The weather is getting colder, quickly. Right? Rooftop bars are less enticing and dark moody spaces that serve warming cocktails are topping your to-do list. But in a town like Melbourne it’s sometimes impossible to know where to go. We are spoilt for choice. So we’ve rounded up a list of cocktail bars we’re loving at the moment, old and new, so next time you need to pick a venue, you won’t be stuck for ideas.
One of the best venues in Melbourne for a tipple, this elegant bar is tucked into the second floor on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. This isn’t the kind of place where you stand around drinking brews. It’s an intimate space where you are allocated your own booth. Table service from some of the best bartenders in Melbourne will mean you’re more than looked after, and the small space means it’s perfect for quiet after dinner drinks. You’ll be able to get your hands on the classics here as well as the bartender’s choice which, after you tell them what you like and don’t like, will be more spot on that you’d ever think.
Upstairs, 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9416 2229
Black Pearl/The Attic
Somewhat of an institution on the bar scene, Black Pearl is a cosy laid back night spot on weeknight, but good luck getting a seat of weekends. This is when you’ll find yourself sliding past many fellow drinkers to get to the bar. It’s worth it though; these guys know how to make a concoction. Go classic with a margarita with black salt, or a martini on point, or try something a little more creative. If you want to get your drink on somewhere a little more secluded, head upstairs to The Attic where table service and cocktails really sing.
Black Pearl & The Attic
304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9417 9455
Eau de Vie
If you like cocktails and you haven’t been to Eau de Vie, you’re doing yourself a disservice. These guys are experts, with a killer cocktail book to match, which will help if you’re ever trying to impress your guests at home. With a whole page dedicated to the perfect martini, you know they mean business. You’ll also find a page of their favourites, tried and tested by many a cocktail drinker before you. The Aviator of gin, lemon juice, and house made rhubarb and juniper juice will put a kick in your step, while the Espresso Zabaione, think espresso martini topped with mousse that’s been freeze-dried with liquid nitrogen, is the perfect dessert and cocktail in one. They’ve also got more whisky that one could ever need.
Eau de Vie Melbourne
1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
0412 825 441
A relatively new player in the bar scene, Thomas Olive can be found above Saint Crispin on Smith Street. A lovely holding space if you’re heading to dinner downstairs, or a killer bar in its own right. Start simple with the Put The Ketel On, a mix of Earl Grey infused Ketel One Vodka, lemon, sugar, and egg whites, or for something with a bit more kick you can go for the Manhattan made with Bulleit Rye Whisky, Regal Rogue Sweet Vermouth, and orange bitters. Most classics are available upon request and the wine, beer, and spirits list means you can bring all your cocktail avoiding friends too.
Above Saint Crisping, 300 Smith Street Collingwood (upstairs)
(03) 9419 2202
Perfect for the cooler nights, this bar is all plush seating, moody lighting, and strong drinks. Since Fridays and Saturdays are pumping, table service means you might wait a little longer for your drink, but as you sink into your huge red couch, you’ll start caring less and less. The menu, which doubles as a cocktail book is broken down by era; go old school with the Old Fashioned of Makers Mark, gomme, Angostura Bitters, and orange bitters, or for something a little more recent like the Cosmopolitan. Carrie Bradshaw would be proud. You can also head downstairs to their weird and wonderful Alice in Wonderland inspired bar for crazy concoctions at The Understudy.
169 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
(03) 9663 7722
One for the northsiders, this cocktail bar feels more new world than old world with a stripped back interior. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a New York loft rather than a 1920s speakeasy. These guys like taking the classics and serving up something new. Their margarita is a salted caramel take on the Mexican staple, served with a house made shard of salted caramel, while their Old Fashioned is served smoked with applewood chips. They’ve also got a regular espresso martini for those who so desire. And did we mention they’ve also got a heated courtyard out the back.
129 Smith Street, Fitzroy
0499 977 553
The Noble Experiment & Aloha Sailor
Just like the name suggests The Noble Experiment takes inspiration from prohibition madness and drinking in the 1920s and who could blame them really? This space on Smith Street has had many faces over the years, but this one seems to be sticking. Probably due to the stiff drinks, serious whisky collection, and the eatables. Let’s talk cocktails. The ‘Outrageously Good Espresso Martini’ is made of Herradura extra anejo, spiced agave nectar, fresh espresso, and spiced vanilla tincture, while their ‘One Free Hour in a Candy Store’ is a sweet coma of Finlandia Mango, passionfruit liqueur, peach liqueur, sugar, lemon juice, egg white, and a passion fruit lollipop. They also make bottle and barrel-aged cocktails including their Negroni, which is bottle-aged Brokers gin, house blended and barrel aged sweet vermouth, and Campari. Clever clever people. Now you can also head downstairs to their new Tiki bar Aloha Sailor. Expect a lot of rum.
The Woods of Windsor
When you’re on the southside and want a cosy old world bar, look no further than The Woods of Windsor. The glamorous and plush space sends you back to the time of prohibition and secret conversations. Their spirits list may be a bit overwhelming, which is ok because their cocktail list can direct you to where you need to go. For something with real heat go for the Mad Margarita finished with a chilli-salt rim, or for something a little more warming and a little less burn-your-senses try the Bringin Cognac Back of Pierre Ferrand cognac, spiced maple syrup, and orange bitters. Goodbye rainy Melbourne.
The Woods of Windsor
108 Chapel Street, Windsor
(03) 9521 1900
Probably the smallest bar in Melbourne, it still has some of the best bartenders and best drinks you’ll find in our bar filled concrete jungle. With standing room for about 10 (and that would be super intimate), the focus is on the drinks and the banter. We’d avoid personal conversations as you sip your classics. They’ve only got limited space so can’t stock a lot of booze at once, the small rotating menu is filled with refined drinks, so don’t ask for a passionfruit martini. Let them take you on their journey, they know what they’re doing. You won’t regret it.
20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne VIC 3000