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Busy rooftop bar with umbrellas and groups of people sitting at tables at dusk..
Photograph: Arianna Leggiero

The 50 best bars in Melbourne

Whether you're knocking back a beer, sipping a sake or taking a shot of tequila, we have the right drinking spot for you

Lauren Dinse
Written by
Paul Chai
Contributor
Lauren Dinse
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February 2024Love is in the air in the month of Valentine's Day, and we're confident these bars fit the bill for a perfect date night out. But hey, if you're single, don't let that stop you from sauntering into one of these swish drinking dens – you may just end up finding someone cute by the bar.

Melbourne has some of the best bars in the world, whether you're looking for the laser-like focus of 16-seater Above Board or the rock ‘n’ roll ‘she’ll be right’ of Heartbreaker. You can find temples heroing whisky and palaces dedicated to gin; you can sip naked wines or suited-and-booted cocktails, grab a craft beer and a parma or a late-night Gimlet and a Euro-leaning cheese platter. Or how about a prawn club sanga and a bottle of Champers from intimate newcomer Apollo Inn

If you're looking for a bar to head to, we've rounded up the top 50 bars that we're really excited about right now, many of which happen to be winners of the Time Out Food and Drink Awards for 2023. Cheers to them!

The 50 best Melbourne bars in Melbourne

  • Bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

Tash Conte’s family-run bar has been a beacon of excellence for almost 21 years now. Not content to sit pretty on tried-and-tested masterpieces, the list is always on the move, keeping step with moods and seasons. This Fitzroy stayer delivers killer cocktails downstairs and upstairs in the Attic you get more of the same but with a quieter, date-night vibe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne

The Coupette Group, a small private hospo crew, quietly opened Bouvardia in May 2021. Its drinks program is known to be at the forefront of cutting-edge flavour innovation, from the use of isoamyl acetate (the chemical compound that tastes like bananas) to a sustainability centred focus on local seasonal ingredients – some of which take up to weeks to prepare. The venue manager behind the vision is none other than Dom Gareffa, formerly of AtticaBut while Bouvardia’s reputation as an innovator may rest on its desire to push the bounds of modern drinking, the bottom line is that the cocktails truly taste as impressive as they look – and that’s why we’ll be back.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Collingwood
  • price 2 of 4

Above Board is a bar in the same way that Tame Impala is a band. At Above Board you are in Hayden Lambert’s house, even if he has a bit of help some nights. The bespectacled host will determine if you’re after a classic or a signature cocktail, but you’re also getting a little bit of a chat and a silly joke with every drink he dispenses from the bar that is the heart and control centre of this tiny venue. There is only a handful of seats, and all of them face the drinks action where Lambert is putting the art back in artisanal.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Collingwood

Heading to Peter Gunn’s tiny Collingwood bar (a post-lockdown neighbour to his illustrious restaurant Ides), you might fret you’re in for a rather stuffy excursion. Fortunately, March is nothing of the sort. Though the sleek womb-like space naturally smoulders with a sense of occasion, it dodges the pomp factor by taking its cues from izakayas and casual tapas bars. Neighbouring Ides may be the fancier option for a multi-course elevated meal, but this slinky dive is a hell of a lot more sexy. Our only advice is to go hungrier than not – the elevated bites are worth the extra spend, and they’ll line your belly for some of the most impeccably crafted drinks money can buy on Smith Street.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne

There should be another word for what Byrdi is doing. Bar doesn’t quite cut it, despite the fact that dispensing booze is at the core of what it does. It seems more like some kind of lab where you get to play guinea pig to its scientist. The drinks, made and served by a fleet of staff swaddled in crushed linen, are highly original and highly delicious in equal parts. There’s plenty of exciting technique going on here, plus a strong sense of seasonality. Techniques commonly associated with kitchens are front and centre – fermenting, smoking, clarifying – and the results are often thrilling. It's no wonder Byrdi is globally recognised and gilded in glittering awards. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne

