If you haven't wet your whistle in the north-east corner of Melbourne's CBD, you're missing a whole lot of fun, including a couple cocktail stalwarts and two of Melbourne's best rooftop bars. For more serious mixed drinks, check out our guide to this city's best cocktail bars. Or, if high-altitude drinking is your thing, we've rounded up the best rooftop bars too.
CBD Upper East bar crawl
If you’re a cocktail rookie on a fact-finding mission, take yourself to 1806 – the prettiest booze school in the land. Sit at the long, ornate bar, behind which is a twinkling rainbow of liquor bottles theatrically framed by velvet curtains, and prepare to get learned. The menu is literally a book starting with drinks from the year 1806, and detailing the history of cocktail mixing right up to those heady recent times when we were all smashing Cosmos.
We recommend you book at Bomba, but if you do walk in and have to wait, the rooftop bar is a pretty good place to kick things off with a frosty Estrella. Or how about some vermouth? They’ve got the botanically funked up fortified wine coming out the taps. Plus they are pouring predominantly Spanish wines at a flat rate of either $40 or $60 a bottle.
Casual-boozer-come-dance-club Miss Libertine bit the big one this year, and filling the shell is Captain Melville – an outback/gold rush era/bushranger-themed bistro and bar. Downstairs you'll find the restaurant where things stay pretty proper, but after a bit of extra renovating, they've also just launched an upstairs cocktail bar that stays open until 5am.
It’s all about wine, wine, wine here - all you need to worry about is whether you want red, white or sparkling and the staff will fill in the blanks.The City Wine Shop is much more than a shop for grape fiends, it is also lovely wine bar in which to sit about and drink, feeling very grown up indeed.
Cookie is the little black dress of bars. It’s a place we sometimes forget among all the glitzy new Places To Be Right Now, but every time we come back to this playful, manically busy joint, located a puffy stair climb halfway up Curtin House, we never know why we’ve been away – it’s an old faithful that never fails to deliver.
Madame Brussels is the flirty parlour bar that sits above Collins Street’s Akuza lounge like a frilly debutante with a whole lot of sass. It’s in this place of AstroTurf and garden furniture that you’ll find an exclusively good-looking staff wearing vintage tennis gear and throwing around Pimms cups, sausage rolls and winks.
Snacks! Beers! Single malts and cigars! Perched above the Supper Club, Siglo is the classic Melbourne late-night bar, a rooftop haven of frosty beers (Trumer Pils! Mountain Goat Pale Ale!), Americanos (Americani?) and great bar snacks such as polenta chips with aioli and a life-saving croque monsieur.
This is the only bar south of the equator serving the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s gear. They're single-cask releases you’d usually have to be a member to even get a sideways glance at. This is a bar for whisky fans, not just nerds and you’ll find as many drinkers taking their dram with a beer and a smoke in the courtyard as buffs talking shop at the bar.