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Melbourne’s Best Bars

Melbournians are justifiably proud of their bar culture and thirsty citizens are never short of a place to drink. We noticed the city is becoming grungier in its dining habits, but drinking seems to have gone upmarket. Here are our top 10 picks for Melbourne bars, be they the high-glam, low brow or secret laneway variety.

The Everleigh

The Everleigh

EDV. 1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne.

This cocktail bar with a whisky focus is hidden, fittingly, in a lane called Malthouse. EDV’s penchant for cocktails is balanced by its masculine decor; think jazz tunes, leather and polished mahogany. Bring your friends for a cocktail degustation dinner, a brave new territory where a five course food extravaganza meets and greets the very best of booze.

Izakaya Den. Basement  114 Russel Street, Melbourne
Notoriously difficult to find, descending into Izakaya Den can fill the uninitiated with nervous excitement , but never fear, what you’ll find here are friendly faces and a space devoted in equal parts to the art of Japanese eating and drinking. Note the performance art that goes on behind the open kitchen and bar, with the chefs and mixologists dancing around each other. Obviously, all drinks have a Japanese bent, from sake to imported beers, but the range is wide and there is something for all tastes.

The Everleigh. 1/150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

The Everleigh’s location, hidden so that only those looking for it will notice it, says a lot about its character. It’s a proper American-style cocktail bar of old, when drinks were bespoke and each glass was treated with courtesy. Candlelight glints off vintage chandeliers, well heeled patrons slide into mahogany booths and the air is filled with smooth jazz tunes that make you feel like you’re drinking in a golden age.

The Black Pearl. 304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Cocktail powerhouse The Black Pearl is the place to visit if you’re looking for a classy bar where you can drink posh without having to maintain a ramrod-straight spine. Downstairs, drink beer or whisky from vintage ‘70s tankards. Upstairs, in The Attic, maroon-shirted waiters serve exciting cocktails in crystal cut Royal Doulton glassware. Table service makes The Black Pearl personalised and civilised, but on the weekends, the bar is swamped three-persons deep with patrons determined to have a knees-up good time, whatever their poison.

Kodiak Club. 272 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

If you’re going to name a bar after a 500kg native American bear, you might as well have one represent. And the Kodiak Club does. Melbourne’s only bourbon bar is dominated by a wall-mounted Kodiak that watches over its patrons as they dig into all-American bar food. The space is warm and welcoming, much like a mountain lodge in a blizzard, and the bar is dominated by bourbon and rye whiskies, with a smattering of quality wines, beers and cocktails, plus some trashy Mexican beers for good measure.

The Kodiak Club

The Kodiak Club

Cookie. First Floor, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Any bar that describes itself as a “disco eating house and beer hall” is bound to make its patrons happy. Cookie somehow manages to fuse beer hall, cocktail bar and modern Thai restaurant with flair. The bar stocks a plethora of micro-brews and 350 different wines, plus, a hidden corner bar pours an endless stream of innovative cocktails. Cookie is smack-bang in the middle of the city, but transports you to a cooler plane, with its pastiche of French doors, Juliet balconies and manga inspired murals.

Red Spice Road QV. QV Melbourne, 31-37 Artemis Lane, Melbourne CBD.

Overlooking the hustle and bustle of Lonsdale Street, Red Spice Road QV may be more of a restaurant, but it does a cracking martini.  Sweet, sour or short, the cocktail menu is well-researched and the perfect side to the spicy cuisine of South East Asia. Take up a seat at one of their communal tables and enjoy a Red Spice mojito jugtail, the perfect complement to one of the restaurant’s banquet menus (either $60 or $75; with vegetarian options available).

Red Spice Road QV

Red Spice Road QV

Lily Blacks. 12 Meyers Place, Melbourne.

Lily Blacks is a high end gin joint and cocktail connoisseur’s dream that’s open till 3.00am, every night of the week.  The decor gives a little nod to the 1920s speakeasy, with its potted palms, a wooden bar and doilies under the ashtrays. Lily Blacks takes a sophisticated approach to booze – the classics are served with a twist and assembled using the freshest ingredients and a flair for drama. There is a generous list of wines by the glass and for drinkers who prefer a simpler brew, there are numerous beers and ciders on tap. We recommend lining your stomach with Lily’s bar snacks, like charcuteries and cheese platters, olives and brandy-soaked prunes.

Rooftop Bar. Level 7, Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Curtin House. Seven floors up. There’s a bar on the rooftop. What more is there to say? This venue is unquestionably one of the best for an open-air drink that’s as good as the view. In summer, opening hours are extended, burgers, wraps and ice cream sandwiches are on the menu and you can pull up a deck chair and catch a movie. Don’t despair the winter months, that’s when the Rooftop Bar’s relationship with MissChu bears fruit – in the form of rice paper rolls and other Vietnamese goodies, that is.

The Waiting Room. Lobby, Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank.

