It's pretty safe to say that the more difficult a Melbourne bar is to locate, the better it is (once you're finally in there). Knowing where to find drinking institutions like EDV and Lily Blacks is pretty much a prerequisite for all cocktail-loving and wine-sipping locals. For an even closer look into the city's bar culture, browse our guides to Melbourne's best wine bars, whisky barsand cocktail bars.
Hidden bars in Melbourne
Bar Americano, if you can get in, is a proper Italian-style bar, where you can get an Americano (as in a long black), an Americano (as in a cocktail of sweet vermouth, Campari and soda) and an Old Pal (that's rye, sweet vermouth and Campari in the international language of tasty drinks).
This jazz-infused shrine to the cocktail on Malthouse Lane stands for inevitable moral destruction – and one hell of a good time. It boasts science lab gadgetry, casual good-time vibes and one helluva whisk(e)y collection, all rolled into one dark-hued leather-bedecked den of fine drinks.
This new Japanese-style cocktail and wine bar has more grace and charm in its toilets than most of us could ever hope to possess. Here they are serving sharp drinks in a beautiful room to a strictly limited crowd so dress up, go early and stay as long as you're able to behave yourself.
Prop up the three sided bar or settle into a dark leather booth amongst the art deco lamps and potted palms to give their list a workout. It's all twisted pre-30s classics and custom cocktails here, and you’ll be served by a wisecracking crew who rock slicked back quiffs and waistcoats, make their own bitters and hand cut ice to order.
Croft Institute is located at the bottom end of an alley off a laneway in the heart of Chinatown. The ground floor resembles a dark and eerie med-school classroom, the top floor is styled after an old-fashioned high school gymnasium and the bathrooms have an unnerving hospital vibe to them.
If you can get past the improvised vibe (and the occasional mosquito bite) it’s a brilliant place to spend an evening. The drinks selection is solid and ranges from top shelf spirits to longnecks for the student boozer and you can even get your dance on once the evening wears on a little.
Misty Bar is a grunge-glam laneway joint where a spacey ‘70s illuminated back bar contrasts with industrial lights, and heavily graffitied toilets. But every bars fan knows that a good venue is as much about great attitude as tasty drinks, and luckily for us Misty’s star is back on the rise.
Gently lit by lamps and candles, this easily-missed little bar offers a cosy hideaway from the fuss and noise of the big, mean city. Part of Murmur’s attraction has to do with the friendly, skilful staff, but the bar itself embodies old-fashioned charm and the drinks menu is thicker than War and Peace.
Housed in a narrow, shabby old building at the end of Sniders Lane, Sister Bella is the sibling of the late lamented Saint Jerome. Furnished with vintage flotsam and jetsam and staffed by heavily tattooed cool kids, it has a surprisingly calm and friendly vibe even on the busiest nights.