Best secret bars in Melbourne: 21 hidden and stealthy venues
29.04.2022

Best secret bars in Melbourne: 21 hidden and stealthy venues

hidden bars and secret bars in Melbourne
WORDS BY BEN LAMB AND JAMES DI FABRIZIO

The master list of Melbourne’s best hidden bars and secret bars, including venues behind bookshelves and through fridge doors, to enjoy cocktails, wine, beers and fine dining.

This city’s nightlife has never a stranger to getting a little bit weird, a little bit wacky and a little bit wonderful, and this hugely comprehensive list of Melbourne’s best hidden bars and secret bars is constantly being updated with new and emerging spots that find cool ways to go about their business. This is just one of the many lists we have celebrating venues like these, we’ve also previously covered venues where you can get yelled at, a spot (that’s now closed) where you can eat naked, or even a space that lets you eat in the dark.

Today we’re diving into some of the coolest bars across out state that have a cool little hidden element about them, it could be a secret bar that you’ll need to find down an alley, a deceptive façade that’ll confuse you, or even an escape room style spot that requires a few tasks and games to enter.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here. You can also check out Melbourne’s most comprehensive guides to the best bars and pubs in each suburb and street here.

Yarra Falls

 

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– Address: 387 Flinders Lane
– Vibe: Botanical beautiful
– Dedicated Menu: Victorian produce

Yarra Falls is the new 25-seat bar and diner hidden within Flinders Lane’s heritage-listed Tavistock House. There’s a strong focus on offering local produce and the venue is most renowned for a stunning water feature – an indoor waterfall, no less – located behind the bar that acts as a tribute to the long-lost waterfall that once cascaded from the Yarra. The natural wonder was demolished in the 1800s to prevent flooding while Melbourne’s urban sprawl was rapidly attempting to meet the infrastructure needs of the gold-rush.

Berlin Hidden Bar

 

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– Address: Level 2/16 Corrs Lane
– Vibe: Hidden Gem
– Dedicated Menu: Fancy original Cocktails

Inspired by the famed city that was once divided by an iron wall, separating the capitalist bloc and the communist bloc – Berlin Bar is equal parts utilitarian and opulent. Once you’ve found the front door of Corrs Lane’s contribution to Melbourne’s hidden bars scene, you’ll need to ring the doorbell to gain admittance to the stow-away first floor.

There are a couple of sections to the amazing Berlin Bar, the capitalist side and the communist side, each offering a different vibe to patrons, with alternate seating options and artwork surrounding the spaces. But it’s important to note, while you’re inside, you’ll feel right at home, with laid back table service and a chilled vibe, it’s quickly evident that it’s a spot you’ll never want to leave. The interior is laced with a combination of repurposed grenade crates and luxurious leather booths, topping of the chilled yet fancy vibe.

East meets West on the cocktail list too, serving up a range of eclectic brews for all types of alcohol fans. Their cocktail list is jam-packed with original drinks named after people of note during the history of Berlin, these include the Arkady Shevchenko, a cocktail that contains egg white, gin and lime, or even the John Le Carre, featuring ingredients like the fancy Glenlivet 12 and white chocolate.

Above Board

– Address: Level 1/306 Smith St Chopper Lane, Collingwood
– Vibe: Fancy and intimate
– Dedicated Menu: Original cocktails

This spot is definitely among our favourite hidden bars, with a pretty fancy vibe to match. The brainchild of popular bartender Hayden Lambert, who has a repertoire to wonder at. You can head to Above Board, have a chat with him, and get to enjoy a cocktail for your liking. He’s even named a bunch of drinks after his family, previous employers, friends and family too.

Above Board is pretty small inside, but it doesn’t need to be too big – with around 16 seats, you know you’ll be getting A+ service. Due to their small interior, they don’t take bookings, so make sure you get there early, you can head down there from around 6pm most days and enjoy what makes Above Board special.

But if you’re not down for a jaunt down to Chopper Lane, you can order some of the award-winning Above Board cocktails from home, here. You can order drinks like a KFC, which features Midori and Fernet, The Benefactor which has Islay Whiskey and Pineapple Rum, or even a Tangy Boi, which has Aged Rum and lemon juice.

Madame Brussels

 

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– Address: 3/59 Bourke St
– Vibe: Laid back
– Dedicated Menu: Bar food and drinks

If you’re keen to get a little bit weird and wonderful with a place that is straight out of a storybook, Madame Brussels is for you. The Alice in Wonderland style interior will transport you to another place. To get up to their beautiful but secret rooftop bar, you’ll need to hop into an unmarked lift which will move you up and deliver you into the Madame Brussels experience.

