Every Melburnian has a local they’re loyal to, but we’re always looking for excellent new watering holes to frequent, whether they’re hidden underground or high in the sky. From classy basement cocktail bars and laneway hangouts to refined European wine bars, Melbourne’s never-ending late-night list is one that never disappoints. Next time you’re heading out for a cocktail (or two) take inspiration from one of these trendy hangouts. Here are our top picks for the month ahead.
This elegant new wine shop and bar is actually an addendum to boutique hotel Zagame’s House, but with an 280-strong list, food by an ex-Vue de Monde chef and an airy-luxe lounge, it’s becoming a destination all its own. You’ll find a strong preference for the local and sustainable here, with lots of organic wines from Victorian producers, pre-batched cocktails from The Everleigh and craft beers from local breweries. To eat, you can build your own cheese and charcuterie board, or opt for the kitchen’s refined take on bar food – think beef burgundy puffs, chermoula John Dory and the unmissable garlic- and thyme-infused baked camembert.
66 Lygon Street, Carlton
Bigger is better at Juke’s, a new ’70s and disco-themed karaoke bar from the people behind grown-up playgrounds Holey Moley and Archie Brothers. There are cocktails served in mirror balls, onion ring towers and giant pretzels to be enjoyed as you belt out all your favourite hits inside private karaoke rooms for up to 25 people. The decor’s straight out of an Austin Powers movie, full of kitschy patterns and rainbow glass.
Level 1, Metropol Precinct, Crown Melbourne, 1/8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
Bimbo’s back, baby. When fire ripped through the beloved Fitzroy disco-pub last year our hearts broke into a million pizza-shaped pieces, but luckily, Bimbo 2.0 is better than ever. The space has been modernised with the funk dialled up even further, with pink fibreglass booths, some seriously wild wall art, rainbow disco lights and even a DJ booth fitted into an old plane. Rest easy though. What hasn’t changed are the $4 pizza specials, infused vodkas and guaranteed good times. Long live Bimbo.
Corner Rose Street and Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Make a smart choice and visit Bad Decisions, a new neighbourhood bar from the folks behind hip-hop club Laundry Bar next door. The two-storey space has a dark, intimate feel replete with glowing neon signs, leather furniture and gold fixtures, while to drink there’s an eclectic mix of local craft beers alongside house cocktails categorised by “No Booze”, “Lil' Boozy” and “Boozy AF”. There’s everything from lemonade to punchy drinks like the Witching Hour, made with lychee liqueur, yellow Chartreuse, black Sambuca and anise.
46 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
In its previous life The Oxford Scholar was best known as a somewhat rough-around-the-edges (but always reliable) watering hole for CBD locals and RMIT students, but these days it’s a much more sleek affair. The historic pub has been given a sweeping makeover, reopening under new management after turning off its taps in 2017. You’ll now find a modern interior, new dining spaces and even a plant-filled courtyard for sunny days. It’s still a casual, budget-friendly affair, but with an added sheen on pub grub fare, with options like poke bowls, seafood souvlaki and Korean beef ribs sitting alongside your classic parmas and burgers.
427 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Photo Credit - Agostino
It’s been a long wait – over three years – for Agostino, the refined wine bar that’s sister to King & Godfree next door and Johnny’s Green Room upstairs. You’ll quickly see it’s been well worth it. They’ve kitted out the place like an upmarket version of the classic Italian enoteca, with wood and marble tabletops, a concrete terrazzo floor and neutral leather banquettes. And just like in Italy it’s an all-day affair, open from noon to late for cheffy, Northern-influenced dishes like maccheroni in vodka tomato cream and seafood brodetto followed by dainty semifreddos and millefoglie. To drink, you can pick up a bottle from the shop next door and bring it in for corkage, or take a punt on their 200-strong list of continent-hopping drops.
297 Lygon St, Carlton
Photo Credit - High Bar
Faithfully recreating the jazz bars of 1930s Manhattan, Windsor’s newest spot channels strong Great Gatsby vibes, from the art deco wallpapers and sparkling chandeliers to the plush velvet chairs and chrome detailing. With winter now upon us High Bar makes a strong play for Melbourne’s cosying needs, offering classic cocktails by candlelight and live cabaret and jazz on the weekends. They have a strong wine and spirits list too, accompanied by a bar menu of cheese, snacks and woodfired pizza.
67 Green St, Windsor
A distinct Victorian flavour characterises both the menu and drinks list at Southbank wine bar Edwin, where drops are sourced from the Yarra to Macedon, the Mornington Peninsula to Rutherglen and everywhere in between. Signature cocktails continue the local theme, incorporating native ingredients in tipples like pepperberry spritzes and their strawberry ‘gumlet’, while the menu comprises pared-back modern Australian shareplates that showcase produce, whether that’s in Port Phillip sardines on dark rye or lush, slow-cooked Gippsland lamb served with smoked labne and saltbush.
