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.
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 temporarily 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.
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!
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.
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.
The speakeasy style interior is filled with sounds of wholesome jazz music and beautiful drinks! What more could you ask for?
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: 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: We have recently been informed that Romeo Lane has closed. The good news is that there are rumours the team will be reappering elsewhere. We’ll let you know when we know more.
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!
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.
You will definitely feel like you are sipping in the heights when visiting Nick & Nora’s and this bar is the perfect spot for work events and gatherings of friends and family alike.
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.
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.
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 it’s influences to the heights. It also only stops Australian spirits for added authenticity.
Location: 334 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065 Ph: 0418 708 369
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!)
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 😉