From the fermented to the dehydrated, Melbourne’s bartenders are turning to fresh local produce and innovative kitchen techniques as they push the boundaries to give classic cocktails a modern twist.
Cocktails will take centre stage in February with the inaugural Melbourne Cocktail Festival (Feb 26 – Mar 1), a five-day celebration of events and experienced served by the world’s best bars and bartenders.
For those that enjoy sightseeing through the bottom of a glass, here are Melbourne’s best drink-swilling cocktail bars the city has to offer every night of the week.
The Speakeasy at The Barre
Squirreled away outside behind the Arts Centre Melbourne, visitors can discover a pop-up speakeasy bar inspired by CHICAGO's prohibition era until Saturday 14 March. Hidden behind the trees, The Speakeasy at The Barre is true to its probation era inspiration with green painted doors and some drinks served in teapots. Those seeking a specialty cocktail inspired by the award-winning musical CHICAGO, the bar discreetly serves cocktails including 'The Roxie - Herradua Paloma' and 'The Velma - Fords Gin Bramble'. Open until Saturday 14 March. 100 Saint Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria, 3004.
Not the average cocktail bar. What visitors will find, if they can find the venue, is an intimate minimalist room dominated by a wooden bar with a dozen stools, no shelves lined with bottles of spirits and a menu of 25 perfectly crafted cocktails. Located in Melbourne’s trendy inner-northern neighbourhood of Fitzroy, finding Above Board is half the fun with entry through an unmarked door inside Beer Mash or via the graffiti-riddled Chopper Lane, which can’t be found on Google Maps. Level 1, 306 Smith Street (access through Chopper Lane) Collingwood, Victoria, 3066
High end cocktail bars aren’t traditionally found in food courts but there’s nothing traditional about Melbourne’s newest cocktail bar, BYRDI. Opened late last year in the new ELLA precinct by cocktail gurus Luke Whearty and Aki Nishikura, the team behind Singapore’s celebrated World’s Top 50 Best Bar Operation Tigger, cocktails are built with care and precision over time. Cocktails such as Lilly Pilly features 30-day fermented Yarra Valley apple, riberry, red cabbage and hibiscus or the Paperbark which includes smoked paperbark, Mount Zero Olive Oil and fermented passionfruit. GD075, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
Open until 3am, this Fitzroy neighbourhood stalwart always brings its A-Game to the cocktail-making table. The Attic upstairs ensures an opulent cocktail drinking experience complete with table service and retro glassware with a weekly changing cocktail menu and food served until late. The venue, which was named Best International Cocktail Bar at the 2017 Spirited Awards, has been a breeding ground for the country’s best bartenders and at the forefront of cocktail innovation. 304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065.
For a night out full of speakeasy charm, oh-so-knowledgeable barkeeps and impeccable cocktails, head to The Everleigh, above the new Belles Hot Chicken on Gertrude Street. Fight for one of the only three seats at the bar or settle into a comfy leather booth and find out how it has earned a spot on the 2017 World's 50 Best Bars list. Inspired by the Golden Era of fine drinking, The Everleigh focuses upon classics from the time of the cocktail’s birth. The Everleigh boasts one of the largest classic cocktail book selections in the world displayed within our in-house library, allowing us to offer a fantastically broad selection of drinks in various styles. The team have recently opened a new late-night hidden cocktail bar, Bar Margaux, in the city. Upstairs, 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia, 3065.
Eau de Vie
A bar straight out of 1920’s prohibition America, from the moment visitors walk in they’re taken back to a much forgotten era. The Eau de Vie team have crafted a cocktail list of old traditional crafts with a range of flavours from light and crisp, through to fresh and fruity. Secretly hidden behind our book case, the Whisky Room owes its name to our large collection of rare and exclusive whiskies that live here. The venue hosts three cocktail and four whisky masterclasses for those looking to hone their knowledge, or just have some fun. 1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
Located on Level 55 of the Rialto Tower, 236 metres above the streets below, guests can enjoy spectacular views of Melbourne through the bottom of a cocktail glass. Lui Bar's unmatched ambience echoes the opulence of Gold Rush-era Melbourne as reflected in both the cocktail list and decor. Innovation is behind exceptional cocktails, including seasonal options such as the Melon Lowball, made of caramelised butter-washed Honeydew melon stock with lemon aspen, Sage, Wattle seeds, Victorian highland mineral water, Pampero Blanco Rum. The cherry on top for peckish guests is a tempting snack menu designed by Vue de monde. Level 55 Rialto Towers, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3000.
Since opening more than a decade ago, 1806 has become firmly steeped in the Melbourne cocktail culture, attracting the finest mixologists from Melbourne and abroad. Based in the heart of the city’s theatre district, the iconic Melbourne cocktail bar is housed in a historical building on Exhibition Street. Combining “prohibition-era” decor, and quirky, insightful staff, with a repertoire of classic cocktails to please everyone from the casual patron to the connoisseur, 1806 is an experience like no other. 1806 pride themselves on using home-made ingredients, the freshest produce available and the best quality ice, to create the finest cocktail experience imaginable. 169 Exhibition St, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
Peaches is the city’s newest rooftop bar by name and by nature. Located above American barbeque restaurant Cheek on Swanston Street, Peaches is a two-level cocktail bar and rooftop. The beautiful fun bar is awash with pink suede booths, banquettes, tiles and terrazzo while the rooftop offers a central bar and outdoor lounges with city views. Level 2, 301 Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
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