While you’re there, you can grab one of their many amazing drinks, they’ve got some fancy wines from all the best corners of the world, some cool and quirky beers that you’ve probably never heard of before, and some cocktails to marvel at, one called the Blind Jimmy, featuring some whisky and soda, or if you’re wanting a more standard fare, look no further than their mouth-watering Margaritas or Negroni’s. Check out what else they’ve got to offer on the drinks side here.

On the food side, following on the old school storybook vibes, you can grab some pretty fancy nibbles and finger food, there’s things like Chicken liver pate, ratatouille toasties, or even a trio of macarons for those sweet tooths in your group. If you want something a little more fancy, their charcuterie platter is the choice for you, you can grab some fancy cheeses from areas as far as holland, or even some high-quality cold meats. Check out the menu here.

Lay Low Hidden Bar

– Address: 93 Buckley St, Seddon
– Vibe: All in one
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails and Greek food

One of Melbourne’s hidden bars set among a trendy clothes shop is the Lay Low bar, one of Seddon’s coolest secret gems. When you head in, it’s a little bit tight, but once you make your way into the bar, you’ll be shocked at how spacious it is.

When you’re there, you can immerse yourself into their beverage world and enjoy all types of drinks, there’s bound to be something that’s up your alley. Many of their cocktails come from fresh local produce, and are all made in house, so you know you’ll be getting quality.

But if the worms are biting, their food offerings are something to marvel at, next door to Lay Low you’ve got The Brotherhood, and they’ve got a partnership, so you can grab some grub. They bring some quality food to you in the bar, things like Meze platters, wraps, souvs and even a Nutella pide.

Lay Low even allows you to bring the best of secret bar life to home, in case one of your usual bar bunch group are in iso, you can enjoy things at home with their popular virtual cocktail parties. You can choose a pack, and enjoy them over zoom for the night, and journey back to 2020. Check out more info on their virtual cocktail parties here.

Things don’t stop at the Lay Low Bar, if you’re keen to get a bit more educated in the world of sprits, this spot can help you out, with regular classes and tastings of whisky, gin, scotch and even moonshine! Check out their classes here.

Fall from Grace

 

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– Address: 27 King St. Formerly 477 Collins Street, CBD.
– Vibe: VIP
– Dedicated Menu: Drinks and finger food

It’s not often you get to visit one of Melbourne’s hidden bars that’s actually placed inside a normal bar, but Melbourne’s never been a city to stick to the norm when it comes to cool and trendy ways to get out and enjoy the nightlife.

Nestled away within the popular State of Grace joint is where you’ll find the amazing hidden Fall from Grace. The entry to Fall from Grace is straight out of a Harry Potter book. Which is fitting, because to find it you’ll need to pull a secret book off a shelf to unlock a revolving door that will lead you into its hazy underbelly. Trust me, there is no better way to make an entrance than through a revolving bookshelf, you’ll feel like you’re a VIP for the night.  Follow the winding marble staircase to unveil a den of old-world vibes and experimental cocktails, it’s truly like travelling to Hogwarts.

Once you’ve actually found Fall from Grace, there’s some cool food items on offer, like a grazing menu which features things like Olives, nuts, croquettes, and even a plate of curds and whey. Truly making sure they are covering all bases. On top of that, they’ve got every type of wine under the sun, and even some fancy beers, like the adored maku hemp session ale and the always popular Balter XPA. Check out their full menu here.

Jungle Boy

– Address: 96 Chapel Street, Windsor
– Vibe: Like your own VIP island
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails

Let me set the scene. It’s late at night, everything is winding up, but you’re still a little peckish, so you’ve dropped into Boston Sub for a quick meatball sandwich. You have a quick glance around the small room and notice the faint sound of music coming from behind the cool room door.

Only it’s not the cool room door – it’s a literal gateway to tropicana paradise where tiki culture reigns supreme and the booze is flowing. Congratulations, you’ve made it to one of southside’s favourite secret hidden bars, Jungle Boy.

Once inside, you’re transported to the forest with trees and jungle vibes, and drinks are even served in tiki mugs, keeping Jungle Boy true to its name. There’re some cool classic drinks on offer to enjoy in these mugs too – like an Old Fashioned, Daiquiris and even a Singapore Sling.

Jungle Boy even has killer function capabilities, so you can hold those many parties you missed out on during lockdown. It’s definitely a spot that’s worth your time.

