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Exploring The Coolest Bars In Melbourne

We’re often told we’re too Sydney-centric for our own good so today we’re putting our whisky where our mouth is and forgoing the bright lights of the harbour city. In its place? Melbourne’s lockout law-free nightlife of the hidden variety, a.k.a…Freedom, baby!

They maybe small bars but these eight understated watering holes pack a serious punch when it comes to serving up a mean drink. Trust us, it’ll be worth the effort of finding these hidden gems once you’ve conquered Sydney’s hidden bar scene.

Fall From Grace

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There’s no shortage of hidden small bars in Melbourne’s CBD but finding a memorable one is half the work. One of the town’s coolest is Fall From Grace, a cellar bar tucked away within a restaurant. To access the joint, punters need to remove a book from a shelf which will open a secret door to a room laden with a marble staircase, chandeliers, candles and velvet lining all round for the cool cats of the night. The joint serves up winning cocktails and an extensive list of wine which dominates the venue’s walls.

Location: Melbourne CBD

Jungle Boy

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Head down the Windsor end of Chapel street and you’ll stumble upon he New York style drinking establishment of Jungle Boy. Entrance is via a cool room door (yes, like in Blade where the vampires feed on humans in a blood rave) via Boston Sub which is a late night sandwich joint. It’s a tiny space but the character is bigger than Ben Hur with taxidermy, luscious greens, low light and eclectic furniture gracing the space. When the fun’s over, head back out for a pulled pork sandwich before heading home.

Location: Windsor

Goldilocks

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Following the tradition of using a food front as a gateway to a kick arse hidden bar, Goldilocks changes up the cuisine facade for an Asian influence. The cocktail bar is located atop a noodle restaurant and requires an elevator to access. Once the doors slide open to the first level or roof, you’ll be greeted with an intimate space serving top notch drinks including cocktails, craft beer and a killer view of the skyline.

Location: Melbourne CBD

The Croft Institute

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It’s not as hidden as the others anymore since it’s been around for around a decade but there’s a good reason for that. The Croft Institute has become an icon of the city and is located in one of the darkest Chinatown alleyways you could set foot upon. Let’s just say you wouldn’t try the same thing in Sydney. Once inside though, the mood changes drastically, showcasing what Melbourne’s small bar scene is all about. Mystery, journey and fun. The joint serves up unique cocktails and syringe shots via its lab-inspired bar with beakers and flasks whilst the floor above is made for dancing the night away.

Location: Melbourne CBD

Loch & Key

Hidden Bars Melbourne

Beautifully appointed, Loch & Key can be found tucked away on top of Franklin Street’s Captain Melville. The vintage fit out plays well into the speakeasy style cocktail space which does good with its selection of craft beer, cocktails and premium drinks.

Location: Melbourne CBD

Pizza Pizza Pizza*

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This joint is so secret and so Melbourne that it doesn’t even have a name – hence the *. What it does have though is a front pizza shop facade called Pizza Pizza Pizza lit up in yellow neon which you might have guessed, serves NYC style pizza. Enter the late night pizza take away joint in Meyers Lane, convince the staff to show you the “back kitchen” and you’ll be greeted with Melbourne’s newest hidden bar decked out with cosy booths, laid back tunes and table service for their delicious cocktails. They’re only open from Wednesday to Saturday so have your poker faces ready at the door.

Location: Melbourne CBD

The Everleigh

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One of the easier finds on the hidden bar hit list is located on Gertude Street in the Melbourne CBD. Come here for the flawless cocktails from bar staff who know their shit. Once you’ve selected your poison, make your way over to the marble bar or cosy leather booths surrounded by dark wood and dim lighting. Classy date night? You betcha.

Location: Fitzroy

Moonshine

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In true signature Melbourne small bar form, Moonshine is an indie-inspired hole in the wall bar located behind The Owl and Cat Theatre in Richmond. It’s a tight squeeze but if you do find your spot in the laneway or in front of the fireplace, you’ll be able to enjoy a Golden Ticket cocktail made by budding actors and artists.

Location: Richmond

The Woods Of Windsor

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Get in touch with your darker side at The Woods of Windsor, a hip bar with an old school fit out catering to lovers of craft beer, rare spirits and premium grub that’s a stab above your average pub fair. A big reason for this is because it’s also a semi-restaurant for seasoned foodies. But back the drinking. It’s a space that embraces its masculinity through its furniture, dimmed down lighting and animals strewn about. Did someone say underground secret society?

Location: Windsor

Melbourne City Wine Shop

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Good things come in pairs and that has certainly been the case for this traditional wine bar which also doubles as a bottle shop. The iconic City Wine Shop is the product of a collective who also run some of the city’s hottest drinking holes. This means that the character and charm oozes the moment you walk in and doesn’t stop until you’ve got a nice tipple in your hand or decent bottle on your way out. A fine selection of European wines is the specialty here and there’s enough to satisfy the most curious palate along with cheeses from the grocer next door.

Location: Melbourne

Cicciolina Back Bar

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Since its arrival on the scene in 1993, Cicciolina has clawed its way to the top as a prime St Kilda haunt for fans of modern Italian cuisine. We’re not here to talk about food though. Sitting quietly behind the restaurant is the Cicciolina’s back bar, an old school drinking hole that wholeheartedly embraces its surroundings from the matured decor to the suburb’s eclectic past. Amongst all of that punters will find highly personable bartenders who’ll turn a round of drinks into a Sunday afternoon session at an old friend’s.

Location: St Kilda

1806

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The name might be obscure but there’s nothing confusing about what 1806 is here to do – serve up some of the city’s finest cocktails, whiskies and beer. It’s a full service affair here with matching whisky cheeses, custom brewed beer and stuff like 1,000 day aged Gouda all served up in an elegant setting that harks back to the pre-war era of 1930s glam.

Location: Melbourne

Siglo

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Be enthralled by the uninterrupted views of Spring Street and the Parliament House from the rooftop quarters of Siglo. It’s an extravagant affair for those who looking for something special in terms of service, wine, cocktails and a decent late night atmosphere. Siglo is popular amongst groups so if you’re keen for a celebration make sure to book ahead for space overlooking the side as sunset comes around. Did someone say Melbourne date spot?

Location: Melbourne

Bar Americano

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Immerse yourself in the cosy surrounds of Bar Americano, a space adorned with copper and dark wood accents to mimic the quintessential New York charm. The bar is a world class venue which has garnered attention from its concoctions by bartender Hayden Lambert. By day Lambert serves the working crowd with espressos and almond biscotti whilst by night, the mad scientist appears. Beautifully balanced cocktails, buzzing atmosphere and a true drinker’s watering hole makes this one of the coolest bar’s in Melbourne.

Location: Melbourne

The Black Pearl

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Mellow out in style with a drink in hand and a very chilled out atmosphere to boot. The surrounds are sophisticated but it’s definitely got a more relaxed vibe with guests kicking back on ottomans to complex cocktails delivered by some of the most talented in the game. Be warned though that peace and quiet dissipates rather quickly come Friday and the weekend. To keep people intrigued, all of their drinks are created in-house along with snacks until 10pm. Winning.

Naked In The Sky

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Be warned. The name of this place is not a dresscode requisite. What it is though is a very trendy open terrace complete with an attached bar, lounge and restaurant. The view lingers perfectly over Fitzroy below along with the city skyline and Brunswick Street. To access this coveted area, one must enter a shifty but certified looking lift shaft which the architects assure us are safe. Once there you’ll have a choice of over a dozen beers on tap along with in-house infused vodka and Spanish and Australian wines. Chase that summer sun by rocking up early to avoid the crowds.

Location: Fitzroy

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