Melbourne's Little Italy is better known for pasta than piss-ups, but that doesn't mean Carlton skimps in the small bar stakes. Below, we've rounded up some of our favourite bars in Lygon Street and surrounds (with a few food stops thrown in for good measure). If you're in the area, be sure to check out our guides to Carlton's best shopping and Lygon Street's best restaurants too.
The best bars in Carlton
The Beaufort, if you’ve yet to make its acquaintance, is a pickle-pushing, swash buckling, rock’n’roll dive-bar (minus the scunge), where you can get a Cherry’n’Jerry (cherry Coke, Sailor Jerry rum), grease your wheels with some deep-fried pickles, and carve ‘hold fast!’ into the bar.
The Brandon Hotel looks unassuming. Enter the fairly generic front bar you’ll get a squinty assessment from the locals that says: “Y’all ain’t from round here.” Conquer these gatekeepers and your reward is a really great neighbourhood pub with a sweet bistro out the back.
The tiny, well-appointed bar is owned and operated by Leigh and Tom, a genial pair who’ve distilled their hard-earned understanding of what makes a great bar into one small but perfectly formed vessel boasting an extensive collection of whiskies, which includes several from now-closed distilleries. They also happen to have one of the finest mushroom croquettas in town.
The Town Mouse is a casual restaurant-bar with a sharp Art Deco fit-out and a whole lot of Motown. You know you’re dealing with booze professionals when they serve your gin and tonic stained with Campari. And did we mention the wine? Young gun sommelier Lachie Barber (Movida Aqui) consulted on the list, so you’re guaranteed some fun in a glass.