some of our to go Steak Restaurants in Melbourne.
Location: 12 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Angel Music Bar offers the best of 2 exciting worlds. This place combines the talents of Con Christopoulos, the powerful restaurateur, and Georgina O’Connor, one of the city’s best-dressed Gen-Y Artists.
Though this might seem like an odd pairing, they’ve brought together one of the liveliest bars in Melbourne, located where the old Korova Milk Bar used to sit.
As the name suggests, the great music is the bar’s selling point. You know a bar is serious when its music it played out of Funktion One Speakers. Not surprisingly, this is one of the best bars in Melbourne to dance the night away.
Keen to dance the night away at a Rooftop Bar? Here are some of our regular haunts in Melbourne.
To make a great drink – be it a healthy smoothie, or a delicious cocktail – you need the right equipment. Blend up ice and more like a pro with the Ninja 2-in-1 Blender with Auto-iQ.
Location: 211 La Trobe St, GD075, Melbourne, VIC 3000
If you are looking for something creative, something a bit unique, something which can be compared more to a lab than a bar, you’re going to want to visit Byrdi.
The techniques they use include smoking, fermenting, and clarifying which make for thrilling results and an all-around exciting evening. They use in-house ferments and focus on seasonality without following trends.
We love this place and its imaginative cocktails. What more can we say?
Byrdi is a bar you don’t want to miss if you want to keep things interesting.
Heading to the Queensland capital and wondering where to grab a drink? These are some of the Best Bars in Brisbane.
Location: Level 2 161 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9654 6631
Siglo is a famous rooftop bar located on top of the Melbourne Supper Club. From its elevated position, it offers spectacular views of Spring Street and Parliament House.
Not only does the bar pour some excellent cocktails, champagne, and spirits, but they also have their own cigar menu and a humidor of Cubans.
You will be served by waiters at clothed tables and guests can take a seat in Parisian wicker chairs or wooden garden furniture. This is a great bar for taking a break out of a long sunny day in the city.
Feel like sitting with a coffee for an hour or 2? See our recommendations for the best Coffee Shops in Melbourne.
Location: 1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: 0482 959 255
This wine bar, located on Flinders Lane was opened by Simon Denton in a building opposite Fitzroy Gardens. An intimate wine bar and bottle shop, it offers a small food menu of only six dishes and a true Japanese ethos.
The staff pride themselves on being friendly and approachable and with an affordable yet extensive wine list it’s perfect for everyone.
Are you yearning for Japanese food tonight? See our rundown of the Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne.
Location: 66A Gold Street, Collingwood, VIC 3066 Ph: (03) 9551 8244
More of a refurbished pub than a bar, Goldy’s Tavern promises an authentic Australian drinking experience.
Order one of their Aussie cocktails such as ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’ or take part in a weekly pool competition before taking a seat in the plant-filled atrium and ordering some spicy mussel “schnitzels”.
And if you’ve got room for dessert, we recommend the Goldy’s Gaytime to round off a classic Australian pub experience.
Are you a sucker for something sweet? Here are our top Dessert Shops in Melbourne.
Location: 28 Culverlands Street, Heidelberg West, Vic 3081 / Tel: (03) 9440 5426 Open: Every Fridays 4pm-Late
Kooinda Brewery is located in an industrial lot in the north-east Melbourne suburb of Heidelberg and across the road from La Trobe University. Only open on Fridays (except for private functions), this is a chilled, laid-back, little known venue that is perfect for an end-of-working-week beer or three.
Kooinda brews excellent craft beer, particularly the legendary Black IPA, and you’ll likely have seen the brand in pubs and bottle shops.
This brewery bar is a well-kept secret, seemingly known only to locals and uni students. It’s not a glamorous venue, being a working craft brewery after all, but is a fun place to be on a Friday night.
You’ll get live music, food from nearby catering trucks and DJs providing the tunes. Pay a visit to enjoy great craft beer, recycled furniture, ping pong and old-school video arcade games.
For a glass of vino in a chilled space accompanied by classic Italian antipasti, try Agostino wine bar in Carlton.
Editor’s Note: The Kooinda Brewery Bar has been reported as closed. We will update when we know more. As this is the case, we’ve added another option for you to consider. As this is the case, why not try this swish venue instead…?
Location: In the Rialto, Level 55, 525 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9691 3888
One word. Views.
From its enviable spot on Level 55 of the Rialto, Lui Bar commands some of the most stunning views in all of Melbourne.