Moody, intimate and tastefully lit, Black Kite Commune is the latest addition to the illustrious Russell Place – joining sister bars Gin Palace (a Melbourne institution) and its lively adjunct Bar Ampere. But fret not – Black Kite Commune has stepped into Neapoli’s shoes, ticking all boxes and then some. Spread across two levels, the mood is '70s bar meets French bistro – wooden panelling and low ceilings meet black walls and dark carpeted floors. A birdcage contraption on the far corner of the first floor adds a playful energy, while the purple hues of a lightbox night sky installation overlooking the entire venue creates an ethereal feel. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne

Whisky and Alement has been paving Melbourne nights with precious amber distills since 2010. These guys were also the first to have access to the limited-edition and crazy expensive Scotch Malt Whisky Society single cask bottlings – look for the dark green bottles with white labels and number codes in place of distilleries. Previously you had to shell out north of $200 for a bottle, but at Whisky and Alement suddenly you could buy it by the nip and get a taste of the high life for fewer dollars than your weekly rent. 

  • Bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

Another whisky-loving joint, Elysian Whisky Bar has been dishing up wee drams in Fitzroy for years to a discerning crowd who might opt for a flight or simply trust the knowledgeable bar staff to find something they love. Key to this speciality bar’s success is the painstakingly built 350-strong backbar of rare and independently bottled whiskies. Each bottle has been hand-selected, resulting in an eclectic collection full of one-offs you won’t find elsewhere in the city. 

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  • Bars
  • Footscray

Bar Thyme is a relaxed neighbourhood bar and bistro in Footscray with a focus on sustainability, seasonal produce and natural wines. As is the case with all great locals, the bar’s philosophy is that everyone and anyone’s welcome to drop by and spend a bit of 'thyme' enjoying seriously good share-style dishes and drinks. The considered wine list is composed of natty wines from near and far, but Bar Thyme is also, at its heart, a cocktail bar – so you can expect a mix of true classics and inventive signature drinks to round out your evening. All syrups and soft drinks are housemade, and if you’re off the grog, there’s plenty of alcohol-free bevvies to enjoy that are just as thoughtful and interesting. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • North Melbourne

You hear Manzé (Creole for 'eat') before you see it. Its cheerful Mauritian music floats out onto Errol Street in North Melbourne, setting the wine bar oceans apart from other venues on the strip, such as the grungy Town Hall Hotel or the British-inspired Courthouse Hotel. Chef Nagesh Seethiah opened Manzé’s doors in November 2021 to strong interest, with tables booking out completely in its debut month and often since then. It’s arguably Australia’s highest profile culinary representation of Mauritian cuisine, but as we come to find on our visit, that’s only the beginning of its appeal. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne

Another proud purveyor of vinyl, Caretaker's Cottage has its petite bar bracketed by imposing speakers that clearly signal the bar’s love of music. It’s a house-party vibe in a Gothic cottage behind Wesley Church with real, caring service that saw the bar wind up on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. The drinks helped too, of course, like the seasonal Hail Santa with Four Pillars Christmas gin, peach and sparkling wine or a classic Corpse Reviver #1. The bar version of good things coming in small packages.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Eltham

Another new bar that is channelling the Prohibition era, Naught Distilling is worth the trip out to Eltham for a speakeasy designed to showcase Naught’s award-winning range of gins. The décor is dramatic pressed metal and velvet, and the huge stone bar is the perfect place to belly up and try the drinks and simple snacks like pâtés. There is a dedicated tiki section to the drinks menu that has some fun options including the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, which is named for the state fish of Hawaii and is strong enough that you will not want to go for a swim afterwards.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Richmond

