Finding the perfect cocktail bar is a real delight. There’s nothing quite like indulging in a smooth cocktail packed with flavour, zing and delivering a punch. The experience is enhanced when drinking in a chilled, relaxed venue with the right vibes and ambience.
Whether you are seeking a speakeasy-style experience with a warm and relaxed atmosphere, or looking to start off your night in a vibrant venue that gets you in that party mood, you can always find the right venue in the streets and trendy laneways of Melbourne.
Melbourne is a city not only renowned for its love of coffee, but also for its love of cool, funky, hard-to-find bars and eclectic watering holes. These bars combine years of research, experimentation and bartending excellence to deliver the perfect cocktail.
A great cocktail is not just instagram-worthy, but it also encourages you to relish the sensory experience itself (imagine that) of taste, visual appeal, smell, temperature, mouth-feel and alcoholic ‘buzz’.
Once you’ve witnessed first hand the level of expertise that goes into making the best cocktails, it’s easier to appreciate the artisanal excellence of a top bartender.
This article aims to give you pointers to finding friendly Melbourne bars that are testament to the vibrancy of Australian cocktail culture.
Cocktails are not just for the elite and they don’t have to be expensive. It’s a fallacy to believe otherwise.
Read on to find out about some of our favourite cocktail bars in the whole of Melbourne.
If you’re simply looking for a great place to drink, see our post on the Best Bars in Melbourne
Location: Level 1/150-156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065 Ph: (03) 9416 2229
These drinks are truly shaken or stirred with excellence. This bar exemplifies the ‘golden era’ of cocktails by utilising just four main ingredients.
Their short (but sweet) menu doesn’t contain any vodka, instead they boast a small selection of Strawberry Daiquiris, Light Rum and Maraschino options.
This may be a surprise to hardened vodka lovers but it’s been claimed that, once you have tried one of their Daiquiris, you’ll never want to try another vodka based cocktail again!
I’m not so sure myself, but can attest that The Everleigh does make exceedingly good cocktails.
Location: 3-5 Hosier Ln, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9663 3038
This late-night Spanish-inspired bodega is located at 3-5 Hosier Lane, in the CBD, alongside the famous and funky street art that always draws a crowd.
Inside there is jamon on the bar, fresh sherry and beer on ice and tins of Spanish seafood lining the shelves. Bar Tini is inspired by Spain’s best bars and bodegas where you wander in for a few bites of excellent food and a glass of something refreshing.
Bar Tini is dynamic, young and authentically Spanish. The Sangria, as you would expect, is excellent – inexpensive, zesty and refreshing, but my favourite cocktail here is the Bloody Asier (Refreshing Gin Bloody Mary Gazpacho, Manzanilla & Prawn Salt). Spendid!
Editor’s Note: We have recently been informed that Bar Tini is currently closed. We will let you know when this changes.
Location: Level 1/306 Smith Street Chopper Lane (behind Beermash, through the back door), Collingwood, VIC 3066
The bar at Above Board is located in the centre of a small room with a small number of seats facing the well-respected bartender, Hayden Lambert. This man knows how to artistically craft the best cocktails in Melbourne and you will not be disappointed!
After all, he didn’t win Time Out Magazine’s ‘Best Bartender of the Year’ for no reason. This guy knows his stuff and whilst you may need to fight for a seat to watch him craft his excellence, the end product will undoubtedly speak for itself.
Fancy overlooking the Yarra River whilst you sip a Margarita? See our review of the Transit Rooftop Bar
Location: 211 La Trobe St, Tenancy GD075, Melbourne, VIC 3000
This bar serves wonderfully experimental cocktails and as such, there is no other quite like it in the whole of Melbourne. Their cocktails are shrouded in crushed linen and are highly unique and tantalising.
They also have a strong grasp of seasonality and this makes this venue stand out even more than it already does. Definitely one to try.
Oh. And did we mention that not only do we think it’s one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne, but others do too? After all, this fascinating venue has once multiple awards.
Location: 304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC 3055 Ph: 0488 304 304
The motto of the Black Pearl is to make phenomenal cocktails and infuse them with a vibrant atmosphere. This bar contains lots of vintage glass to add further nuance and class.