Bartronica

 

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– Address: Basement / 335 Flinders Lane
– Vibe: Stepping into the future
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails and drinks

If nothing floats your boat so far, Bartronica is bound to be up your alley. It is a cool futuristic style spot, jam packed with enough video games to keep you occupied for hours. To get into this spot, you’ll need to enter through a door down an alley, which leads to a stunning stairwell, then you’ll be in awe at the view when you make your way in.

The games will take you back to the 80’s, with 20c games, racing simulators, and a heap of amazing tabletop and console games. On top of that, there’s a heap of amazing 80’s inspired drinks, taking influence from hit pop culture moments and movies of the time.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, there’s a heap to do while you’re in Bartronica, there’s games, beers, wines, food and even cocktails. Dive into more of the world behind Bartronica here.

Bar Americano / Bar Sabbatico

 

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– Address: 20 Presgrave Place
– Vibe: Classic
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails

Bar Americano is one of the most hidden spots on this list, their website even being secretive. Located on Presgrave Place, the bar is signified by a blue sign that may be easy to miss. Make sure you head there with a smaller group, as it’s reportedly one of Melbourne’s smallest bars, with only capacity for around 10 patrons. The team at Bar Americano take inspiration for their drinks from a 1922 book called Cocktails and How to Mix Them, focusing on an ever changing roster, so there’s always something new and interesting to dive into.

There’s currently a new bar at this space, called Bar Sabbatico, where they’re trying some new and crazy drinks, getting people in and trying new things, the team wanting to reinvigorate the Melbourne nightlife.

On the drinks side, according to their website, they are home to the world’s best Negroni, so you better head there and see what it’s all about. Check out some more info about Bar Americano here.

Ponyfish Island

 

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– Address: Evan Walker Bridge
– Vibe: Floating bar
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails

This one isn’t out of sight, rather a hidden gem that you wish you’d heard of earlier. Located under the Evan Walker Bridge, Ponyfish Island is a floating bar that will make you feel pretty fancy. They’ve got all types of cool things on offer, there’s cocktails, bar snacks, and perhaps best of all, views of the beautiful Yarra.

They’ve got some mouth watering fare, Pizzas, cheeseboards, cocktails, wine, and beer, there’s really something for everyone at Ponyfish Island.

Eau De Vie

 

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– Address: 1 Malthouse Lane
– Vibe: Intimate
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails and upper class food           

The only signifier to let you know Eau De Vie is near is the dull glow of an old streetlamp, affixed upon the top of one of Melbourne’s grandest hidden bars – just teetering on conspicuousness. It’s sorta like the meeting point straight out of an old school spy novel.

Stepping inside is like walking into time machine, straight back to somewhere between the ’20s and ’50s. The only thing that’s smoother and flows more than the rickety jazz music is the alcohol, with a collection of over 700 spirits. Winner of Australia’s Best Bar Team, Best Cocktail List and Best Bartender, Eau De Vie has to be seen to be believed.

If you get a little peckish, there’s some upper-class grub ready for you to chow down on, perfectly ready to pair with your aperitif. On top of that, if you find a beverage up your alley, you can learn how to make it yourself with their popular virtual masterclasses. Besides that, you can also dive into the world of whisky with a masterclass. Check out more info here.

Goldilocks Hidden Bar

– Address: Level 5, 264 Swanston St
– Vibe: Fancy and intimate
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails

You wouldn’t always expect to find one of Melbourne’s first-class hidden bars stacked on top of a Noodle Kingdom, but then again – this is Melbourne we’re talking about. We thrive off it. Venture up the stairs to discover Goldilocks, a lighthearted haven that feels a world away from the nightlife of Swanston Street.

The drinks list is capped to six rotating, seasonal cocktails while adventurous flavour matching can be chosen that brings together fruit and vegetables. The Goldilocks team mash the old with the new, these are drinks you’ve probably never tried before, but will quickly become your new favourites.  Some of the coolest include the Baby Bear cocktail, which melds together gin with aloe vera, or the Too Cold, which features a watermelon icy pole with vodka.

Like all good food and drink purveyors, the Goldilocks aren’t afraid to get a little out there with their menu, with a section on it called “weird and wonderful” which features bevs like a guava session ale, and even an oat cream IPA made right on our doorstep in Cheltenham.

Rounded out with a cottage theme, the whimsical menu features some great tapas that match perfectly with your drink, things like fries, wantons, and dumplings. Dive into their menus and lots more here.  

New Gold Mountain

 

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– Address: Level 1/21 Liverpool St
– Vibe: Asian Inspired
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails, spirits and bar food

New Gold Mountain brings inspiration from a few cool places and mixes them into one with New Gold Mountain. To find New Gold Mountain, you’ll need to head to a bike, a door with 21 on it, and then journey up a flight of stairs that’ll take you to the bar.