Swan Street has undergone a facelift in recent years, and let's face it, it was overdue. Reliably busy on weekends with convivial pub-goers, for those who prefer their lubrication with a side of bangin' food, it's historically been wiser to head further north or south in search of greener pastures. But there's a sea change in the air, and Richmond has a re-awakened sense of excitement because Swan Street is, well, she's looking good. One of the most gratifying spots to rise from the COVID-ashes is Clover, a casual but sleek wine bar from the team behind The Alps, Milton Wine Bar and The Moon

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

A wine bar that lays the prototype for all wine bars in Melbourne, it’d be remiss to not sample a bottle in Marion’s extensive selection. Marion is plush and elegant, but it’s never too cool for school – fries can be ordered by the half-serve if you’re in a duo, wine can be ordered by the half-bottle, and all manner of questions (whether about wine or food) are welcomed by the accommodating staff. Like all great neighbourhood wine bars, the focus is on the customer and, above all, comfort. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Melbourne

If Champagne is your thing, Nick and Nora’s is the place for a glass of celebratory bubbles. This Roaring '20s-themed temple of decadence has walls of Champagne bottles and cocktails themed around the heroes and villains of a hard-boiled crime book. Nick and Nora Charles are characters created by crime writer Dashiell Hammett and with just one visit to this glitzy cocktail bar from the Speakeasy Group, you will think it is a crime to go anywhere else.

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Brunswick West

This Brunswick neighbourhood bar is a perfect combo of simple snacks, great drinks and service that treats everyone as if they live just around the corner, with a side order of epic vinyl. Housed in an old butcher shop and named for INXS’s third album, Shabooh Shoobah’s team of Hootan Heydari and Emily Bitto from Heartattack and Vine have created the lo-fi wine bar that Brunswick sorely needed. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

Lonsdale Street’s four-storey mega-venue looks across at where the modest St. Jerome’s once stood, but this new addition to Melbourne bar life is a million miles away from the milk crates and graffiti of the laneway original. That is no criticism, more an evolution, as Her is a great mix of all-day drinking. The street-level space sells itself as a “daytime” cocktail bar, although it slings French 75s and Dirty Gin Martinis until 3am. (If you’re an early bird, the doors swing open at 7am for pastries, lobster omelettes and Market Lane coffee.) Head upstairs to the Music Room that makes you feel like you are drinking inside a speaker, or spend the sunny arvos on the rooftop with a quirky mosaic and great summer drinks.

  • Restaurants
  • Coburg

Olivine is the distinctive and stylish new wine bar housed in Pentridge’s stone-walled B-division. It’s a bit of a journey to get there. You’ll need to roam through the ominous arched walkway and past flickering candles into a dark and gloomy foyer. But once you’re in, you won’t want to leave despite your austere setting. Olivine's hosts are determined to make you feel like you’re in good hands. The opulent yet mysterious bar is packed full of alcoves, perfect for dates, wine tastings, or even confidential business meetings. Drink enough and you might even forget the ghost of Ned Kelly (once an inmate here) looming over your shoulder.

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  • Bars
  • Melbourne

The mysterious sibling to Andrew McConell’s esteemed Gimlet at Cavendish House may be one of the newer bars to grace this list, but it's certainly already made a name for itself. Packed to the rafters almost every night, the swanky 30-seater serves wines by the glass and bottles from Gimlet's impressive cellar, signature cocktails inspired by old-world classics, and a concise yet diverse seafood-forward menu of snacks and dishes designed for pairing. Signature cocktails include the Lucien Gaudin featuring gin, Campari, dry vermouth, Grand Marnier, and the Picon Bierre, a blend of house-made amaro and French lager. In other words, the latter's an upscale shandy – one of the finest after-work refreshments you can find in the CBD. Walk-ins are encouraged, but given its current popularity we highly suggest making a reservation. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

The Everleigh remains one of the best classic cocktail bars in Melbourne with its clubby feel of ottomans, dark wood and historical portraits. It remains one of the few bars where you can trust the bartender to deliver your new favourite drinks just by asking you a few questions. It is still the home of some of the best service in the business. The Everleigh remains a must-do on the Melbourne cocktail scene.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Melbourne

Alex Boon and Pez Collier are the lauded Brisbane bartenders who spent two years refining their idea of the perfect oyster and cocktail bar. They joined up with the Speakeasy Group (Nick and Nora'sEau De VieMjolner) and the collaboration is part of the brand’s Pathways to Partnership program, an initiative to bankroll visionary venues of hospo-preneurs. If Pearl Diver is anything to go by, the scheme could birth a whole new slew of city go-tos. 

