Melbourne’s Best Bars and Drinking Dens

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Apr 24, 2017

by LARISSA DUBECKI, Writer

Fancy a tipple? Whether you’re after a classy cocktail or a craft beer, Melbourne is Australia’s bar capital. Here are 10 of the city’s best venues to wet your whistle…

Cutler & Co

Recently revamped with a dazzling, marble-clad front bar enveloping the open kitchen, Cutler & Co takes no prisoners with bar snacks based around the freshest of fresh seafood, a wine list that swoops and soars through space and time, and even a separate aperitivo bar rolling out the Negronis and Champagne.

55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy 

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

It’s not all meat fruit and tipsy cake at the British celebrity chef’s stylish Crown haunt. There’s a destination bar, too, now open to the public from 10pm each night. London drinks svengali Tony Conigliaro matches Heston Blumenthal’s food, blow for blow. His compelling cocktails have one foot in the past and one in the future; take White Cliffs (yes, a tribute to those white cliffs), a mixture of Champagne and chalk liqueur.

Level 3, Crown Towers, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank; (03) 9292 5779

Image: Mark Roper

Heartbreaker

Did someone say dive bar? With red neon cutting through the darkness and a jukebox set within the tight rock’n’roll parameters of 1968 to 1980, Heartbreaker sure looks like a dive bar, complete with libertine spirit. But as you’d expect from Michael Madrusan – the man behind Fitzroy’s proper grown-up cocktail bar, The Everleigh – this place has a serious selection of American whiskies and craft beer. There are also excellent batched cocktails (Negroni, Martini, Old Fashioned and Manhattan), which come in cute bottles that are just perfect for your Instagram feed.

234a Russell Street, Melbourne; (03) 9041 0856

SEE ALSO: The 11 Best Rooftop Bars in Melbourne

Bar Liberty

First impressions say so much and to stumble into a place where aged bourbon is served from a pint-sized 1956 Ford Thunderbird perhaps says “irreverent” and most certainly says “different”. Bar Liberty is a more-dash-than-cash kind of place in the hipster heart of Fitzroy. It boasts an immaculate pedigree (three of the owners – including the booze list’s spiritual leader, Banjo Harris Plane – come from Attica restaurant). There’s also a real interest in the road less travelled, whether it’s minimal-intervention wines, saké or the Briny Bay cocktail made with vodka, olive brine and bay-leaf-infused oil.

234 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

Smalls

Small by name, small by nature. This 24-seat wine bar in a converted warehouse proves that good things come in small(s) packages, with a constantly changing wine list that showcases boutique producers from near and far. A smart interior with industrial windows that look onto gritty-chic Yarra Place is matched with a smart menu of next-gen bar snacks, such as puffed beef tendon.

20-22 Yarra Place, South Melbourne

Om Nom

The latest hook-up at the boutique Adelphi Hotel sees spirits meet science. Om Nom dessert bar now boasts a cocktail menu that goes head to head with the kitchen’s signature multi-element, fantastical treats. Cocktail creator Grant Collins thinks outside the box with drinks designed to be eaten and vaped (yep, drinking cocktails is so 2016). Try the Mojito Science for size; it’s a deconstructed take on the classic, involving a Mojito that’s heated, vaporised and inhaled, along with a Mojito canapé and Mojito sorbet frozen with liquid nitrogen.

187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne; (03) 8080 8827

SEE ALSO: The 10 Best Hard-To-Find Laneway Bars in Melbourne

Pretty Mama

Who can resist the concept of a “Caribbean Grill and Island Bar”? Pretty Mama is a place where rum is revered and the bar snacks coming off the flame-licked grill include a smokin’ jerk chicken and queso fresco corn. Roll up for a pina colada (with a Pretty Mama twist of bitters and ginger) and plenty of good times.

220 Spencer Street, Melbourne

Romeo Lane

It’s furtively lit and darkly handsome but this is one Romeo you can trust with your drinking secrets. Whether you swing classic or more modern, there’s covetable cut glassware for your drink of choice (ours: the aromatic, gin-based Gershwin with ginger, honey and lemon) plus there’s table service, leaving you free to kick back and relax.

1a Crossley Street, Melbourne 

Siglo

Siglo is the place any self-respecting Melburnian takes out-of-towners. The rooftop bar crowning the Supper Club (another iconic venue, while we’re on the subject) boasts brilliant views of Parliament House, the spire of St Patrick’s Cathedral and the domes of the next-door Princess Theatre but there’s more to its charms than mere real estate. It’s all about the Champagne, darling… and classic cocktails, premium spirits and Cuban cigars.

2/161 Spring Street, Melbourne

Bar Americano 

A venue to make you feel like you’re in on a secret, Bar Americano is hard to find, harder to get into (there’s room for 10) and even harder to get a seat (there are no seats). Lean against the bar, if you have to, and order an Americano with house-infused vermouth, bitters, lemon juice and soda.

20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne 

Top image: Heartbreaker

SEE ALSO: Our Guide to The Best Wine Bars in Melbourne