Australia takes the bar scene to a new level, packing the cities with great places to take a break. Although almost pub will show you a great time, there are some decidedly standout places scattered around Melbourne. If you want a great drink, a fine view or a quirky atmosphere, the Aussies have a bar for you.
Happens all the time, right? You walk out of the movie, it’s late and you have to have noodles. And a daiquiri. In most cities you’d be out of luck, Melbourne’s got you covered with this nifty little noodle and cocktail bar on Swanston Street. The cocktails are imaginative and they have a comfortably sized menu for both light and hearty meals.
Styled to reflect the American prohibition era, but with the Aussie flair for fun, they actually use a drink recipe book that was written in 1917. The cocktails are far from archaic, however; they blend up something close to fantastic by using time-tested measurements and complexly flavored modern mixers. This isn’t a place to linger, sadly, as they have no tables and room for only 10 very close friends.
A dive bar at its finest, this place has some whacky decor and encourages a rough feel. They’ll even give you a knife to use carve a message into the bar. You’ll need to try the deep fried pickle and of course that is best served with a pickleback – a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. If that sounds out of your league, start with the ginger beer...that is made with gin and not beer.
Rooftop bars are the place to be in the summer and this one is right in the middle of the city. Food is served tapas-style and both your meal and beverage come with an awesome view of the city. Beer, wine, cider and cocktails – they have a nice selection of everything and even offer some ciders on tap.
Bomba Tapas Bar and Rooftop
There’s something about being in the fresh air that encourages light meals and the ones here are created with a Spanish flair. In addition to fun food events such as Suckling Pig Sundays, they have a wide selection of Spanish wines and are constantly updating their stock. You can also choose sherry, Madeira, port and liquors made in Spain.
Inspired by Melbourne’s first female crime-fiction writer, fans will love the drink names that echo the titles of her books. The food ranges from quick bites to sharable meals with a selection of cheeses to fill in any gaps. The decor is clean and classy – just the type of place you’d expect to see a detective winding down after a tough case.
Loch & Key
Sure you’ve been to a lot of tucked-away bars, but when was the last time you visited one that was hidden behind a bookcase? Three very private rooms comprise one of the coolest, most clandestine-feeling bars in the city that is secreted behind a wall in the oldest public house in Melbourne. Wine and cocktails are silently served by the close-lipped and very discreet staff, and no one but you will ever know what took place there.
It looks a little like a college cafeteria – until you pick up the drink menu and realize that the first 80 pages are just the wines. Just about any cocktail you might feel like trying, they can make for you. The curries are top-notch and go surprisingly well with a martini with a chilli twist. Finish off the evening with one or two of the over 200 beers they have and you are all set.
It will take a bit of effort to find this little bar around the corner from Tattersails Lane, and the confusing mix of eras and cultures will be disorienting at first, but one of those better-than-classic dogs will make everything ok. There’s no theme and no pretensions in this candlelit bar that serves Vietnamese snacks and some serious cocktails. Monday night bingo is a blast and the space becomes a dance floor on the weekends.
Originally a synagogue, the building has gone through a number of uses before settling in as one of the largest beer gardens in Melbourne. A 150 year old tree shades the diners and the street seems far away behind the iron bars that surround the garden. Burgers, breezes and beer – This has to be the perfect combination for an afternoon in sunny Australia.