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Carlton North
  • price 2 of 4

Gerald’s is and always has been bursting with personality: convivial, boisterous, eccentric, but at the same time, utterly approachable with a flawless soundtrack and a poster of a young Michael Caine watching over you. Sure, the wine list is a massive 200 bottles long, with a few bin ends (the last few bottles of a line), but the staff are helpful enough to decipher it for you. 

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Collingwood

A wine bar and digital radio station being run out of a creative arts precinct housed in a disused school. It doesn’t get much more Melbourne than that. Hope St Radio is located within Collingwood Yards and run by power duo (and coincidentally friends who love great food and wine) Pete Baxter and Jack Shaw. The wine bar and radio station headquarters aims to bring the community together by championing local musicians, produce and natural wine. Punters can expect local DJs mixing vinyl all through the night, expansive outdoor communal tables and fire pits, a 60-strong wine list highlighting the best of the new-age natty stuff, and a seasonal, Italian-leaning menu helmed by Ellie Bouhadana.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne

Melbourne’s reigning bar barons Michael and Zara Madrusan are pros at recreating these tiny universes, first giving us golden age classiness at the Everleigh, then rowdy breakouts of song at rock’n’roll dive Heartbreaker. Now we’re burrowing underground at the Paris-via-New York brasserie Bar Margaux, a place where oysters are shucked, Champagne is popped and steak are sizzled until the tiniest of hours.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

To drink at Liberty is to revel in the best of all booze. The only rule about each drop here is that it must be a superlative example of its style. Whether it’s wine, cider, cocktails, whisky, vermouth or even housemade soda, every item on the long menu is carefully curated: the variety and quality on offer are hard to overstate. Head chef Zackary Leon Furst and executive chef Casey Wall curate small plates such as king prawns in a miso sauce, while sweet slices of snapper fillet are served on a bed of tart kefir cultured cream and thin slices of Jerusalem artichoke, with an aniseed kick from fennel seeds.

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Brunswick

Almay Jordaan and Simon Denman are serving more than 300 low-intervention and biodynamic wines alongside 12 tap beers and a super-slick menu cooked over coals with a South African inflection. The majority of the wine list, except for a literal handful of wines, are low-intervention vinos that have either received extended skin contact, been aged in amphora, have little to no sulfur added to the bottle, or are several of these things all at once. Confused? Don’t be. Each wine has been coded with its farming practices and processes.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4

The Shady Lady has transformed the old Houndstooth on Johnston Street to be a self-proclaimed vegan-friendly, dog-friendly, LGBTQIA+-welcome dive bar with a glam-shab décor. Orange tassel-covered lampshades, blue painted brick, disco balls and cabaret curtains are a refreshing change from the minimalist blond wood and Prohibition-style bars littered around Fitzroy. The Shady Lady knows it is different and encourages boatloads of fabulous, daggy fun. 

