Hidden down laneways, on rooftops, in basements, and up flights of stairs, Melbourne’s bar scene is one of the most eclectic in Australia. From classic speak-easys, to iconic pubs, to pop-up venues; while one never knows where the next great drinking spot will happen, here’s some tried and tested favourites.
1806 was the year the word ‘cocktail’ first appeared in print, and this bar is like a history lesson in spirits. Originally a theatre, today young mixologists deliver the performances – serving blazing, fizzing and twizzled concoctions, accompanied by stories about the origin of each drink.
Paris Cat Jazz Club
The speak-easy style interior of this club is like a 1930s Parisian jazz museum. Live performances each night cover the full scope of jazz, from traditional classics to the latest generation of artists. A great place for ‘hip cats’ to swing into the early hours.
Climb the flights of stairs to the Rooftop Bar on Curtain House’s seventh floor, pull up a deckchair, order a cocktail, and admire the fabulous views of the city skyline. In summer, the hugely popular Rooftop Cinema screens cult classics, and the latest blockbuster movies.
Young and Jackson
Worth stopping in for a drink, even if only to soak in a little Victorian history, and admire the famous ‘Chloe’ painting. Young and Jackson is one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs, and has more than 30 beers and ciders on tap, including imported and boutique brews.
The Crafty Squire
Home of the famous James Squire Brewhouse, The Crafty Squire is a fine example of a true ‘local’ pub, and the only working microbrewery in the Melbourne CBD. Taste unique craft beers and take a brewery tour to learn how the whole process works.
The Esplanade Hotel
‘The Espy’ as it’s affectionately known, is a true Aussie pub overlooking the bay at St Kilda, with pool tables, and live music venues featuring local and international bands. There’s no dress code at this shabby-chic establishment, considered by many to be a national treasure.
Eau De Vie (EDV)
Hidden down Malthouse Lane behind a rather clandestine-looking non-marked door, this relative newcomer to Melbourne’s cocktail scene boasts more than 700 types of spirits. The whisky lounge serves 200 different single malts, but the action is at the bar, with all its shaking and stirring.
This art deco cocktail bar on the edge of Chinatown, oozes vintage glamour. Pre-Prohibition cocktails are the house specialty, such as the Old Fashioned, served hot or cold and made with a choice of cognac, rum, bourbon or scotch; or avant-garde concoctions like Suzy Q.
City Wine Shop
At the top of Spring Street, City Wine Shop is Melbourne’s answer to a traditional Italian wine bar. Pull up a seat and sample a glass from the wide assortment of local and European wines; complemented by delicious tapas-style share plates and cheeses.
Through the unmarked door of the Melbourne Supper Club and up the grand staircase, Siglo is something of a Melbourne institution. Top class wines and international beers, along with snacks, are served at tables on the rooftop terrace, alongside rare views of Melbourne’s old-world architecture.