308-320 City Rd, Southbank
The eastern suburbs have scored themselves a neighbourhood cocktail bar in Budgie, where they’re mixing up next-level concoctions like espresso martinis topped with gingerbread cream, white chocolate piña coladas and tom kha margaritas. The warehouse conversion, which overlooks a classic car showroom, translates to a relaxed, spacious place to catch up with friends over pizza and antipasto, with regular live music and DJ sets on the cards.
1/166 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood
East End Wine Bar, Hawthorn East
The front half of the historic Young’s Auction House has been reincarnated into an inviting, modern wine bar and shop. The heritage building’s exposed brickwork remains, imbuing the place with a rustic edge, but now you’ll find new timber finishings, peppy graphic art on the walls and a courtyard with a retractable roof. They’re pouring wines from across the globe to share over charcuterie boards and stone fired pizzas. Best of all, if you like what you try, you can easily buy a bottle to take home.
225 Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn East
Those with an interest in more adventurous beer drinking should put Future Mountain high on their list. For drinks with a twist, they experiment with barrel ageing and mixed fermentation to create rousing American-style sours and yeasty farmhouse-inspired ales. At their sprawling warehouse brewery and taproom you can see the open fermentation room in action and sit among the barrels as you work your way through the taps. To eat, there’s a short but snappy selection of pies, sausage rolls and flatbreads from A1 bakery.
703-707 Plenty Rd, Reservoir
The CBD gets another spot for wine and cheese – because you can never have too many, right? Thataboy is pouring over 50 drops from across the new and old worlds, with even a few pocket-friendly bottles sneaking in under the $30 mark. Here, patrons also have the freedom of building their own cheese and charcuterie boards with anywhere from a single wedge to the ‘Thatabigboy’ board packed with salami, bresaola, prosciutto, roquefort, lingot and cheverano.
19 Katherine Pl, Melbourne
Bringing a little bit of the Mediterranean to Sandringham is Baia di Vino, who carry their ethos quite literally in their name’s meaning of “wine bay”. Banquette seating and wide front windows offer a sweeping vista of the ocean, while tiled floors and marble tops double up on the European feel. The appropriately seafood-tilting menu offers up fresh bites like fregola stuffed calamari and squid ink ravioli, which sing out to be paired with a crisp white from their globetrotting wine list.
1 Melrose St, Sandringham
A quick spin at Nasty’s will quickly reveal that it’s anything but – rather, this laidback dive bar is a prime new hangout spot for Thornbury’s locals. The slender, cosy bar is rife with personality thanks to owner Nick Matheson self-styled room of “upcycled” vintage finds, which include a chair made of old Saab seats and a table constructed from skateboards. Settle into one of their cosy rooms or out in the courtyard and make friend with their snappy but eclectic selection of spirits, beers and wine.
806 High St, Thornbury
Brought to you by a team of award-winning ex-Black Pearl bartenders, this cocktail slinging burger joint – they’ll be dishing out Mary’s cult burgers for the first two months – is one pop-up bar with serious pedigree. Serving technique-driven cocktails brimming with creativity, these guys aren’t afraid to experiment – say hello to fermentation and clarified milk – while fried chicken and loud music bolsters the bar’s good times cred.
381 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Boutique wine store Magnum + Queens is expanding their remit to include an in-house bar. With over a thousand wines to choose from, discover a diverse selection of rich, quality drops, spanning everything from French classics to new and edgy natural wines. With knowledgeable and friendly staff, it’s the perfect place to try before you buy, while enjoying bar snacks like tinned sardines on crostini, French cheese and spiced almonds.
2/274-278 Coventry St, South Melbourne
Generous views of the Yarra and a weekly-changing menu makes the name of this uber-classy wine bar a self-fulfilling prophecy. The wine list spotlights antipodean drops ranging from Mudgee shiraz to Macedon Chardonnay, while the Australian-European menu features dishes such as ricotta-filled zucchini flowers and pressed lamb shoulder in soubise and black truffle.
108 River Esplanade, Docklands
At 130 years, the Carringbush proves that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks, relaunching as a fresh new pub that’s all about sustainability. With new owners at the helm, they’ve created an entirely vegetarian and vegan menu that will satisfy even the biggest of meat lovers. Dig into the likes of smoked potato and eggplant dumplings, maple teriyaki tofu and spiced sweet-potato steaks. Waste reduction is a focus at the new Carringbush too, with metal straws and wines on tap offered.
226-228 Langridge Street, Abbotsford
Sitting somewhere between a dive bar and a disco diner, Globe Alley serves up craft beers, punchy cocktails and Southern food in a party-starting environment. Choose the heat level on your Bloody Caesar or wake up with The Escape, which blends Jamesons, cold drip, coffee liqueur and coconut. Nights here stretch out over long games of pool punctuated with rounds of buffalo fried chicken and jalapeno poppers.
1 Globe Alley, Melbourne
Keeping in check with recent trends, this intimate Albert Park wine bar leans towards minimal intervention, local wines from producers such as Patrick Sullivan and Ministry of Clouds. The kitchen serves artfully plated modern Australian cuisine and looks after vegans with a dedicated menu that features beetroot “pastrami” and barbecued cauliflower with hummus and bronzed fennel.