Whatever cocktail your mind can concoct, the Black Pearl will undoubtedly have an option to fulfil your every wish. Let your ship set sail into the ranks of drunken treasure as you will undoubtedly want more than one cocktail once you have tried the Black Pearl’s specialties!
Location: Shop/3 Driver Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
This rustic venue with beautifully crafted booths laden with arching bricks comes complete with old-school black and white photographs, candle light and low-lamps.
This undoubtedly provides it with one of the cosiest atmospheres in the whole of Melbourne and makes it the perfect location for an intimate gathering of friends or date night.
You can also custom make your Martini and watch it come served in a beautifully chilled and delicate wine glass that has been prepared with liquid nitrogen. You will not be disappointed.
Perhaps you’d prefer to go up, rather than down for your next cocktail? Here are our favourite Rooftop Bars in Melbourne.
Location: 1 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 8393 9367
Not easy to find, located down a little laneway and hidden behind a discrete entrance door, this is a gem of a bar.
Eau De Vie loves to freeze, shake or set alight its cocktails. This makes it a truly unique experience as you never quite know what to expect from your next visit. They also have an entire room dedicated to whisky. In fact, they currently host a number of whisky-tasting related events.
The speakeasy style interior is filled with sounds of wholesome jazz music and beautiful drinks. What more could you ask for?
It’s one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne for a reason.
If you fancy adding some theatrics to your home cocktail game, the Cocktail Smoker Kit with Wood Chips & Tall Glass Dome will get your family and friends talking!
Location: 270 Russell St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9654 1284
The standout feature of this bar is their incredible customer service. Staff here are always attentive and more than happy to talk you through their cocktail menu without a single sigh.
They also import rare liquor and sell it as shots or in the bottle. These rare ingredients are also used in their wonderful cocktails and you will be sure to taste (and feel) the difference.
Location: 10 Russell Pl, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9654 0533
This bar is lit with low blue lighting to give it a uniquely cool ambience. It boasts an extensive collection of whiskey, worldly wines and an impressive list of gins (hence the name).
Choose from the classics like Bombay or London dry style gins or you can go for the more comprehensively botanical options like Hendricks. They also freeze their Martini ingredients for 2 days which provides these cocktails with the perfect frosting!
Location: 16 Russell Pl, Melbourne, VIC 2000
Just next door to the Gin Palace sits her mural adorned sister establishment, Bar Ampere.
As striking as the Gin Palace but in a completely different way, this watering hole features a large, covered alcove out the front – daubed in eye-catching artwork. In contrast, the lime-yellow hued interior is sparkly, but tiny.
And the drinks menu is a touch unusual too. Whilst there are a smattering of cocktails, the main focus at Bar Ampere is on Aperitifs, Digestives and Absinthe.
Couple this with a burger and bar snack food menu that the kitchen are happy to put together until the wee small hours of the morning, and Bar Ampere is another must-try venue. Pop it on your list of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne.
Location: 1A Crossley St, Melbourne VIC 3000 Ph: 0457 673 647
This bar boasts a warm, friendly ambience. It’s selling point is its ability to host intimate drinking sessions and private meetings in a cosy atmosphere. Their cocktails are refined and beautifully flavoursome ensuring that you will want to savour every single sip.
A standout drink is the Cardinal that contains Sipsmith Gin, Cocci American and Aperol served over ice. The result is a thirst quenching combination of Negroni and Martini!
Editor’s Note Update: Romeo Lane has sadly closed. However, the good news is that one of its founders, Joe Jones, is moving into Fitzroy’s Poodle Upstairs as Bar Caniche for September and October. For more information, please hit the Poodle Bar link here.
Location: 20 Presgrave Pl, Melbourne, VIC 3000
This bar takes its inspiration from those Europeans who discovered American alcohol and brought those influences home to Europe. It utilises recipes from old-school cocktail books including one from 1917 and the bartenders here are more than dedicated to perfecting their craft.
If you are seeking an Americanised experience that still has hints of Australian culture, then this is the bar for you. Their drinks are generous and the recipes used have been around for centuries for a very specific reason – they work.
If you find yourself in the suburbs, why not check out Camberwell’s Running Postman Wine Bar?
