There’s no denying Melbourne is the nightlife capital of Australia, so it stands to reason it should be home to some of the best whisky bars around. After all, Melbourne isn’t always the warmest city in Australia, and there’s nothing quite like savouring a dram or two to help warm the soul.
So, it’s a magnificent drop and no arguments, and what a great drink needs is a great place to enjoy it. Whether it’s with a bunch of mates after work, or on your own with a cigar, a classic novel and some moody lighting.
So, Melbourne, here are our picks for the best whisky bars to appreciate your next dram of – what’s known in Gaelic as – uisgebeatha. The water of life.
In this story…
Eau de Vie
1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne, 3000
There’s no epoch that is quite so synonymous with the mass imbibing of whisky (or whiskey, if you’re that way inclined) than the 1920s, and the era of prohibition in America. With that in mind, pull up a stool or slide into a booth, and enjoy a drink at one of the best whisky bars in Melbourne, Eau de Vie.
Now, the chic cocktail lounge requires a paragraph of its very own – grab a Smokey Rob Roy made with Talisker and Lagavulin if you want to experience what it must be like to drink the spirit of a luxury Scottish cabin caught in a forest-fire – but it’s the Whiskey Room that concerns us now. The Whiskey Room, hidden away behind a bookcase, is where the more top-shelf nectar is kept. It’s also where you can purchase a bottle of your favourite tipple and store it in its very own locker for when you’re next passing.
Whisky and Alement
270 Russell St, Melbourne, 3000
Yes, this is of course on the list of Melbourne whisky bars. In fact, many whisky aficionados will tell you that this should be on the list of world whisky bars. Don’t take our word (or theirs for that matter) for it though. Just take yourself along, sit yourself down in this bar in the heart of the city, and have a drink.
The dimly lit and intimate interior is perfectly masculine without being intimidating. The staff are knowledgeable and passionate and eager to nudge a novice into full-blown whisky-mania. And the whisky? Well, the whisky hails from all over the world; a broad offering that ranges from the classic to the obscure, to the downright rare, so that every whisky lover will be overly satisfied. Monthly educational tastings will ensure you’re a connoisseur in no time.
348 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, 3122
This is the home of serious whisky business. If you want a quick drink followed by dinner, head someplace else, because all you’ll be able to grab here is a bag of chips or a ploughman’s platter – the perfect accompaniment to whisky in any case.
Naturally, with over six hundred examples of the sweet fermented grain to try, there are masterclasses and tastings available. So, why not class it up and pull up a pew in this fine heritage building, and enjoy the high ceilings and toffee-coloured wood of an iconic Melbourne haunt.
209/211 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, 3000
Now, every magnificent bastard worth his salt knows that a boilermaker is a dram of neat whisky that is paired up with a beer chaser. In the American vernacular the shot is dropped into the beer, but we’re a classy bunch, aren’t we chaps? And who in their right minds wants to get beer down their new three-piece suit at the end of a hard week?
Boilermaker House has the art of pairing whisky and beer down to a tee, and what could be more fantastic than paying homage to two of humanities’ greatest creations in one fell swoop? It brings a tear to the eye just thinking about it. How could it be better you ask? How about a dedicated charcuterie and cheese menu, and a selection of over seven hundred whiskies?
161 Spring St, Melbourne, 3000
Siglo is the very epitome of what a great whisky bar should be: a place where a gentleman can sit with a cigar and glass of fine single malt and ruminate on his day. With Parliament House splendidly lit up across the way, this is an alfresco whisky bar where you come to relax after a stressful day and ponder… on which one of the plentiful rare varieties of whisky you want to sip on next.
The Elysian Whisky Bar
113 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, 3065
Forget about granddaddy’s whisky collection hidden under the bed for a second. The real action can be found at a cosy little spot called The Elysian Whisky Bar situated at the lower end of Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. True whisky lovers can forego the normal stuff found in bottle shops for over 300 samples of rare and interesting whiskies which give credit to Independent Bottlings from around the world.
Complementing this commendable list is the lingering audio of smooth classics and jazz to complete a relaxing night of drinking with friends. And yes, Elysian Whisky Bar also offers classic cocktails, wines and a small selection of beers that rotate regularly for those who aren’t feeling the whisky. Blasphemous.
Melbourne Whisky Room
270 Russell Street, Melbourne, 3000
Wait a minute, another whisky bar located at 270 Russell Street? Believe it. The Melbourne Whisky Room is an extension of the aforementioned Whisky & Alement and today it’s the brainchild of Brooke Hayman and Julian White, a Japanese-inspired whisky bar located atop of Whisky & Alement. On the hit list of this distinguished drinking hole are some of the rarest bottles in the world normally reserved for collectors’ circles. It’s a must-visit for those who know and love their whisky.
2B/27 Russell St, Melbourne 3000
Yes, the name of this exquisite whisky bar delivers precisely what it promises, a place where whisky lovers come together and enjoy the finest beverages. Whisky Den launched in 2016 and was inspired by the hybrid of tiny ‘Yokocho’ alley bars of Japan and the Hutong bars of Beijing, offering a cosy, laidback feel.
This pint-size waterhole is one of the best-kept secrets in Melbourne and provides the top-shelf whisky and rare drams that are sure to quench your thirst. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable and are happy to recommend something suited to your palette or even curate a whisky flight for you.
Beneath Driver Lane
Basement/3 Driver Ln, Melbourne 3000
This iconic Melbourne whisky bar is the perfect spot if you’re into blues, good service, friendly staff, and Reuben sandwiches. Behind the GPO building lies Driver Lane, where two lights on either side of the doorway show the entrance into this hidden little gem, known as Beneath Driver Lane. This trendy bar filled with cool leather booths and exposed brick layering specialises in all things whisky. Whether you’re after American, Japanese or Scotch whisky, there’s something here for everyone.
141 Greeves St, Fitzroy, 3065
Bad Frankie is one of Fitzroy’s best bars that specialises in two things, boutique Australian spirits and toasted jaffles. Bad Frankie is named after Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, John Franklin, who outlawed small pot stills in the early 19th Century, known as the ‘grandfather of Australian spirits’. Today, this Melbourne bar celebrates Franklin with its extensive selection of whiskeys, Australian gin and wine. Bad Frankie is not only loved by the people, but it is also critically acclaimed with its 2017 ‘Best Small Bar’ title.