If you’re gasping for a drink come 5pm on a Friday, then look no further than the best bars in Melbourne’s CBD. Whether you’re partial to a cheeky pale ale, an Aperol spritz or perhaps a petite glass of rosé, this list is a guarantee that you’ll never go thirsty.
Inspired by the gin palaces that graced dark alleyways in cities all over the world during the 1800s, Gin Palace has established itself as one of the best bars in Melbourne. Celebrating its 20th birthday in 2017, it serves over 200 gins and features a martini menu with a vast array of concoctions, making it the perfect destination for all gin lovers.
10 Russell Pl, Melbourne
1806 was the year that the word ‘cocktail’ came into being. There’s no question that Melbourne bar, 1806, was opened with a strong desire to celebrate this time and the concoctions it inspired. With options that range from the classics to won’t-find-elsewhere, 1806 has established a strong reputation for being one of Melbourne’s best.
169 Exhibition St, Melbourne
A quintessentially Melbourne venue, Bomba’s rooftop is home to not only some of the city’s best views but also one of the best bars in Melbourne. It offers a fantastic combination of cocktails and tapas, all lit up by the glow of the city lights, perfect for balmy summer nights and crisp winter evenings.
Rooftop, 103 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC, 3000
More grunge than gorgeous, Section 8 is Melbourne’s original hipster container bar. Housed in a graffiti-covered shipping container and plonked in the middle of a Chinatown parking lot, patrons sit around tables made from wooden shipping palettes sipping on craft beer and listening to some of Melbourne’s best DJs.
27-29 Tattersalls Ln, Melbourne
Nothing says Ladies Night like an evening of DD Cups at one of the cutest and most colourful bars in Melbourne. Madame Brussels has long been the destination for those who love a garden party but would rather a Pimms than an Earl Grey with their chicken sandwiches and cupcakes.
Level 3, 59-63 Bourke St, Melbourne
Bar Americano was created to celebrate the golden age of drinking in America – the prohibition of course! Refined European service, standing room only and classic American cocktails, what more could you want?
20 Presgrave Pl, Melbourne
A much-loved classic, Siglo’s broad rooftop terrace boasts one of Melbourne’s best views over Parliament House and the happenings of Spring Street. Even on the chilliest of nights, the terrace will be packed with people pushing for some space, cigar in one hand and a negroni in the other.
Level 2, 161 Spring St, Melbourne VIC, 3000
Definitely a destination for those in the know, Cabinet Bar & Balcony is a fabulous destination for anyone looking to escape the craziness of Melbourne’s rooftops after 5pm. Overlooking Swanston St, the balcony is an ideal people watching location come rain, hail or shine.
11 Rainbow Alley, Melbourne
Named after the Chinese symbol for joy and happiness, Double Happiness is one of Melbourne’s most loved laneway bars, with just a touch of communist China. Pop in for one of their signature espresso martinis or if you’re hoping to spice up your life, try the Mr Foo, made with chilli vodka, coriander, fresh lime and dry ginger.
21 Liverpool St, Melbourne
Melbourne’s first laneway bar, The Croft Institute, is an experience unlike any other. With shots served in syringes and drinks mixed according to your own taste, it’s no wonder it’s widely considered to be one of Melbourne’s best bars.
21 Croft Alley, Melbourne
Kirk’s Wine Bar
Kirk’s Wine Bar looks after those who prefer to wind down with a large glass of pinot and a big slice of brie. Offering fine wine and great food, it’s perfect for a relaxed evening in the city with friends.
Cnr Hardware Lane & Little Bourke St, Melbourne
It’s not everyday that you find a bar that has a collection of 850 different malt whiskies and 52 beers on offer. With award-winning bartenders and some pretty impressive food and drinks, Boilermaker House has a way of tickling a fancy you never knew you had.
209-211 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
If sake, wine, plum wine, and shochu are your type of drinks, look no further than Hihou. A small Japanese restaurant with an impressive, modern interior and beautiful views over Fitzroy Gardens, it’s one of the best bars in Melbourne. The only hard part will be finding it!
Level 1, 1 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
Up the top of Fancy Hanks on Bourke Street, this new rooftop bar is quickly building a reputation as one of the best bars in Melbourne. Its amazing location and fun new twists on classic cocktails are just two of its drawcards – stop by for an afternoon of delicious snacks, colourful cocktails, and a bit of a boogie when the sun sets.
Rooftop, 1/79 Bourke St, Melbourne
On the surface, Eau de Vie seems to be a sophisticated bar with waiters straight out of the 1920s and soft jazz music in the background. However, when you order a martini so chilled that is requires liquid nitrogen, it’s clear there isn’t much old fashioned about this joint.
1 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne
Jukeboxes, neon lights, vinyl and hand-cut ice are just a few of the exciting bits awaiting you at Michael Madrusan’s city venue, Heartbreaker. Serving crafty classic cocktails in cute little bottles, with a soundtrack of classic 60s and 70s beats, this chic slice of Russell Street is a must visit venue.
234 Russell St, Melbourne
Know a bar that should be on the list? Let us know!
Words by Hilary Van Leeuwen