Editor’s Note Update: We are heart-broken to confirm that after 11 years of serving some one of the best Negronis in town, Bar Americano closed in late 2022. However, for another exiting drinking spot to try, see below…
Location: 139-141 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Whether or not this spot deserves the name ‘cocktail bar’ is probably up for debate. But it’s a bar and it serves cocktails – amongst other libations – so that’s good enough for us.
Why are we willing to stretch the rules for this diminutive drinking den, set in a tiny old cottage? Because this charmingly unique little watering hole has been named amongst the Best Bars in the World.
Cocktails-wise, there are only 6 – 3 classic and 3 contemporary. All delicious. There is also a handful of wines and some beers on tap, with the suitably dense Guinness a firm favourite.
And did we mention the fabulously friendly and knowledgeable staff and awesome vinyl-centric sound system?
Add to this one of the coolest vibes of any bar in a city that likes to think it invented cool and you’ll understand why Caretaker’s Cottage makes our take on the top cocktail bars in Melbourne.
Location: 80 Collins St via, 11 Benson Walk, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 8393 9367
This cocktail bar embodies every essence of Gatsby. It has a playful approach to its cocktail making (including a ton of liquid nitrogen) and for those even more sophisticated (or rich) drinkers, you can also choose from their extensive range of Champagnes.
The fictional crime fighting duo that the bar takes it name from – Nick & Nora Charles – also gave their name to a style of cocktail glass. For a selection of these timeless drinking vessels and more, click here.
The space itself is rich in art deco glamour, with the elaborate wooden ceiling particularly striking. What’s more, Nick & Nora’s also has 3 outdoor terraces, perfect for long, balmy evenings spent enjoying drinks and canapes with friends.
Which brings us to the food. This spot has classy nibbles to match the sophisticated drinks. From Porcini and Truffle Tarts to Beef Tartar with Basil Chimichurri & Dehydrated Egg Yolks.
You will definitely feel like you are enjoying the high life when visiting Nick & Nora’s and this bar is the perfect venue for work events and gatherings of friends and family alike.
Lastly, this establishment also has a sibling in the Harbour City – Nick & Nora’s Sydney. For more on the Best Cocktail Bars in Sydney, click here.
Location: 13 Heffernan Ln, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Union Electric prides itself on using only the freshest produce and cocktail ingredients. Many bars will avoid this as it means that they need to spend more money on produce more frequently, however, Union Electric doesn’t compromise on it’s morals for a quick buck.
They use fresh fruit, herbs and only house-made syrup and this gives their cocktails an unbeatable, fresh taste. They are also inexpensive, despite their use of fresh ingredients, and for only $11 you can try their exquisite pressed apple juice mixed with a blend of gin, whisky or rum.
Chin Chin is known for it’s fabulous food and great vibes, but it also has the cool GoGo Bar downstairs. Read our review Chin Chin, here.
Location: 1 Flinders Ln, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9654 5465
This charmingly sophisticated bar takes it’s influences from Japanese culture and the extensive cocktail list is reflective of this. Here cocktails are served over large orbs of ice and their plum infused gin is to die for. You’d be a fool to sleep on this one!
Editor’s Note: We have recently been informed that Hihou is currently closed. We will let you know when this changes. As this is the case, let us tell you about one of our new favourite watering-holes:
Location: Level 2/169 Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Is there a more quintessentially Melbourne experience than discovering a fabulous cocktail bar behind an unmarked metal door on a stairwell? Probably not.
What we do know though, is that Bouvardia Cocktail Bar is definitely worth checking out.
With moody lighting, plush, dusty pink chairs and banquettes and a stunner of a green marble bar, the decor is sophisticated. And an accurate indication of the liquid delights to come. For the drinks list at Bouvardia is utterly unique.
Whilst featuring only 10 cocktails, each is a little wonder in a glass. Sustainability and desire to use local produce has resulted in a selection of drinks where unusual ingredients and flavourings are combined to produce genuinely memorable concoctions.
So the B.A.B. features Black Apple, Basil and Australian Brandy, with the apple being vacuum-packed for 8 weeks before it’s ready to use. Meanwhile, the brilliantly named Not All Cucumbers Wear Capes contains Acidified Cucumber, Capers, Fennel Seed and Gin and is a big, fruity, sherberty, aniseedy explosion in a glass.
