It may not have the best beaches or harbour views – but what Melbourne lacks in the looks department it more than makes up for in its thriving bar scene. Melbourne’s much-loved hospitality industry is the heartbeat of the city, and was sorely missed during the city’s never-ending lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. With those days (thankfully) fading into the distance, this is set to be the ultimate summer of bar hopping.
It’s the season to settle in for relaxed local sessions and perfectly-mixed cocktails at some of Melbourne’s best. Here’s our handpicked list of bars that will suit practically any occasion for the months ahead. Some are old favourites, and some are newcomers that might surprise you. Oh, and they all use Square, cheers!
Header Image: Bar Americano
Patient Wolf Distilling Co
Lovers of locally distilled gin will be no strangers to Patient Wolf. A bottle of their Melbourne Dry is a must-have for any home bar. But why stop at that. The distiller and bar has a home that’s tucked away in a refurbed red brick warehouse at the South Melbourne side of Southbank. The venue offers a place to experience their gin the best way possible. Pull up a seat at the sleek brass-accented bar to watch the master gin mixologists do their thing.
It’s not just your typical G&Ts on the menu. At Patient Wolf you can expect to have your gin knowledge broadened by the well-versed and passionate front-of-house team. Why not order the gin flight and take the chance to sample a selection of unique gins, including the Summer Thyme gin – a favourite for warmer days, with complex and refreshing herbal notes.
Or, if you have the time and inclination, book in for a gin masterclass. You’ll enjoy an hour of dedicated gin education, and learn how to mix a classic and not-so-classic selection of gin-based cocktails. Your ticket will also get you a flight and a spritz on arrival.
Patient Wolf Distilling Co.
34-36 Market Street
Image: Patient Wolf Distilling Co
Runner Up Bar
Is there anything better than a rooftop bar on a warm summer evening? We can’t think of much that could beat the Runner Up experience, even if they do dub themselves ‘second best’. The newcomer can be found in the freshly reimagined Collingwood Yards arts and hospitality hub, alongside the likes of Hope Street Radio and Licorice Pie Records
Versatile and welcoming, Runner Up is set to become an inner-north favourite for everything from an after-work beer, to Sundays sipping from the selection of local and Italian wines. Come for the drinks, stay for the 270-degree city skyline views over Melbourne.
The cocktail list is perfectly concise, with a strong Italian-Australian influence. On a hot day, a glass of the Bloody Spritz will go down a treat: Bloody Shiraz gin, Prosecco, blood orange and soda.
Runner Up Bar
Above 35 Johnston Street
Collingwood Yards, Collingwood 3066
Image: Runner Up Bar
10 years and still going stronger than ever – if there was ever a time to celebrate the fabulous Everleigh cocktail bar, it’s this summer. A classic bar with over ten years of cocktail mixing excellence to its name, the Everleigh must be now considered a Melbourne institution. It placed in the highly coveted ‘World’s 50 Best Bars’ list courtesy of Drinks International in 2013 and 2014 and continued to wow regulars and new visitors alike with its immaculate cocktails and service.
Whether venturing in for a special occasion, a first date, or just a quick post-dinner digestif, you’re in good hands with the expert team of mixologists here. The bar glows from a soft backlit warmth, with old-school glass cabinets and chic tiling that make you feel like you’re settling in for something special.
If you’re in the mood to venture beyond your classic cocktail choices, we recommend leaving your order in the hands of the intuitive and imaginative staff. You can also shop the collection of pre-mixed premium cocktails for pre-order pickup or delivery – available on the Eveleigh’s Online store.
Level 1/150-156 Gertrude St
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Image: The Everleigh
Luxe leather booths, low lighting and tiled details that look like you’ve stumbled into a Parisian brasserie: that’s the impeccable vibe at Bar Margaux, a venue that’s become a fast favourite for French food lovers in Melbourne.
Beyond the MGX burger and steak frites, the cocktail list is nothing short of magnifique, too. There are petit versions of classic cocktails, plus plenty of French and Australian wines to select from.
Bar Margaux took out top honours at the 2021 Australian Bar Awards, winning Bar of the Year – and it’s not hard to see why. Cocktails, wine and French comfort food is the speciality here, making it a venue that truly comes alive after dark. At the top end of Lonsdale Street, set down in a basement, it’s the ideal setting for post-concert drinks and snacks with close friends on your next night out on the town.
Basement/111 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Image: Bar Margaux
Wherefore art thou best cocktails, Melbourne? Down a cobbled laneway (Crossley Street) off the Paris end of Bourke Street at Romeo Lane is where. Intimate and unassuming, this little bar does classic cocktails that never disappoint. It attracts a varied crowd of in-the-know guests, all looking for a relaxed place to sip a perfectly mixed cocktail and nibble some delicious small snacks.