Eau De Vie
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Eau de Vie was once one of those hidden bars that would take you a good chunk of time to find. Now, it’s one of the worst-kept secrets in Melbourne. Eau De Vie continues to be one of the busiest cocktail bars in town due to its ability to transport you out of the modern day and into the charms of yesteryear. But it isn’t just the jazzy soundtrack, private booths and staff clad in waistcoats that are the drawcard. Eau De Vie backs it up with some serious drinks and also a bit of flair. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

If you like cocktails, whisky, blues, good service and eating Reuben sandwiches at 2am, Beneath Driver Lane is your basement of dreams. Occupying an old bank vault in the CBD and celebrating its fifth birthday in 2022, this bar has a Harry Potter feeling that’s rare in Melbourne. It’s a vision of rustic Victorian style: the brick arched booths, the walls cluttered with black and white photos, and the warm light from candles and low-hanging lamps are comfortable. The fitout and the sharp service give this place a feeling that’s equal parts Melbourne, Chicago and Diagon Alley. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Situated next to (and sharing a food menu with) the European, another Christopoulos enterprise, City Wine Shop is a cosy, intimate space with green-tiled walls, chalkboards displaying the daily specials and an entire floor-to-ceiling wall of bottles available to take home or drink in. There’s plenty of seating on the footpath outside to soak up those lovely Spring Street vibes at dusk, but given its proximity to the Princess Theatre and its scene-y reputation, it fills up fast even on cold winter nights. A seat at the bar is the next best thing, perfect for posting up with a plus-one or maybe a book. This is the sort of place you can go alone without feeling lonely.

 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fitzroy

It’s no secret that the hospitality industry is a huge producer of waste. Think about those plastic straws, empty bottles, plastic-wrapped napkins, cardboard coasters, paper menus and food waste. Ends and Means opened with a vision of being a low-waste and sustainable cocktail bar, and true to its word, it produces less than one bag of landfill a day. It’s not easy, but it means something to owners Marc Frew and Josh Hunt. All this sustainability doesn’t compromise the cocktails on offer. In fact, unless you were really paying attention, you wouldn’t even notice it.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fitzroy
  • price 2 of 4

Flying the flag for Australian spirits and natural ingredients, Bad Frankie is one of the original bars to see the benefits of being patriotic. Finger limes, muntries and quondongs may have been overused in the name of championing local produce. Seb Costello, owner of Bad Frankie, has been on the native train for many years. Bad Frankie is a true-blue Aussie bar that puts jaffles, community sporting trophies and smart spirits utilising native ingredients next to each other, in a way that just... works. 

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  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

A party-starting bar, with a gin-garden rooftop, smack in the middle of Chinatown – what business does Union Electric have being really, really, good? It’s common knowledge that most CBD venues with similar natural advantages are content with steadfast mediocrity, but not here. The bar champions fresh produce, each day pressing, juicing and infusing all manner of fruits, herbs and botanicals. The team gives extra vivacity to cheeky tiki cocktails and quenching Highballs, though on sticky days it’s difficult to beat the quench of rum or whisky simply served tall over fresh apple juice. 

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Brunswick

Bahama Gold started out as a liquor delivery service in the dark days of lockdown, but has since evolved into a cosy public bar and wine shop for the discerning explorer. Think funky bottles like pét nats, orange and skin contact wines, plus many more indie drops from the 1,000 bottle-strong cellar. Malaysian-born (and European-trained) chef Jane Low ensures you won't go hungry with her slick, minimalist menu of snacky delights, which she prepares for you by hand behind the bar – a disarmingly personal touch. It may be a tiny operation but it heaves with big character. An impressive sound system plays an eclectic soundtrack of records curated by the bar team and wedged within the 30-seater there's a roaring fireplace for chilly nights. Good hospitality is all about the little thoughtful things and here, there are too many to count. 

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

When Kirk’s opened in 2015 it immediately felt like a substantive thread in our city’s fabric, with its familiar, lived-in feel, confident service and mature wine list. At last, Spring Street sophistication had come to the shouty end of town. Years have passed, but it feels as essential as ever, proving that a classic wine bar, done well, never goes out of fashion. The list is as deep as it is broad, paying respect to all the old-world staples before giving equal ardour to trailblazing makers like Radikon and local innovators like Memento Mori. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Footscray