When you’re up there, you’ll be blown away at the array of drinks they’ve got on offer, there’s a heap of freshly made drinks on offer, you can grab some Aussie inspired drinks like the Gumnut Baby, which has Lemon Myrtle vodka, the Lilly Pilly, which has Lilly Pilly Gin, and a whole heap more that you can dive into here.

You can book in and check out some info about New Gold Mountain here.

Hell’s Kitchen

– Address: 20A Centre Place
– Vibe: Trendy and very Melbourne
– Dedicated Menu: Quick Eats

No, it’s not Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, but a cool hidden spot that has been lighting up Melbourne’s nightlife for years. You can find the spot by it’s small sign, make your way up the stairs and you’ll be in the Kitchen. It’s probably one of the only locations on this list that also has coffee on offer. It’s been a staple of the scene for around 21 years now, dedicated to slinging great drinks and spreading good vibes.

On the food side, you can grab things like pizzas, or even a mushroom burger if you’re feeling extra fancy. Check out what other food they’ve got here.

On the drinks end of things, there’s wines, heaps of beers, and a bunch of cocktails, like an Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sours, Negronis, and even Bloody Mary’s. Check out more info about their drinks menu here.

Loch and Key

 

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– Address: 34 Franklin St
– Vibe: Fancy and intimate
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails

Loch and Key is one of those spots that isn’t really one of our hidden bars, but rather is a façade that hides a bunch of cool and interesting things. They call themselves a “home away from home”, and when you walk through the door, it’s immediately clear why, with laid back dressings and classic tables.

Open until 5am on weekends, Loch and Key is perfect for a bleary-eyed nightcap. An outdoor beer garden overlooks the city street, while a backroom features private booths so you can realise you’ve got absolutely nothing in common with that person you’re on a second date with.

Never mind though, take your mind off it with their bespoke beverage list featuring all your favourites and some new things to try, paired with drinks created to your own personal taste.

Bar Margaux

 

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– Address: Basement/111 Lonsdale St
– Vibe: International
– Dedicated Menu: French inspired

Bon Voyage!, no not really, there’s still a fair few bars on this list, that’s just the only French phrase I know. Head down the stairs to the secret underground lair that is Bar Margaux, and you’ll be surprised you’re not smelling baguettes and can’t see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

Bar Margaux brings an indescribable taste of France to Melbourne, with a bunch of cool food, drinks and vibes ready for you to dive into. There are food items that’ll make your mouth water, like Carpaccio de Langue de Boeuf, which translates to beef tongue, saffron aioli, vegetables, and a Rillette de Salmon Fumée, which translates to smoked salmon, crème fraiche, and Roe.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, on the drinks side, there’s some cool French inspired cocktails, like a Petit Martini, or Petit Boulevardier, and some fancy french wine too, a NV Taittinger ‘Cuvée Prestige’ from the Reims region in France, one of the most popular regions in the world. Dive into more about Bar Margaux over on their website here.

Beneath Driver Lane

– Address: 3 Driver Lane
– Vibe: Blues bar
– Dedicated Menu: Fresh cocktails

Down for something a little fancy? Beneath Driver Lane is a cool hidden bar spot that’ll soon be a staple of your bar scene. If you’re down for some cocktails, blues music and good vibes, head to this spot.

Hidden away inside an old bank vault, Beneath Driver Lane brings the best of Melbourne to the bar scene. You can drink all your favourites like Old Fashioned’s, made with fresh ingredients that’ll make your mouth water.

Topping off the good vibes is the amazing staff at Beneath Driver Lane, they’ll make you feel like you’re at home with their recommendations, smiles and friendly service. Some of the mixologists even take it that little bit further and provide it in a bit of a fancy glass too.

If you’re the drinker that needs some food with your beverage, Beneath Driver Lane can help you out, with some killer snacks, there’s mouth-watering grub like roasted heirloom beetroots, to morcilla sausage rolls. Dive into more about Beneath Driver Lane here.

East of Everything

 

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– Address: 3/72 Auburn Parade, Camberwell
– Vibe: Laid back
– Dedicated Menu: Finger food and drinks

If you’re not keen to venture deep into the nooks and crannies of the city to go on a secret bar visit, this spot is for you. Found in Camberwell, East of Everything is another deceptive façade that hides so many amazing things.

