Stuck on options to go for a ‘Thirsty Thursday’, ‘Friyays’ or ‘Saturday sessions’? We’ve found the 10 best-hidden bars you should know about in Melbourne. Got a pen and paper at the ready? Great! ‘Cause you’re gonna wanna take notes on where to discover Melbourne’s best-hidden bars.
The Croft Institute
Address: 21 Croft Alley, Melbourne, 3000
Opening Times: Mon-Thu 5PM-late; Fri 5PM-3AM
A drink a day keeps the doctor away right? The Croft Institute is one of Melbourne’s most loved medical-themed hidden bars. Located at the bottom end of Croft Alley, and is spread Over three floors. Each floor is dimly lit and infused with the same cold, slightly creepy atmosphere.
The ground floor resembles your old science classroom, with little gas taps for hooking up a Bunsen burner and display cases of laboratory equipment.
As you travel upstairs you pass through a waiting room, but this time you’re not waiting a full hour+ for an appointment. The Departments of Male and Female Hygiene (aka the toilets), which bear an unnerving resemblance to hospital examination rooms.
Beneath Driver Lane
Address: Shop 3, Driver Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 4PM-3AM; Sun 6PM-3AM
With Reuben sandwiches served until 2 AM, and whiskey and cocktails constantly flowing, it’s easy to lose track of time in Beneath Driver Lane. Overshadowed by the Emporium shopping centre, this hidden bar is home to an unmarked door of an old bank vault.
Can’t scrap together for a holiday this year? Don’t worry. As you walk down the spiralling staircase, you’re taken away from Melbourne’s busy CBD and sent first class to New Orleans. Keep your eyes peeled as you head down the subterranean blues bar, or you’ll miss the private tasting room. Get those taste buds tingling by tasting cocktails, whiskey and wine, with the help of Hamish and the team.
With low hanging lamps and brick arched booths, this hidden bar is perfect for a date night. By 11 PM the bar is in full swing, but the service remains as tentative as when you rocked up at 7 PM with your beau. If you’ve worked your way through their mouth-watering cocktail menu, you can custom build your own Martini, accompanied by liquid nitrogen.
Eau De Vie
Address: 1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Opening Times: Mon-Thu 5PM-1AM; Fri-Sat 4PM-1AM; Sun 4PM-11PM
This hidden bar pays homage to the American prohibition era and is now one of the worst kept secrets in Melbourne. Even though it is on everyone’s lips, Eau De Vie continues to be one of the busiest cocktail bars in the town due to its ability to transport you to the charms of yesteryear.
The Attic in Black Pearl
Address: 304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, 3065
Opening Times: Daily 5PM-3AM
This hidden bar, now a checklist destination for travellers is where Melburnians go if they want a bloody good cocktail. No matter how many times you come here you’ll never tire of their innovate cocktails. The list doesn’t sit still for too long, always on the moving and keeping step with moods and seasons.
Locals, travellers, and people alike are welcomed with equal warmth, seven days a week. The bar is known for fostering and churning out some of Australia’s most talented and fresh-faced bartenders. Made possible by its watertight team culture, nurtured by Tash Conte with a devotion that’s seen her become a rare female figurehead in a male-dominated industry.
Address: Level 1, 1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Opening Times: Mon-Wed 5PM-Midnight; Thu-Sat 5PM-1AM
If you’re hitting Hihou this weekend make sure you’re wearing your best socks. No holes. I’m not joking. Near the corner of Spring Street, you’ll be ushered upstairs to a sultry sake den. You can keep your kit on if you’re dining in the front room, but if you’ve booked a spot in the plushly carpeted top-tier dining space, you’ll be asked to slip off your shoes before sliding under one of the low-slung tables.
There’s the must-order Hihou hot dog, a smoky arabiki sausage on a sesame-dusted bun, served with sharp pickled onions and bottles of wasabi mayo and tonkastu (BBQ sauce) to dip and dollop as you please. Teriyaki-sweet anago (eel) gets bundled into nori rolls with black rice and the refreshing crunch of cucumber. You could happily make a meal out of these snacks, but if you’ve gone to the effort of untying your shoelaces, you may as well dip into mains territory, too.
Cocktails are also given reverential treatment, prepared with science-lab beakers, stirrers and fine Riddle glassware.
Loch and Key
Address: 34 Franklin Street, Melbourne, 3000
Opening Times: Mon-Fri 5PM-5AM; Sat 5PM-7AM; Sun 7PM-5AM
Melbourne’s oldest pub has a secret. Under lock and key, hidden up a rickety staircase, behind a bookcase in the Captain Melville bar is a secret water hole. Rich timbers, mounted deer heads, and a broad deck lined with salvaged coffee tables.
Loch and Key is best known as a late-night reveller, but the early evenings shouldn’t be ignored, as the sun filters onto the balcony, the electronica makes way for ’70s funk.
Lay Low Bar
Address: 93 Buckley Street, Seddon, Melbourne, 3011
Opening Times: Wed-Thu 5PM-10PM; Fri 12PM-11PM; Sat 2PM-11PM; Sun 2PM-9PM
Address: 2nd Floor (please ring the bell) 16 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
Opening Times: Sun 6PM-12AM; Mon-Wed 5PM-12AM; Thu 5PM-1AM; Fri 5PM-2AM; Sat 6PM-2AM
The sugariest cocktails you will ever drink, a punk mix of black steel bunk beds, 80s tabletop video games and scratchy woolen blankets, what’s not to love? This hidden bar, up a few flights of stairs, is only accessible by a locked door, that the bartenders have to buzz you in – cool right? With all industrial metal and dark corners, it’s a perfect location for canoodling with your date or plotting and masterminding with friends.
Address: 4/264 Swanston Street, Melbourne, 3000
Opening Times: Daily 2PM-3AM
If you’re a fan of adventurous drinking and late-night dumplings this is the hidden bar for you. Goldilocks secured Time Out’s People’s Choice Award in 2015 and it’s not hard to see why. Four floors above a Chinese diner, the terrace allows you to have a relaxed night out, without the pretension atmosphere that can come with some rooftop bars.
Address: 20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne, 3000
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 5PM-1AM
Even though Bar Americano is a ten-person cocktail bar and modelled after the stand-up Italian cafés (where you have a lean, an espresso, a pastry, and quickly leave) it’s still a must. It was put on the hidden bars list for having an unapologetically and exclusively classic cocktail list. The staff makes them with expert precision and this hidden bar has produced some of the city’s best bartending talents.