However, as this is part of acclaimed Chef Shannon Bennett’s Vue de Monde, the drinks and nibbles are pretty stellar too. And the interior design is sutiably plush and classy as well. With that in mind, it has to be said that you won’t be getting a round in here on the cheap. In fact, there’s a minimum spend of $50pp after 5pm – just in time for the full glory of the sunset.
Yes. This is a special occasion kind of bar. But then we all need one of those every now and then and Lui Bar has lots to recommend it.
Of the Signature Cocktails, plenty of online reviews rave bout Lui’s Lamington – an Aussie-inspried concoction of Pampero Rum, cacao, Coconut, Coffee & Raspberry. Food-wise, we’d have to go with the Western Australian Marron Roll, just because.
For some of the best desserts you’ll ever taste, check out Tarts Anon.
Location: 1 Flinders Walk, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9614 0023
In downtown Melbourne, a spot on the bank of the Yarra River is a prime piece of real estate. And the Arbory Bar & Eatery really makes the most of its coveted riverside position.
This bar is all about the outside space. On a sunny afternoon, it’s a great place to grab a spot on the deck, order a drink and watch the comings and goings along the waterfront.
Unlike many of the other venues on this best bars in Melbourne list, the Arbory is open from 7am until 1am daily. Given this, it serves a rolling menu of dishes that cover Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner and Late Night.
All of the above makes the Arbory Bar and Eatery worth an hour or 2 of your time. However, the establishment’s star attraction is rolled out for the warmer weather of Spring and Summer…(see Arbory Afloat below).
Fancy lazying around, eating and drinking into the afternoon? See our recommendations for the Best Bottomless Brunch Spots in Melbourne
Take your entertaining to the next level with these fabulous Bar Accessories. There’s everything from cocktail making kits to ice buckets and beer coolers.
Location: 2, Flinders Walk, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9629 1547
Melbourne’s original floating bar may only have been launched 7 years ago, but it’s already a summer institution.
With 2 bars on one deck and a very popular upper level floating pool bar, it’s the place to be seen once the warmer days arrive.
Wanting to keep Arbory Afloat fresh, the owners like to give the floating bar a theme. Last season was all about the Spain’s glorious Balearic Islands. In contrast, this time around they are taking us south of the border with Viva Mexico Afloat.
What does this mean? Think Tacos and Tostas, Salads, Empanadas and piles of fresh Guacamole. Meanwhile, the drinks menu carries a range of Agave-based Cocktails, along side regular Cocktails, Wines, Spritzs and Non-Alcoholic tipples.
Arbory Afloat is already open for the season and has a number of exciting events already booked in for the summer. Our tip? Get in early for the Day of the Dead celebration. It’s bound to be a party and a half! See the website for details.
Do you like to shake up a cocktail at home yourself? Check out this stylish Bar Set. It even includes Australian cocktail recipe cards.
Location: 1A Crossley Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: 0457 673 647
Romeo lane, located on Crossley Lane in the heart of Melbourne offers intimate table service, serving some of the best cocktails in the city. Well, this highly-rated spot is definitely one of the best bars in Melbourne, so what do you expect?
You’ll find a balance between comfort and class as all these cocktails are served in beautiful glassware. Even better, you’ll find Tom Waits on the stereo and they even have an open fireplace to warm you up on colder nights.
The extensive drinks menu ranges from all-time favourites, which regulars can recall from older menus, to classic cocktails to brand new recipes. Simply ask the staff for recommendations or tell them what you love and they’ll create something magical.
Do you love a touch of Baileys on a chilly evening? Why not rustle up one of our Baileys Cocktails?
Editor’s Update: We’re sad to report that Romeo Lane has closed. However, Joe Jones, one of its founders, is in residence at Fitzroy’s Poodle Upstairs as Bar Caniche during September and October. Hit the Poodle Bar link here for info.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a gorgeous bar with cut-edge cocktails, read on…
Location: Level 2/168 Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
We’re calling it. Bouvardia Cocktail Bar is our favourite Melbourne bar at the moment. And we’re amazed that so few people appear to know about it.
Enter from Bourke St, clomp up the stairs and push through the door into one of the most beautiful drinking dens in town. The decor is a mix of malachite green marble with dusky pink accents in the plush furnishings. The lighting is subtle and enhances the bar’s sophisticated, opulent ambience.
And then there’s the drinks.
Bouvardia has a sister bar just upstairs on the a terrace open to the stars. Read our review of Pomelo Rooftop here.
Talk to the incredibly knowledgeable bar staff and they will quickly explain that Bouvardia is all about pushing the boundaries of cocktail making. Produce and process are the key cornerstones of every creation with an emphasis on sustainability and innovation. It might sound a bit Willy Wonka on acid, but the results are stunning – and truly delicious – glasses of wonder.