It retrospect, it’s a good thing Bouvardia only makes 10 cocktails. When they are this delicious, the urge to try them all could be hard to fight – and very dangerous!
Take note: Bouvardia is without doubt one of the best cocktail bar in Melbourne.
We are thrilled to share that Bouvardia is the winner of the Time Out Food & Drink Awards 2023: Best Cocktail Bar Award.
For clever flavour combinations, superb skills, originality and polished sophistication, it’s impossible to ignore the brilliance of Bouvardia.
Editor’s Note: Bouvardia also has an interesting sister venue, upstairs on the roof terrace of the same building…
Pomelo Rooftop has a limited range of cocktails and beers, ciders and wines. However, it also serves canned seltzers and spritzes. Now stay with us. These aren’t your regular tinnies. The contents are made by those clever people at Bouvardia with the left-overs from their cocktails. They then can the drinks in-house and carry them up on to Pomelo Rooftop.
Location: 139-141 Greeves St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Bad Frankie uses only native ingredients in their drinks. These include muntries, guondongs, finger limes. They pride themselves on only using local produce.
The use of native ingredients sets this bar apart as an authentically Native Australian venue that champions its influences to the heights. It also only stops Australian spirits for added authenticity.
Make sure you include it on your list of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne.
Location: 334 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065 Ph: 0418 708 369
We’re finishing our skim through the best cocktail bars in Melbourne with a shrine to sugarcane-based alcohol.
This menu contains every style of rum that you could possibly imagine, ranging from the overtly sweet Zacapa XO to the more striking flavour of raw Agricole.
Their cocktails are phenomenal and their Pina Colada, infused with spiced rum and chargrilled pineapple is a must-try! You will definitely taste and feel these cocktails but it is so worth it!
Location: 108 Chapel St, Windsor, VIC 3181 Ph: (03) 9077 4407
The bonus option on this list is the Woods of Windsor. This bar contains lots of interesting taxidermy to gaze at whilst you sip on one of their finest whiskeys from a list of over 50 options. Their Mad Margarita will be sure to set your senses on fire (in every sense of the word!)
Take your drinks outside and don’t worry about bugs getting into them or accidental slippage with these Drinking Glasses with Bamboo Lids & Glass Straws
Location: 40/202 Normanby Rd, Southbank, VIC 3006 Ph: 0412 594 371
Update: It seems that Sky Bar has undergone seem kind of rebrand and is now called Strato Melbourne. Well, whatever it is now called, Strato Bar & Restaurant still has gob-smacking views!
Sky Bar lives up to its name.
Sitting a dizzying 140 metres above street level in swanky new Oakwood Premier Melbourne, its views are gob-smacking.
Here, the feel is intentionally more New York than Melbourne. There’s a stunning 16 metre stone bar set on shimmering glass bricks and there are royal blue banquettes and plush stools a plenty. However, it’s what’s going on outside the 7 metre tall, floor-to-ceiling windows that’s the star attraction.
Importantly, Sky Bar has 360 degree views. And outside terraces for those warm summer evenings that Melbourne is famous for.
Not surprisingly, the rockstar views come with a rockstar price tag.
Bar Snacks include Foie Gras Macaroons ($25) and Spiced Corn Ribs (($21). As for the Cocktails, the Sky High Martini ($28) is an interesting take on the old classic, with Never Never Oyster Shell Gin, Verjuice and Oloroso Sherry.
This is the place to take visitors when you want to wow them.
Though it’s the new kid on the block, in terms of it’s impact, it’s definitely one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne.
Book ahead for a spot at sunset, order a drink and kick-back. We bet you feel like the rockstar you’ve always dreamed of being.
Talking of superb food, you can read our review of Farmer’s Daughters right here.
To conclude, Melbourne boasts a wide range of cocktail bars that serve some of the finest, most delicious cocktails that you will have experienced.
Whether you are looking for a speakeasy style venue with a cosy ambience for yourself and your partner or a larger venue with embellished glasses and a more sophisticated feel, you will definitely find the right spot for you from the venues that we have listed above.
Melburnians are as passionate about their bars and cocktails as they are about their coffee-culture. This is a great drinking city 😉