The Crown Towers lobby plays host to The Waiting Room, with its glamorous low lighting and mirrored jewel box interior. The bar has revived the sophisticated art of mixology, with cool cocktails, classic martinis and premium champagne the order of the day. Of course, the drinks have to share the limelight with Neil Perry’s impressive array of bar snacks and light meals.

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Melbourne Private Dining Rooms

Got a special occasion coming up? Looking for a private dining room? Here’s our pick of Melbourne’s most glamorous and elegant private dining rooms.

About: Positioned at St Kilda’s sea end, Sapore restaurant offers a stunning view, fine Italian food at fair prices, and boasts an elegant and warm interior created by impressive light installations.

Holds: 18

About: Located 35 floors above the Paris end of Collins Street in the Sofitel Melbourne, No 35 is an elegant restaurant where rich timbers, vibrant tones, contemporary artworks and a world-class contemporary European menu preside over commanding views of Melbourne.

Holds: 16

About: A destination restaurant with a swag of culinary awards to boot, Taxi Dining Room offers the complete culinary experience in the heart of Melbourne’s arts district with Modern Australian cuisine that takes all the best cues from Asian and European flavours.

Holds: 40

About: Comme Kitchen is a fine  example of what Melbourne does so well: a wonderful laneway building housing a fine contemporary restaurant. Its elegant 19th century frame remains intact with high ceilings, a grand staircase and the smell of history lingering in the air.

Holds: Up to 50 people

About: Housed within a historic woolshed, in the centre of the city, Bluestone Restaurant Bar is one of Melbourne’s most established venues. A favourite for corporate entertaining and special events, Bluestone boasts a gorgeous dining room upstairs and a chic lounge downstairs that has become a coveted locale for tapas, wood-fired pizza’s and after work designer cocktails in a relaxed eclectic environment.

Holds: Up to 33

About:

Located in the heart of Melbourne, The Italian offers a sophisticated and suave dining experience. Complete with dark wooden floorboards, red leather booths and a sophisticated marble bar, The Italian is ideal for an intimate dinner party.

Holds: 30

About: Cho Gao’s interior is rich and modern, decorated with worn recycled Asian furniture and inspired by nature’s elements – earth, air, water and fire. Here you can discover the robust flavours of East Asian cuisine from Vietnam to Indonesia, and experience the best ofAsian streetculture. The dynamic, raw setting is perfect for dinner with friends or simply call in for a casual beer after work.

Holds: Up to 55

About: Dining on a grand scale is accomplished with ease at the Park Hyatt Melbourne’s Radii restaurant which spreads art deco-inspired decor and modern Australian cuisine over several spectacular levels.

Holds: 14

About: At the base of the Adelphi Hotel, Ezard is one of Melbourne’s best restaurants – refined and understated, with exciting Asian-influenced food.

Holds: 14

About: Melbourne hotspot Red Spice Road is unimpeachably stunning, and offers a unique communal sharing dining experience with a twist of Asian cuisine. This restaurant offers an open courtyard and a fabulous, large dining room.

Holds: 60

About: The Willows boast spectacular façade and timeless interior coupling modern minimalism & elegance in a distinctive, yet refreshing way. With restaurant, conservatory, courtyard, dance floor, grand architecture, high ceilings & granite topped bar The Willows can accommodate an intimate groups or large scale celebrations.

Holds: Up to 150

About: Circa, the Prince has been one of Melbourne’s leading drinking and dining destinations for decades. Under Head Chef Jake Nicolson, the menu is a salute to Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Holds: up to 120

About: After the huge success of Rockpool Sydney we are treated to Rockpool Bar and Grill, a slightly more relaxed take on its sibling, which fuses the Rockpool ethos with a classic North American steakhouse. This Southbank restaurant elevates the steakhouse concept.

Holds: Up to 50

About: Experience the fine art of authentic Cantonese cuisine at Silks amid a striking interior located in the Crown Entertainment Complex. With world-class chefs, this Southbank restaurant takes fine dining to a new, luxurious level.

Holds: Up to 20

About: An old Fitzroy building turned into a restaurant with a contemporary approach, Cutler and Co is the latest venture by chef Andrew McConnell. The dining room features stripped-brick walls, timber floors and high ceilings with clever flounced lights that add a touch of whimsy to the space.

Holds: 32

About: Melbourne’s very own Spice Temple is a celebration of fiery Chinese cuisine and Chinese culture that Australians embrace so excitedly. Living up to its name, Spice Temple serves traditional seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes with the added kick of vibrant chilli flavours. Rich gold, red and black hues engulf diners to create an unparalleled sensory experience.

Holds: 70

About: “Quaff” is to eat and drink something heartily, which is just what this Toorak restaurant is encouraging with their European inspired menu and extensive wine list. A favourite with the locals who sit street side taking in the village ambience or opt to sit indoors in the elegantly renovated dining room with dark wood panelling, soft plush chairs and crisp linen.

Holds: Up to 60

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