Next to craft beers, cocktails are probably the lifeblood of Melbourne's nightlife. From well-done classics to elaborate concoctions, Melbourne's bars know how to shake, stir and muddle the best cocktails to fuel thirsty punters into the wee hours. We've picked out the best of the bunch that has consistently impressed us with their alcoholic potions.
Where to drink cocktails in 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.
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.
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.
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.
This American bar is modelled on the Europeans who discovered liqour and jazz in the US and took it home to show their friends. Using recipes from one of the most influential cocktail books in 1917, Recipes for Mixed Drinks by Ensslin, bartenders here are obsessed with creating the perfect cocktail.
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.
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.
Taxidermy beasts greet you behind the bar at this classy speakeasy in Windsor. It’s all about the whisky here. For the whisky regulars, there are 50 types of single malts and blends to consider. Try the Mad Margarita for a spicy tequila-based cocktail that'll put hair on your chest and fire in your belly.
They like to have fun at this free-wheelin’ Art Deco cocktail bar. Behind the island bar is a towering pyramid of liquor and a glowing pharmaceutical display of tiny brown bitters bottles in all flavours from orange to bacon. You may have encountered the Pickleback, the whiskey shot, pickle liquor combo that tastes a bit like a burger only boozy.