Craft beer, good wine, better spirits and great cocktails are the big draws here. Tucked away in one of Footscray’s dilapidated strips and surrounded by internet cafés and discount clothing shops, it’s easy to miss. But persevere, and your reward is a crew where friendliness and passion ripple throughout, from the young guns on the taps to the folks in the wine shop. Behind the long bar, there's a huge wall of 26 rotating taps to keep your attention piqued. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Collingwood
  • price 1 of 4

If you’re a true Melburnian, you’ve got the bar you go to play pool at, the bar with a solid wine list, the bar that can mix you a good drink, and the bar you go to just to smash a decent beer. Paradise Alley is all these things and more. The wine list is intelligent and balanced, sitting proudly next to a large collection of aperitifs, sherries and ports that are forcing Gen Y to change the way they drink.

  • Bars
  • Craft beer
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

Boilermaker House is home to one of the largest collections of whisky in Melbourne, boasting a library of 700 offerings. From the Lonsdale Street entrance, Boilermaker House is completely unassuming – a signature of the Speakeasy Group, which also has Eau de Vie and Nick and Nora’s in its roster. Through the gigantic doors, the bar opens up to a brash explosion of bodies, blues and brews. You’ll be among a lot of city workers after knock-off time finding solace in a whisky or a beer or both, and groups of bros nerding out on a bit of whisky education. 

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  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

Heartbreaker isn’t the kind of place you go to when you’ve got an early morning the next day. You'll get swept up in the rock ’n’ roll, flowing shots, beer chasers and party-hard spirit the venue has cultivated over the last few years. Throw in that late-night New York-style slice and you’re in for some trouble with a whole lot of staying power. Sure, it’s a dive bar, but it isn’t a hovel. It’s a T-shirt-and-leather-jacket crew here, who like to dress every bit as rock’n’roll as the soundtrack.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

Despite the name, Good Heavens isn’t a pearl-clutching kind of place. Melbourne’s summer hotspot is brought to you by the team behind Fancy Hank's, and the vibe at this rooftop bar is a little bit Palm Springs, with pink signage and pastel blue paintwork. Stake your claim on the precious rooftop real estate so that you can spend an evening lording it over Bourke Street while Hawaiian shirt-clad staff shake up vintage tipples at the central island bar. 

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Fitzroy North
  • price 2 of 4

Climb the stairs to the first-floor bar and restaurant to discover a clubby, handsome space of vintage bar stools, tapestry and brass. Take your time perusing Simon Denman’s 20-page wine list, peppered with natural beauties, impressive imports and little-known locals. Minimal intervention, biodynamic and organic wines form the backbone of this commendable selection, and staff are only too happy to help you dip your toes into unfiltered territory. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 2 of 4

This bar is named after the year in which the word ‘cocktail’ first appeared in our vernacular, and it takes the art of cocktail-making very seriously here. From the 1930s gentlemen’s clubs of Philadelphia to the classy small bars of Florence and the beaches of Brazil, the cocktails seduce you with curious backstories, but it’s the skill of the staff here that seals the deal. The real showstopper is the out-of-this-world whisky and cheese flights that match 2016’s favourite spirit with cave-aged English Cheddar and 1,000-day-old Gouda.   

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Windsor
  • price 2 of 4

For the uninitiated, walking into a tiny sandwich shop and yanking open its refrigerator door seems rude, but that’s how you get to the rum cocktail bar out the back. Popping into Jungle Boy (out the back of Boston Sub) for a cheeky drink is not unlike stepping through a portal that takes you from bustling Windsor to a little pocket of the tropics. Here you can perch up at the bar with a Hemingway Spritz, the long, cool, love child of a grapefruit and maraschino Daiquiri and Italy’s beloved afternoon refresher.

  • Bars
  • Carlton

The just-renovated rooftop bar above Carlton’s King and Godfree has cruised onto the scene this summer with bold new digs, Spritzes galore and a regular rotating of vibing DJs to match. It's very much giving Italian summer nostalgia, thanks to the snazzy bar team's red-hot drinks game, tasty Euro-style snacks and share plates and a young-leaning crowd in their best dress. If you can snag a spot at dusk, grab a Negroni to sip on as you take in the fragrant air of Lygon Street's restaurants over impressive views of Melbourne's city skyline. 

