The thing about Melbourne is that cool things tend to be hidden. And that is particularly true of the best bars in Melbourne.
Maybe the implication is that if you’re not cool enough to know where the trendy stuff, is then you’re not cool enough to go there.
Alternatively, maybe it’s just because Melbourne nightlife all happens in the city’s famous laneways. These small lanes cut between the broad thoroughfares of the Melbourne Central Business District and boast fabulous street art, graffiti, and bars. They are what makes Melbourne my favourite city in Australia. Don’t miss these six bars in Melbourne’s laneways and other hidden areas.
Down laneways is where you’ll find bars like Manchuria. The sign for this Melbourne bar is barely visible up a dark alley. Go to Waratah Place off Little Bourke Street, 10 metres from the corner of Russell Street, and you’ll see three red letters above a nondescript door. Open the door, and you’ll find yourself in a groovy, opium den-style bar where the cocktails are high class and the atmosphere is convivial.
Market Lane Bar
Despite being part of the glamorous InterContinental Rialto hotel on Collins Street, the Market Lane Bar keeps up with Melbourne tradition by hiding away in an alcove like a carefully guarded secret. This sophisticated bar has one of the best whiskey menus in Melbourne.
At the smallest bar in Melbourne and the whole of Australia, I’ll have a Negroni with hand-shaved ice, prepared with love and conversation. Bar Americano is hidden away on Presgrave Place, and it’s the perfect place for an aperitif or a nightcap. It’s standing room only for approximately 10 patrons, and the amazing mixologists wear traditional garb. Look for the tiny Trink Tank window gallery outside, as the 20cm by 30cm space hosts regularly changing creative exhibitions.
Ponyfish Island is my favourite place for an afternoon beverage on a sunny day in Melbourne. It’s a bar built around one of the piles of the bridge over the Yarra River. It’s surrounded by water and boasts lovely views up- and downriver. The bar does a nice line of smashed avocado and a small range of microbrews.
Movida Next Door
My taste buds are tingling just thinking about this well-known bar in Melbourne. Movida Next Door is next to the city’s best tapas restaurant at the bottom of Hoosier Lane, just across from Federation Square. It serves a menu of delicious sardinas, jamón ibérico, and mejillones at the bar and high tables. I’ve had the best red wine outside a Barossa vineyard here. Arrive early if you don’t want to wait.
Another bar going for a traditional vibe is The Everleigh in Fitzroy, a fashionable district to the north of the main city. Bartenders wear 1920s speakeasy-style clothing, and the drink menu is outstanding. I’m not just recommending it because my cousin used to work there. This is a quality bar and has won a number of awards to prove its status.
Melbourne has so many wonderful bars and restaurants. Enjoy discovering these favourites of mine when you travel to Melbourne.
By Natasha von Geldern
What are your favourite bars in Melbourne?
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