Melbourne is famed for its cool cocktail bars, be it an open-air rooftop garden, a cosy laneway nook or a basement jazz den. Whether you’re in the mood for a lazy afternoon tipple or a naughty nightcap in the wee hours, there’s a stylish bar somewhere serving up the good stuff. Here’s our top list of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne.
For a touch of vintage Gatsby glamour, head straight to the elegant Nick and Nora’s. Named after the literary duo Nick and Nora from 1930s detective novel The Thin Man, the cocktails and champagne flow freely in this laneway gem, accompanied by exquisite oysters, caviar and canapés. Attend a champagne masterclass hosted by their talented bartenders or indulge in a sophisticated cocktail soirée in The Salon.
Who said cocktails are an evening affair only? Brunch is the perfect combination of breakfast and lunch and arguably, Melbourne’s greatest bottomless brunch is on weekends at Left Bank Bottomless Brunch. Indulge in a two-hour extravaganza at the Southbank bar, with free-flowing cocktail jugs and a tasty selection from the brunch menu. Left Bank also caters for late-night shenanigans with a delicious supper menu to wash down a negroni or two.
The cocktail connoisseurs at 1806 on Exhibition St are not only making some of the best cocktails in Melbourne, but they’re also happy to teach you the tricks of the trade. Learn how to mix a dirty martini or enjoy a rare whiskey tasting in one of their cocktail classes. You can even take an alcohol-free masterclass to craft the perfect mocktail. Be sure to check out the hidden underground cocktail den, The Understudy.
For a drink with altitude, head up to the rooftop cocktail garden of Madame Brussels Bar on Bourke St, above the famous Spaghetti Tree restaurant. A quirky pink-and-white styled Alice in Wonderland affair, this is not your regular rooftop bar. Relax in the garden with a signature cocktail or their legendary housemade red sangria, and enjoy spectacular views of the sun setting over the city skyline.
Step back in time to 1920s prohibition in America at the Eau de Vie Bar Melbourne, tucked into Melbourne’s renowned Flinders Lane precinct. Indulge in a five-course cocktail degustation experience in the Eau de Vie Library or slip behind the bookcase to the secret Whiskey Room and sample one of their fine and rare drops. They even have bottle lockers, where you can purchase and store your favourite bottle of liquor for your next visit.
Ring the doorbell at this hidden laneway bar and once inside, make your choice. Inspired by the city’s culture and history, cosy Berlin Bar is split into two: opulent and capitalist West Berlin on one side with its luxurious decor and the austere Soviet East Berlin on the other, complete with Communist propaganda on the walls. The menu of finely crafted Cold War cocktails will take you on a journey through Germany during the time of the Berlin Wall.
No cocktail experience in Melbourne would be complete without a sip stop at Cookie. This iconic beer hall, cocktail bar and eating house with its mural-adorned walls is always buzzing. Located in the historic Curtin House on Swanston St, Cookie has long been a fan favourite. Feast on authentic Thai dishes paired with expertly-mixed cocktails and soak up the atmosphere beneath the sky-high ceilings or outside on the Juliet balconies.
Where to stay
You’re spoilt for choice with accommodation options in Melbourne. Find plenty of places to stay such as stylish hotels and well-appointed apartments, all within walking distance of cocktail bars in Melbourne CBD.