 

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  • Bars
  • Melbourne

Come for an afternoon Aperol Spritz in the sun or a flashy celebration with caviar, cigars and Champagne – either way, you’re well looked after here. Getting a seat with a view is like an Olympic event, so we suggest making a pit stop post-midnight when the after-work crowd have long gone, theatregoers have heeded the final call and it's just you and the night owls looking out over Spring Street’s canopy. Park yourself in one of the many Parisian wicker chairs and order a cigar and a Grand Gunner, a punchy nip with two kinds of rum, fig and cinnamon bitters, nutmeg syrup and frosty egg white. 

  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Coburg

When summer is in full swing you will have patrons considering scaling the bluestone walls of Pentridge Prison to get into this sprawling beer garden by Scottish brewer Brewdog. The fairy-light strung garden is divided up with red-brick walls, there’s a huge deck, and an interior with shelves full of pot plants, board games and ephemera. The signature beer is an Elvis Juice, a citrusy brew perfect for summer and there are guest taps featuring other local Northside brewers.

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  • Bars
  • Craft beer
  • South Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

Recently relocated to Russell Street in the city, Hats and Tatts is more than just a frat bar. That’s what it wants you to think it is. Scratch the surface and you’ll find a whisky collection more than 100 deep, some of the best cocktail-making in Melbourne, and taps that pour a lot more than just beer. It isn’t a place where the ladies go to lunch or be seen, but the frat food of fried chicken and Reuben croquettes are also deceptive given the skill in the kitchen from ex-Touche Hombre chef Nick Willard.

  • Bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

This massive outdoor eatery and beer garden sandwiched between two Melbourne icons (the Yarra River and Flinders Street Station) stretches for 120 metres along the riverbank and is officially Melbourne’s longest bar. It's got Espresso Martinis and Aperol Spritz on tap for quick-fire service so you can spend more time kicking back and less queueing. Otherwise the juicy tang and fresh kick in the Tommy’s Watermelon Margarita is a just reward for your patience. Or you can try and grab a table poolside at Arbory Afloat’s newest incarnation.

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  • Bars
  • Footscray

Walking into Footscray's Bar Josephine is like stepping back in time to that nostalgic pre-Millenium era when VHS was the most-used acronym and plaid shirts were all the rage. This is all owing to its endless collection of videos lining the wall and the rustic furniture that adorns the space (think used bus seats). Is this brand of Melbourne hipster haunt a little passé? Not so with Bar Josephine, which toes the line between feeling disarmingly laidback and colourfully characterful at the same time. Beer is the name of the game here, so pop in for a pint of Hop Nation and enjoy the eccentric vibes and mixed after-work crowds. Bonus points: this mellow haunt is doggo-friendly so you can bring along your four-legged best mate!

  • Bars
  • Melbourne

Perhaps the most unusual thing about Section 8 is that it’s still here. It's Melbourne’s longest-ever pop-up bar, first surfacing in 2006 with low overheads in a Chinatown car park, and then just never leaving. There’s not a clean line in the place, with graffiti and stickers covering almost every surface. White waistcoated waiters are nowhere to be seen, replaced with tattooed funky types who are very happy to walk you through the ever-changing beer list, shake a cocktail or dole out generous pours of wine. Section 8 is an outdoor drinking space, but the smells of nearby Chinatown eateries and smoke (from cigarettes and, sometimes, other things) mean you won’t be mistaking it for a brasserie en plein air. It’s as Melbourne as it gets, and we’re happy to report that means pure rock’n’roll. 

Looking for something to eat?

  • Restaurants

Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Melbourne's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, that is. So behold, our eat-and-destroy list – a guide to Melbourne's 50 best restaurants.

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