67 Cardigan Pl, Albert Park
Denton is a refined yet relaxed European wine bar that doesn’t fuss about. They’re doing simple food and interesting wines at reasonable prices, with bottles from local makers such as Jamsheed and Mac Forbes. To eat, there are just six dishes created from the day’s market produce – depending on when you time your visit, it could be salmon carpaccio, a black Russian tomato salad or juicy porterhouse steak.
1 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
This classy basement cocktail bar draws on fresh produce to create seasonal drinks with precise, vibrant flavour. The Fire & Earth’s stunning maroon colour comes from beetroot mixed with tequila, lemon and habanero bitters, while their sweet banoffee pie-inspired cocktail tops clarified banana juice, Starward whisky and demerara syrup with a caramelised meringue cap.
87 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Hurrah! Melbourne’s original laneway bar is reopening this March. Known for kickstarting the city’s love affair with tiny, tucked away venues, they’ve relocated to Crossley Street but retained much of their old look – from the stained-glass windows and concrete bar, right down to the retro shag pile carpet.
7/24 Crossley St Melbourne 3000
Hot summer days are just peachy atop Peaches, a new multi-storey bar that features a spacious rooftop for spritzing and sunsoaking. There are no dark and divey corners here, just lots of pinks, golds and suedes plus cocktails. Get the party started with ‘It’s Brittany Bish’, a blend of sloe gin, dry vermouth, basil and raspberries.
Levels 2 & 3, 301 Swanston Street, Melbourne
They’ve kept the bare bricks and exposed walls of the long running Young's Auction House that came before, but everything else here is new, starting with the modern Mediterranean menu and imaginative cocktails. Spy dishes like steamed portarlington mussels with barley, onion, dill and lemon, and colourful drinks like the Helena Beat, featuring tequila, beet, dragonfruit, thyme and lime.
227-229 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn East
Late night eatery Butcher’s Diner now has a sister bar next door for late-night shenanigans. Angel will serve food from their kitchen alongside classic cocktails and Italian wine. As the name suggests however, the focus here is on music, with an eclectic mix of jazz, soul and techno on soundtrack, DJs appearing after sunset and a mini dance club upstairs.
12 Bourke St, Melbourne
Camberwell scores an inviting new neighbourhood bar in St Giles. They boast a wine list that crisscrosses the old and new worlds, championing both local drops and pricey Burgundys, and a protein-rich menu specialising in steak and seafood. Start with delicate entrees like sea bream sashimi with miso and pickled shiitake before more substantial mains like slow cooked lamb and steak frites.
Shop 115A, 793 Burke Road, Camberwell
Seven months of renovations has resulted in a reborn Carringbush that sports warm wood finishes, a family friendly vibe and a shiny new kitchen and bar. The revamped menu is completely vegetarian, reimagining pub classics into dishes like sweet potato ‘steak’ with eggplant coconut puree and beer battered cauliflower with tartare and chips.
228 Langridge St, Abbotsford
Carlton’s got a sunsoaked new rooftop bar – sitting atop the King and Godfree complex, Johnny’s Green Room offers 360 degree vistas extending to the city and beyond. Tap into a little slice of Italy with imported beers, wine and Aperol spritzes on tap, plus snacks including polpetti, salumi, arancini and even choc tops from Pidapipo down the road. It’s our new favourite spot for Sunday sessions and after work drinks.
Level 2/293-297 Lygon St, Carlton
Richmond’s Great Britain Hotel has relaunched as Harlow, a new ‘good-times’ venue comprising a spacious, split-level courtyard and basement bar, with live music on weekends to boot. House cocktails include the ‘Boyz-N-The-Hood’, crafted with Jack Daniels, applejack, Fireball and apple juice, while pub classics are remixed in bites such as cheeseburger empanadas, duck and bacon sausage rolls and mini crab doughnuts.
447 Church St, Richmond
A one-stop shop for your next girls’ night out, The Greville has a restaurant, Champagne room and nightclub that’s open for dancing till late. There’s nothing lowkey about the glamourous new venue – everywhere you turn you’ll be faced with pink, emerald, marble, velvet and gold, while the menu does Japanese-Euro fusion, with Kobe beef carpaccio and kingfish sashimi accompanying summery cocktails.
132–134 Greville Street, Prahran
Electropop duo Peking Duk have opened their own bar, and yes, they’ll be dropping in regularly to DJ there. Their vision is for the venue to transition each night from chilled afternoon vibes to heaving disco party by the early morning, all under that photo-worthy glowing canopy of paper umbrellas. When all that dancing makes you peckish, snack on playful mashups like spam hotdogs with ketchup kimchi, cheeseburger spring rolls and vegan jackfruit bao.
153 Commercial Road, South Yarra
Transport yourself to Palm Springs via this pop-up bar on the rooftop of Melbourne Central, where you can take your drink to one of many temperature-controlled plunge pools. During the day there’s yoga, meditation and pilates classes to get you feeling wholesome, while in the evenings it’s all about indulgence, with cocktails and a snack menu designed by the people behind Easey’s – think club sandwiches, tacos and pizza.
Level 3, Melbourne Central, La Trobe St & Swanston St, Melbourne