And so the brilliantly named Dweller in the Gulf is a fruity concoction of tepache, pineapple falernum, honey + soy, pork, dyed charcoal black with cuttlefish ink. If the thought of animal products in your beverage freaks you out, don’t panic. The result is one of the most sublime pineapple punches you’ll ever taste.
Location: 270 Russell Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9654 1284
Found on Russell Street, Whiskey and Alement is a whiskey bar and world class drinking venue.
Every bartender you find at the bar will be more than happy to help you out if you’re new to the whiskey world. The bar even has access to the limited edition Scotch Malt Whiskey Society single cask bottlings.
Without this bar, you would need to pay at least $200 for a bottle. Instead, simply pop along to Whiskey and Alement to buy it by the nip and taste it for a price that is much more budget-friendly.
Is there a whisky lover in your house? Or perhaps you’re looking for a whisky-themed gift? This Whisky Stones and Glasses Gift Set makes the perfect present.
Little Odessa / now Luckys Lasagna & Bar
Location: 274 Rear, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy 3065 Ph: (03) 9417 0526
Little Odessa was a charming bar and bistro in trendy Fitzroy.
Conceived out of a love for humble hospitality, local organic produce, progressive cooking techniques and natural wine, Little Odessa was a neighbourhood favourite and very much an expression of the cultural heritage of founders Stef and Sofia Soltys.
We were long fans of the Hungarian and Ukranian-inspired bar and eatery. Eastern European cuisine has long been neglected in Melbourne, and it was comforting to be able to cosy up with Borscht, salmon tartare and a glass of Georgina tsistka on a winter’s night in the city.
However, the Soltys siblings pivoted their bar during Covid. Little Odessa has now been reborn as Lucky’s Lasagna & Bar. Still the same great location and venue, but now another food concept to focus on.
Italian cuisine is now the cornerstone (think Negroni cocktails, Peroni and Moretti beers, Trebbiano and Dolcetto wines) and the bar now serves homemade lasagna, handmade ricotta gnocchi and many vegan-friendly bar treats (we particularly recommend the smoked gouda).
This is a bar with both atmosphere and heart. If you’re in the area, Lucky’s Lasagna and Bar is well worth a visit.
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Location: Level 3, 59-63 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: 0490 258 530
Madame Brussels is not only the final rooftop bar on our list but the final bar on our list. This is a fancy-looking terrace bar and public house located in the heart of the Australian city.
The bar pays a tribute to the Madame herself, who was a Melbourne brothel owner and entrepreneur in the 19th century. This illustrious lady was famous for her sensational attitude and unconventional lifestyle.
Decked with AstroTurf, parasols, and timber furniture, the bar is a favourite with visitors and locals alike and you are promised plenty of sun, booze, and fun times all night long.
Little wonder it rounds off our list of the best bars in Melbourne.
Do you love the zingy flavours of Vietnamese cuisine? Here are our top Vietnamese Restaurants in Melbourne.
New bar openings
Location: 625 Camberwell Rod, Camberwell, VIC 3124 Ph: (03) 9654 6526
Away from Melbourne’s famously hip centre, the once dowdy suburbs are also coming alive with new bars.
Over in sleepy Camberwell, La Perla is offering a thoughtfully curated, Italian-focused wine list and some mean cocktails.
And then there’s their evening pizzas. Puffy based, flavoursome combinations like Wagyu Bresaola, Sugo, Dressed Bitter Greens & Grana Shavings, finished perfectly in their wood-fired pizza oven. Great with a cold beer or a glass of Sangiovese.
See our detailed review of La Perla here. We visited in June 2022 and were impressed.
Location: 139-141 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
This gorgeous little bar resides in – you’ve guessed it – an old caretaker’s cottage, nestled behind Wesley Church.
About an intimate as a drinking spot can get, this bar punches well above it’s weight. You see, Caretaker’s Cottage was ranked amongst the Best Bars in the World last year. A heady accolade indeed!
But really, it’s hardly surprising. The staff are super friendly, the ambience is warm yet most definitely cool – the music comes courtesy of a vinyl collection (need we say anymore?!) and the drinks list is lovingly curated.
Apart from the ever-popular liquorice-hued Guinness, there are a smattering of wines and beers on taps. And then there’s the cocktails. At Caretaker’s Cottage you’ll only find 6 mixes – 3 modern and 3 classic, plus a Martini – at a time. What’s more, there’s always a Milk Punch on the menu and having tried one, it’s a wonder more bars don’t serve versions of this quaint English tipple.
So next time you’re in the area, chance your arm and see if you can snag a corner in this divine wee place. You won’t regret it.
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