The best cocktail bars in Melbourne

Whether you’re after a sun-drenched rooftop or a dimly lit speakeasy that you need a map to find, these bars mix the city's finest cocktails
1806 Negroni
By Time Out editors |
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Melburnians are almost as passionate about their cocktails as they are about their coffee. What's the proper way to make a Martini? Gin or Vodka Gimlet? And should an Aperol Spritz ever be on tap? 

We have sipped our way around this great city to find the bars with the best atmosphere, the most creative bartenders and of course, the best drinks. Whether you're 

Whisky fans, you're in luck. Melbourne's got some of the best whisky bars around. If wine's more your thing, head to Melbourne's best wine bars

Where to drink cocktails in Melbourne

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Pouring cocktails at Above Board Melbourne
Bars, Cocktail bars

Above Board

icon-location-pin Collingwood

Hayden Lambert is a former Time Out Bartender of the Year for his tenure at Bar Americano. He must have gotten used to close quarters at Presgrave Place, because his current digs are almost as compact. His bar is a command centre at the heart of a tiny room, with only a handful of seats facing Lambert as he dispenses drinks that put the art back into artisanal. 

2
An interior shot at The Everleigh showing people standing and si
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Everleigh

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

You won’t find better shaken or stirred drinks in Melbourne than at this Gertrude Street speakeasy. This joint celebrates the jazzy golden era of bartending, when four ingredient cocktails were king. The short and classic menu has no vodka, just a handful of Daiquiris and Mary Pickfords – a tarty little number of fresh pineapple juice, light rum and Maraschino.

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3
A bartender behind the bar at Romeo Lane pouring a cocktail from
Bars, Cocktail bars

Romeo Lane

icon-location-pin Melbourne

This tiny bar nails a cosy, at-home ambience; it speaks of intimate drinking and secret meetings, with pristine, refined cocktails designed for savouring, rather than smashing. Take the Cardinal as a case in point of Sipsmith Gin, Cocchi Americano and Aperol stirred over ice, resulting in a Martini-meets-Negroni marvel.

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Tanqueray 10 gin cocktail at Black Pearl
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

Black Pearl

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

The Black Pearl formula is simple: great cocktails, good chat and a stellar iPod mix of doo-wop, bluegrass and ‘Ride like the Wind’ by Christopher Cross. It houses vintage glassware and a thirst for excellent cocktails. Liquor master Evan Stanley is up for any challenge; dream up an obscure cocktail recipe and his rendition will surely impress.

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5
A delicious looking cocktail with a hundred dollar bill pegged to the rim
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

Eau de Vie

icon-location-pin Melbourne

At any given time someone at Eau de Vie is shaking, freezing or setting drinks on fire, which makes this bar both a thrilling and hazardous place of refreshment. They have a whole room dedicated to whisky, and your Martini is snap chilled with liquid nitrogen. This beautiful Prohibition-style speakeasy is washed with jazz music and daring drinks.

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Bar at Beneath Driver Lane
Bars, Cocktail bars

Beneath Driver Lane

icon-location-pin 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 feels comfortable and cosy. The folks behind the bar are all practised professionals; personable, knowledgeable and looking sharp in black chef coats. What they’re mixing up is pretty sharp, too. For a bit of wow factor, custom build your Martini in a delicate wine glass chilled with swirling liquid nitrogen.

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7
Whisky and Alement bartender
Bars

Whisky & Alement

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 What sets this bar apart isn’t just their warm service that’s as happy to guide a novice as it is to talk serious shop with a firewater devotee; it's the fact that they also go so far as to import hard-to-find gems and sell them both by the shot and by the bottle, and then mix them into some kickass cocktails.

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Beer cocktail at Gin Palace
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

Gin Palace

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This blue-lit bar flaunts an impressive collection of whiskeys, some old world wine, and a list of gin that rolls 60 deep. Ranging from your familiar London dry styles like Bombay, to the botanical drops like Hendricks. A ‘surrealist’ Martini freezes its ingredients for two days, ensuring the ultimate frost factor with minimal dilution.

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9
A close up shot of a negroni cocktail at Hihou
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

Hihou

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Expect charm and sophistication from the Japanese infused cocktail and wine bar. The man behind Izakaya Den, Simon Denton, does formal without being fusty. Large orbs of ice dominate the Riedel glassware, anticipating the trickling of Umeshu (plum-infused gin) or a Japanese whiskey.

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Rum Diary Bar cocktail
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Rum Diary Bar

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

The menu is a beautiful ode to every shade of rum, from sweet and sticky Zacapa XO to harsh raw rhum agricole, which smells somewhere between tequila and petrol (it’s actually delicious). They do a great Piña Colada too, made with spiced rum that’s been infused with toasted coconut and chargrilled pineapple.

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More of Melbourne's best bars

Whisky and Alement bartender
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

The 50 best bars in Melbourne

Time Out's editors tortured their brains (and destroyed their livers) to bring you this: the definitive guide to drinking in Melbourne.

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