It’s pretty much written in stone that Melbourne is the Australian city you need to visit if you’re after incredible nightlife, culture (hello amazing art galleries) and just a good ol’ time. It’s also a great place to spend a weekend shopping, with several menswear shops, sneaker stores slinging the latest drops and a number of tailors just waiting to make you your perfect suit, you’re going to need to know the best places in town to enjoy a stiff drink to wind down the evening.
Fortunately for you, we do know the best bars in Melbourne for enjoying a simple glass of wine with a date or loved one, weekend beers with the boys, or somewhere to visit with a group of friends where you can share plates of food and enjoy plentiful banter. With Melbourne being home to a number of laneways, some of these bars can be tricky to find, but hunt them out and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with some nights to remember.
If you’re after something decidedly more casual, may we suggest you check out the coolest pubs Melbourne has to offer, and if you’re visiting the Southern city in summer you’ll no doubt want to enjoy some drinks at a rooftop bar instead? For all other occasions, this guide to the coolest bars in Melbourne is the only one you’ll need.
Trinket Bar certainly sits on the fence between bar and cocktail bar, with its cocktails being of superb quality and the drinks it’s most keen to promote. However, with cold tap beers, a generous selection of wines and tasty pizzas and other small sharing plates of food being served from the kitchen, Trinket Bar becomes the perfect place to head with friends to catch up and spend a night. Situated just across from Federation Square (and round the corner from Eau De Vie whisky bar), it’s in a prime spot, too.
Address: 87 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9810 0044
For a little Spanish flare in your night out, head to Bar Tini. Placing an emphasis on the sharing of food with tapas plates, accompanied by ice-cold beers, a tantalising list of cocktails and a comprehensive wine list, which while predominantly European-influenced, does include a few Australian reds. A short stroll from Trinket Bar and a hop across from Flinders Street train station, you can easily spend a night here and still make your way home.
Address: 3-5 Hosier Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9663 3038
To really turn things up to 11, Bar Ampere will happily serve some late-night absinthe, and the list on offer really does need to be seen to be believed. It’s huge. Of course, knowing that absinthe can send you over the edge, Bar Ampere has a delectable food menu too, so you can keep your stomach lined. Opening late in the afternoon and going through all the way into the early hours of the following day, Bar Ampere is the perfect place to finish a night off.
Address: 16 Russell Place, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9663 7557
Beneath Driver Lane
Beneath Driver Lane could go into the hidden cocktail bars list, but since it slings a number of wines and beers from the bar (not to mention it receives consistently rave reviews) it deserves a spot on this list instead. Taking up residence in the vault of Melbourne’s old Money Order Office, BDL will definitely give you a night to remember. Cocktails are the order of the day, but with a number of top-shelf wines and world-famous whiskies to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Address: 3 Driver Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Asian-themed bars are always well received and Japanese-inspired Hihou is one of the best in Melbourne. Sake, Shochu, beers and Japanese whiskies are all on offer at this popular jaunt, with a food menu that looks so good you’ll want to order one of everything – at least make sure you get the spicy tuna cigars.
Address: 1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9654 5464
French cuisine is what you’ll be able to wine and dine on at Bar Margaux and with its owners also boasting The Everleigh in their portfolio, you can be sure you’ll receive a memorable experience. You can choose to gorge on oysters, escargot or coq au vin, but what you’ll really want to head to Bar Margaux for is its burgers, which are paired perfectly with a bottle of red or white from Burgundy.
Address: 111 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 03 9650 0088
Arlechin isn’t the easiest of bars to find in Melbourne, nor does its website give much away about what you can expect. Alas, we implore you to seek it out, as the bar (owned by the notorious Grossi family) will reward you with a scintillating list of cocktails, wines and some food that is simply to die for. Best of all, it’s open until the early hours, so a midnight meatball feast is perfectly achievable.
Address: Mornane Place, Melbourne, 3000
Be transported back to 1920s Prohibition Era America as soon as you step through the doors to Father’s Office. Fortunately, the consumption of alcohol is most definitely allowed here, with a complementary selection of food. Perched above Little Lonsdale and Swanston Streets, Father’s Office also gives you the chance to stare down to the streets below from the large balcony, or you can make your way into the main bar to enjoy a generous selection of whiskey, rum and locally-sourced tap beers.
Now for something a little different. Ponyfish Island is, quite literally, an island. Found floating on the Yarra River underneath Pedestrian Bridge at Southbank, Ponyfish welcomes patrons from morning through to evening, with breakfast, lunch and dinner all being made available from the kitchen. It’s currently undergoing renovation, which should be completed by November 2020, and will provide space for most guests and a softer colour palette (as well as the ability to be able to plug in more than four appliances without shutting down power to the bridge above).
Address: Pedestrian Bridge, Southbank, 3006