Melbourne is best known for its numerous cafes – it’s basically impossible to walk around the city without stumbling upon one. However, if you need something a little stronger and are craving the Melbourne nightlife scene; you’re in luck, because Melbourne bars are just as prevalent as their daytime counterpart, however they provide a whole different range of experiences. Ranked from the most chill to ‘you’re not getting home before midnight’, Melbourne bars cater to all types of personalities. Here are the 10 best bars in Melbourne you need to visit. Bottoms up!
1) Come for the Pizza (x3), stay for the hidden bar.
Pizza Pizza Pizza is a New York inspired restaurant conveniently located opposite Parliament train station. However, what is truly amazing about this restaurant is not their to-die-for pizza, but the unnamed hidden bar at the back of the store. Once you pull away the glossy black curtain, grab a seat and sip on a taste of Melbourne’s best classic cocktails.
2) Feel sophisticated as fuck at the Boilermaker House.
If your years of underage-university drinking in Australia have caused you to be completely done with the mere thought of spirits; head on over to the Boilermaker House on Lonsdale Street. A spacious establishment, Boilermaker House has the aim of creating a pleasurable drinking experience for you, even if you are new to the more acquired tastes of beer and whiskey. P.S. boilermakers also come with some additional cheese or meat tasting to truly enhance the flavours.
3) X marks the spot at The Black Pearl in Fitzroy.
Specialising in masterfully-mixed cocktails; The Black Pearl is a sophisticated looking bar with plenty of comfortable places to sit and let the bartenders create their art in front of your eyes. Albeit the bar becomes somewhat full on weekends as expected, the Attic upstairs can provide that extra comfort room and peace of mind.
4) A hidden paradise behind a frozen wasteland. Jungle Boy.
A general rule of thumb in Melbourne; if the establishment is tucked away somewhere then it’s probably a damn good one. Jungle Boy on Chapel Street is no exception – a fridge door at Boston Sub is what separates you from tropical themed cocktails in a tiki mug.
5) The ‘cool factor’ of The Mill House is in no way linked to The Simpsons character.
If you’re in search of a more fancier ‘chill’ venue, The Mill House on Flinders Lane is probably your best bet. Bring a date or your friends; this bar/restaurant is the perfect environment for those looking to unwind but are not fans of Melbourne’s live music scene.
6) Take a trip to the Golden Monkey to travel back in time to 1920’s Old Shanghai.
Tucked away in Hardware Lane, this Asian restaurant and cocktail bar is inspired by 1920’s Shanghai. With a chill atmosphere, sit back and enjoy some live jazz on Tuesdays, R&B on Thursdays, and live DJ on Saturdays for the busier weekend crowd. A laid-back environment of couches you could fall asleep on, the best part of this bar are the cocktails. Enjoy a fusion cocktail, sit back, and relax to the sound of the blues.
7) Open Studio; come for the crepes and stay for the live band (or vice versa).
Another live music bar gem, Open Studio in Northcote has a focus on showcasing Melbourne’s hidden talent. Every day features a minimum of two artists or bands – each specialising in various forms of music, from smooth jazz to afro beats. You can hear the soulful sounds that come from within even as you pass by; a bar not to be missed if you’re in the area. Did I forget to mention this bar also has the best crepes in Northcote?
8) Following a small Chinatown alleyway and surrounded by graffiti covered walls? Continue on.
For those unafraid to delve within the inner streets of Melbourne in search for that perfect place, The Croft Institute is the way to go. On Croft Alley, this bar spans over three levels – a science lab, The Experiment (a different décor each month), and an American style gym. This bar is more for those wanting a little less chill and a little more thrill, as it can get pretty crowded on weekends.
9) Up the rickety old stairs you go to find yourself at The Toff in Town.
If you know Melbourne, you know the Curtin House. And within the vast land of bars and clubs that make the building its iconic self is The Toff in Town. A compact space that combines the Melbourne edgy kid aesthetic (red lighting and even redder curtained walls), with homegrown musical talent, this bar is specifically for those who want to delve as deep as possible into Melbourne’s bar rabbit-hole. Please note; you won’t be able to wear the same clothes to work the next day without being judged.
10 Asian Beer Café by day; ABC by night.
A simple name, yet probably the most well-known restaurant/bar to be found in Melbourne. The Asian Beer Café (ABC as the cool kids call it) doesn’t seem like much during the day – a good, cheap place to eat in Melbourne Central and enjoy a day-drink or two – but transforms after 8pm into one of the busiest bar/club scenes in Melbourne. With weekly specials, this bar is where you’ll find most of the Melbourne youth chugging down cocktail jugs on the ‘dance floor’ before they hit the actual clubs. Fair warning, if you head to ABC you’ll probably end up at Maccas at 4am.
Despite your mood or next day agenda, bars in Melbourne can cater to any of your needs. Whether you want some chill vibes to let your stresses melt away, or to dance them off yourself; there is a bar for all in Melbourne waiting to be discovered. Its up to you to begin your very own Age of Exploration.