You’ll instantly exhale in the comforting embrace of the little bar’s relaxed interior and cosy side courtyard.
The bar is well stocked with everything you could need for a classic cocktail, top-shelf aperitif, or something new. To cool down with the perfect summertime sip, you could order a Watermelon and Toasted Almond Spritz, or even the refreshing Raspberry Gin and Celery Tonic.
1A Crossley St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Image: Romeo Lane
Those who know that west is best can get comfy on sunny afternoons at Benchwarmer. The friendly neighbourhood bar and bottle shop doubles as a low-key izakaya, serving up tasty teriyaki and other “things on sticks” to pair with all that cold draught beer.
Beer is naturally the star of the show here at Benchwarmer. You’ll see indie craft favourites on tap from locals La Sirene, Hop Nation, Molly Rose and many more breweries across Victoria and beyond. Plus, a local summer wine list complete with chilled and pet nat options to excite your taste buds and cool you down.
Away from the noise and skyscrapers of the city, and edged away from the Queen Vic market, Benchwarmer is a welcome urban escape to sit and enjoy the simple things with your best people. Or, if you’re in a hurry and forgot to stock up before a party, shop from Benchwarmer’s Square Online site to get your beer and wine delivered to your door.
345 Victoria Street
West Melbourne, VIC 3003
If you’re looking for classic cocktails, mixed to perfection but with none of the fuss that can accompany a city bar experience, you’ve come to the right place. Bar Americano just hit an impressive 10 years of trading, and is just as loved as ever.
There’s no seat at the bar at this standing-only joint, but plenty of space to indulge nonetheless. Down a little laneway in the very centre of the CBD, Bar Americano is located conveniently close for any city office worker. Over the past two years of stop-and-start business closures and navigating the challenges of hospitality through lockdowns, it’s time for Melbourne to once again embrace this small but mighty stalwart.
All the classics for the perfect aperitivo can be found at this hidden gem. On a warm summer evening before your dinner booking, you can’t go wrong with any of the house signature cocktails, like the zesty grapefruit Spritz Alternativa or a perfectly bitter amaro on ice.
20 Presgrave Pl
Melbourne VIC 3000
Image: Bar Americano
Audiophiles, rejoice. There’s a new-ish local spot that’s got you more than covered this summer. Just venture further north, off Lygon Street in Brunswick, to Waxflower – where great wine and music intersect for a sensory treat. Thoughtfully designed throughout, this ultra-cool local corner bar is made for enjoying three things: quality drinks, great music and good company.
You’ll find walls stacked to the ceiling with vinyl here, and a custom-built sound system that can do every record justice. On warmer evenings, you could sit at an outside table, taking in the tunes and watching the world go by.
For drinks, there is a smart selection of wine, with a focus on minimal intervention drops, both local and international. Plus, a rotating selection of six beers on tap that’ll hit the spot on a warm afternoon. Book in to secure a seat, and settle in for an acoustic adventure.
153 Weston Street
Brunswick VIC 3056
A southside surprise in Prahran, The Alps is less ski-lodge cosy and more cool local wine mecca. From the expert team behind The Moon and Milton Wine Bar, among other local wine bar favourites, the selection here is impeccably planned and served in a relaxed atmosphere you’ll love.
And yes, it’s a rather specific name for a little bar on Commercial Road. The Alps refers to the regional inspiration behind their list of over 400 wines. That would be the ring around the European Alps region that’s dotted with the very best old world vineyards including those in Burgundy, Alto Adige, Jura, Piedmont, Savoie and the Veneto, among others.
The selection is always changing, with special tasting events and other offers a regular feature at The Alps. If you’re feeling snacky, there’s also a delicious little bar menu to pair perfectly with your drop of choice. An antipasto platter or selection of cheeses will set you up for the ultimate wine enjoyment.
64 Commercial Road
Prahran VIC 3181
Image: The Alps
Rounding out our list of the best bar venues to visit this summer (and through into the year) we have the very special Mono-XO in Smith Street, Fitzroy. Mono-XO is intentionally small and intimate, making it the ideal place to spend a relaxed summer evening with a date or couple of close friends. It sits unassumingly on Smith Street – this year voted the coolest street in the world – and provides an experience that’s low on fuss and high on flavour.
Wine bottles adorn the warmly lit white brick walls at this little northside gem. Its minimal interior allows the food and drinks to be the star of the show while you take a break from the Collingwood buzz outside the door.
Mono-XO’s izakaya-style menu of smaller and larger plates brings fresh Japanese flavours to the fore. On the drinks list, it’s a concise and tasty list of natural-leaning wine and sake, plus a few select beers and seasonal cocktails.
Rear 19A Smith Street
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
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