The gig room housed within St Kilda's Prince Hotel is one of Melbourne's most dependable party spots, a nightclub-slash-concert venue that's equally at home hosting indie bands, international rock legends, EDM stars and hip hop up and comers. They've been getting loud and live for 75 years, with names like Lenny Kravitz, Jack Johnson and Bright Eyes making their way through the doors.
A neighbourhood wine bar and boutique bottle shop, Open Cellar invites all to browse their shelves for something special to either take away or enjoy then and there. A tidy list of wines by the glass helps those cautious about committing, while a compact offering of cheese, terrines and pates staves off peckishness. The unpretentious, timber-lined space also hosts regular live music and free tastings for those looking to expand their vinous repertoire.
A simple, unfussy place for fine wines and craft beers, Vino Central is a hybrid bar and bottle shop that allows you to browse their shelves and pick something to your liking. Settle in with a bottle and order takeaway from a nearby eatery for a relaxed meal, or simply drop in for a quick post-work bevvy. On Saturday nights, live music adds an extra dash of energy to the bar, which tends to fill up quickly towards the end ...
DrinkSt Kilda East
For those nights when all you want is a solid pot and parma, the Inkerman comes through with a thick, crunchy number generously sauced with Napoli, cheese and ham. While the menu is classic pub fare, there’s more to this local than beers and sport – there are also vintage arcade games, ping pong tables and live music to keep punters returning.
Equal parts classy and quirky, this inviting cocktail bar deals in classic cocktails given a fresh twist, with drams including smoked toffee margaritas and spiced pear sours on offer. In winter, Dutch hot toddies and mulled pineapple sunrises will warm you up from the inside, and in a surprising twist, in lieu of a bar food menu, they allow you to order delivery from anywhere you like, which they'll plate and serve to your table.
Ivanhoe's local watering hole is a trusty spot for a pint, parma and sport on the telly. However, that's not all this glossy multi-level venue offers. They've also got a cocktail bar shaking up fun, fruity concoctions and a bistro plating up hearty international fare. Regular live music and kids’ entertainment solidify the pub as a family-friendly locale.
Littlefoot is a local's bar with a ton of personality, communicated via an eclectic décor that includes neon lettering, lantern lighting and bold murals in the courtyard. There's always something happening, with weekly trivia nights and gigs bookending DJ sets on Fridays and Saturdays. To drink, you'll find mostly Australian brews and wines, while snacks absorb the multicultural vibe of Footscray in offerings ranging from empanadas to edamame.
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.
Everyone’s favourite north side music venue, Northcote Social Club sure knows how to throw a party. The go-to spot for some of Melbourne’s coolest gigs, this spacious venue also boasts one of the city’s best outdoor drinking areas. Whatever the event, you can be guaranteed that the craft beer will be flowing, the crowd will be on trend and the atmosphere will be unbeatable.
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.
Tucked away behind a carpark by the train tracks is local live music institution Howler, an old woolshed turned warehouse bar with trees and plants hanging from every corner. Out the back they play host to a lively lineup of indie, electronic and artsy acts while the front bar serves cocktails and craft beers.
When a bar is famous for its cheese toasties, it’s safe to guess that it’s going to have some character. Misery Guts is an independent neighbourhood hub, with an impressive drinks list, tasty bar snacks and live entertainment, topped with a laidback feel and a dry sense of humour.
Lydford & Co is Mentone's go-to spot for a good time. There's a buzzy beer garden out back, top shelf craft beers on tap, and a reason to be there any day of the week, be it for their Wednesday night social club, Thursday night trivia or DJs on the weekend. A serviceable wine list accompanies ritzy seasonal cocktails with movie-inspired names, while the bar snack menu provides instant gratification via tacos and burgers.
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.
Perched on Rucker’s Hill, darkly lit Joe’s is a cool little bar housed in what was once a shoe store. A cosy outdoor area draws crowds on a sunny afternoon, while the staff record collection keeps the part going late into the night. Whether you fancy a local beer or expertly mixed cocktail – there’s something for everyone.
Burgers, booze and bands – so goes the holy trinity of this grungy Lygon St local. You'll know you're approaching The B.East when you see crowded tables spilling onto the sidewalk and the sound of live music hitting your ears. Scoring a precious free table is a cue to order a round of burgers from their extensive menu, which includes four vegetarian and vegan options – this is Brunswick, after all.
A low-key party bar complete with weekly drink specials, The Vic sure knows how to draw a crowd. Nestled on bustling Victoria Street, you’ll often find revellers gathered around the DJ decks watching local favourites spin tunes late into the evening. With exposed brick walls, plenty of light, and a lengthy bar to sidle up against – fun is all but guaranteed.
A go-to for local sports lovers, the Palace Hotel is a classic Melbourne pub staying true to its roots. Home to regular community events and live entertainment, it’s main game is its bustling front bar and dining room, serving up all the favourites when it comes to brews and pub fare.
If you happen to hear the strains of a jazz tune winding its way down High Street, chances are it’s coming from Open Studio. A live music venue and creperie, this cosy little bar has long been a firm favourite with locals. And with everything from tap beer to cocktails and French crepes on offer; chances are it won’t stay hidden for long.
A grungy local hangout within a revived carpark, this container-made venue is home to live music sessions, craft beers and casual fare. Surrounded by eclectic décor, street art and super graphics, it’s a place to relax and enjoy a drink, with street food in hand from one of their guest food trucks.
Affectionately known as ‘The Wick’, this iconic hotel has been gracing the Elsternwick community with its presence since 1854. A hot spot for live local music and game-day broadcasts, The Elsternwick Hotel serves up hearty pub classics, with their huge menu catering for carnivores, the health-conscious and the little ones.
With its alluring charm and intimate atmosphere, this family-owned wine bar has secured itself as a local institution within the Albert Park community. An authentic French bistro, the menu at Lina's Bistro a Vin's is filled with rich classics, accompanied by an impressive wine list and the occasional live jazz session.
These guys live for food, wine and music. Operating since 1989, this local institution is all about creating a bustling social house for everyone (and their dog!). With regular live music and weekly specials, Dogs Bar serves up contemporary plates paired with an extensive beverage list, with their menu even offering a refreshing brew for four-legged friends.
Jam-packed with character, Claypots is a longstanding St Kilda favourite that ticks all the boxes. Famous for their namesake dish ‘Claypots’, this eccentric seafood eatery is highly renowned for their hard to beat fresh seafood, vibrant social vibes and live jazz sessions.