25 years ago Melbourne’s cocktail scene was fairly basic. Since then, nothing could have changed more. Melbourne, the food capital of Australia, also boasts some of the countries best cocktail bars and cocktail-focused venues. This provides us lucky enough to be in Melbourne with a huge variety of choices which while mostly a very good thing does make it more difficult to make a decision! Never fear! We’ve put together a list of our favourites to help you on your way, try one or try them all!
169 Exhibition St, Melbourne
In a building that was once a theatre restaurant but has been a variety of “interesting” of venues in between is the cocktail bar named after the year the word “cocktail” was first defined. Since it opened in 2007 1806 has been not only a beautiful venue with an excellent cocktail list but also an educational experience. Whether it is sitting in the venue talking to the ever knowledgeable staff or booking yourself in for a cocktail masterclass there is always something to learn at 1806.
1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne
Sitting behind an unassuming door in Malthouse lane is a tucked-away little whisky focused bar. Eau de Vie has developed quite the reputation as one of Melbourne’s premier cocktail bars. They have an amazing selection sitting on their back bar both of Whisky’s and other things to tickle your fancy and the knowledge of their staff is as good as anywhere. They also offer bottle lockers where you can purchase a bottle to be consumed over many visits (or at least a couple).
12 Meyers Place, Melbourne
Lily Blacks is a cocktail connoisseur’s dream. While a comfortable space, dimly lit with intimate tables they haven’t gone as crazy on the decor as some of the other venues on this list but the bar more than makes up for it. If you need any confirmation that this is a serious cocktail bar just check out the amazing bitters collection behind the excellently stocked horseshoe bar. Post work drinks on a Friday have always been a vibe as well with Lily Blacks attracting a sophisticated post-work crowd. Keep an eye out for the Iron Bartender competition as well, which is just what you would expect it to be, Iron Chef but with Drinks and is always a great night full of hospitality professionals.
The Basement, 377 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
We love escape rooms but we also love cocktails. Trapt is the place to go if this is your thing as well. Not only do they have 5 different awesome escape rooms they also have a pretty wicked bar to slake your thirst, celebrate your victories or commiserate your defeats. Each room has its own selection of cocktails. You don’t have to select ones that match the room you played but if you want to stay with the magic of The Wayward Wizard or in the Emerald City after you’ve come out of Wizard of Oz you can drink a cocktail that matches. They don’t have their own kitchen but are happy for their guests to order Pizza from the Crust above them or if you need to sneak off for dinner after a cocktail they are so close to so many food outlets
80 Collins St via 11 Benson Walk, Melbourne
What’s better than cocktails? Cocktails and Champagne. Inspired by the fiction book “The Thin Man” and its murder solving duo “Nick and Nora” Nick and Nora’s Melbourne provides the perfect venue for a decadent and fabulous party. Serving the types of food you would immediately associate with a spectacular post-prohibition part, with Oysters, Caviar and amazing cheeses all available to help space out the drinks.
Level 1, 150-156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
If you appreciate a long marble bar The Everleigh is the one you want to be sitting at – if you can find it. It’s understated entrance belies the luxury located inside that calls back to a different era. Everleigh is the place for golden-era vibes and classic cocktails. Everything here is expertly and carefully crafted for the perfect drink. They may specialise in the standards but standard is not how you would describe their cocktails!
304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
In the heart of Brunswick St in Fitzroy is this absolute gem of a cocktail bar. Now 19 years old Black Pearl was at the forefront of the Melbourne, and even the world, cocktail revolution. Amongst a collection of awards it won the 2017 spirited international cocktail bar of the year award so you know there is something you have to check out. Have a drink at the bar with the always friendly and knowledgeable bar staff or commandeer a moody seat out the back and enjoy their cocktail creations.
20 Presgrave Pl, Melbourne
Nothing shows quite how far the Melbourne drinking scene has come than its willingness to embrace an aperitif focused bar. The menu at Melbourne’s Bar Americano is always small and delightful, crafted weekly to reflect seasonality and the creative whims of the bartenders. The bar is similarly small but delightful with a ten-capacity, standing-room-only space but definitely worth a visit on a night out!
106 Hardware St, Melbourne
Do you want to be a Viking? Mjolner, named for the hammer of mighty Thor a trip to Mjolner Melbourne is the closest you can get to travelling back in time and invading England. With a healthy selection of meaty mains and viking themed cocktails Mjoler is always worth a visit. You can even really get into character and drink your beer out of a horn!
525 Collins St, Melbourne
Vue De Monde is a Melbourne food institution, it is only fitting that their cocktail bar is also world class. Also found on Level 55, the Lui Bar is one of the tallest bars in the city and boasts some of the most spectacular views. The wine list here is, as you’d expect, extensive but we think it’s the cocktails that are the stars! All the cocktails here are inspired by Australian flavours and are always expertly crafted and delicious. You’ll likely want to order more than one and they can all be enjoyed alongside bar snacks for an indulgent night out.
Level 3, 59 Bourke St, Melbourne
“Rumours of my demise were greatly exaggerated” Mark Twain. At the moment this quote feels particularly fitting when talking about Madame Brussels. Recently there was much talk of Madame Brussels the much loved Melbourne rooftop bar institution closing its doors forever. The rumours were short-lived though and soon the gaudy Madame had a new lease on life with savvy operators Thank You Come Again group (TYCA) taking over to keep the party running. Madame Brussels provides delicious cocktails and a garden party atmosphere high amongst the rooftops at the top end of Bourke St, simply fabulous.
10 Russell Pl, Melbourne
One of the oldest venues on this list, if not the oldest, Gin Palace is an opulent old lady that still delivers in spades. If a Martini is your cocktail of choice you will never be provided with more of it than at the Gin Palace. If a Negroni is more your speed they have that covered as well. .And if you are looking for something slightly different their list will sort you out there too.
As you would expect they have a truly epic selection of Gin available as well as a broadly stocked back bar. If you are after a snack the chicken and mayonnaise toasty has been helping soak up gin for over 20 years in the most delicious way.