They’ve got 12 rotating beers on their taps, often from local brewers, and they sometimes change, but in the past, have featured drinks like Fixation, Mr Banks, Akasha, Bodriggy, Kaiju, and a whole heap more that you can dive into over on their website here. They keep an ever-changing roster of what’s on tap on their untappd account, currently featuring beers from Mountain Goat to a Blackman’s Cherry sour.

On the food side, they’ve got all the foods you love, things like loaded fries with pulled pork, onion rings, and even some croquettes. Or if you’re keen for something a little more substantial, they’ve got a range of burgers that’ll make your mouth water. To name a few, there’s the classic cheeseburger, fried chicken, or even their east of everyburger, and yes, it literally features everything you can think of – beef, mac and cheese, onion rings, mustard, tomato, lettuce, and a whole lot more. Dive into their menu here.

Trinket

 

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– Address: 87 Flinders Lane
– Vibe: Modern Melbourne
– Dedicated Menu: Fancy finger food and cocktails

The Trinket Bar is a pretty bloody cool spot that hides so many cool secrets that’ll definitely impress you. It’s found in the basement, and you have to complete a few cool and fun tasks to enter.

To enter Trinket Bar, you’ve got to head to a cool wardrobe, move some clothes around, and find the secret entrance to the stunning basement bar. When you finally work out how to enter, there’s some killer drinks on offer, with notes of fruit, chilli and lots of other sweet stuff.

But don’t fret if you get a little peckish while you’re at Trinket, there’s food too, you can grab some cool stuff that’s bound to make your mouth water. To name a few, Triple-cheese cigars with smoked ash, which is served in an ash tray, sweet potato fries, and even some tasty flatbread. Check out some more info and menus from Trinket here.

Or if you’re down to spend a few hours here, they do a $55pp Bottomless pizza and cocktails, which only happens on Saturdays, but is there any other better day to do it? You can choose from cocktails like Pornstar Spritz’s, Sangria’s, or even a White Wine cooler. Or if you’re not a cocktail fan, head there on a Friday between 12-3 for a bargain $15 pizza.

The Attic (Black Pearl)

 

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– Address: 304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
– Vibe: VIP
– Dedicated Menu: Cocktails

You might think you’re in the Attic, but it’s hidden among another amazing bar. On the top level of Black Pearl is where you’ll find the beautiful Attic, a space you’d wish you’d known about earlier.

We’ve all been there, after a long night at a bar, and we’re ready to head somewhere else, but can’t find anywhere. Black Pearl helps you out a heap, with the secret bar Attic on the top level.

There’s something about the Attic’s interior that’ll transport you to America, with cool vibes and trendy bric a brac, you’d think you were in NYC. Check out more info over on their website here.

Pizza Pizza Pizza

 

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– Address: 16 Meyers Place
– Vibe: Secret and special
– Dedicated Menu: Pizza and Cocktails

This is the epitome of Melbourne’s hidden bars, with few mentions of it online, it’s hidden on the digital form too. It’s the pick of the bunch when it comes to hidden bars in Melbourne. It’s also a spot that has quickly become popular on Tiktok, thanks to the cool aesthetics.

From the façade, it looks like the classic late-night haunt where you can grab a few slices of gourmet tomato bread for an easy few bucks. But it holds so many more secrets, head past the tables and to the door that says staff only and face the wonder that is the Pizza Pizza Pizza bar.

When you enter, you’re exposed to some laid back vibes, there’s booths, so none of that awkward standing around. Low lighting, so you can come across a little bit hotter to your date, and DJ tunes all night, to top off the chilled vibes of the hidden Pizza Pizza Pizza bar.

There’s not too much more online about this secret bar, so you’ll need to head there to check it out. Give it a google before you head there to check out full details about it all. On the way out, grab some of their decadent cheesy pizza slices, and be energised for the uber home.

The hidden bars and secret bars we miss most 

If you think these venues below are just incredibly well hidden bars, we’ve got bad news for you. Unfortunately since we first published our guide to Melbourne’s best hidden and secret bars nearly a decade ago, a few of our favourites have shut up shop. In memoriam of some excellent drinking haunts gone bust, we decided to pay a little tribute to them here.

Hihou

What’s in a name? Roughly translated from Japanese, Hihou means ‘secret treasure’. That’s exactly what you’ll think when walking it into it’s zen-like minimalism, a nocturnal hangout seemingly lifted straight from a Tokyo back-alley. Any Japanese inspired bar worth its miso will have a quality range of whiskey and saki, and Hihou doesn’t disappoint. Kick back on reclining ottomans with candle lit stone tables while enjoying some chilli edamame or trout sashimi.

Formerly First Floor, 1 Flinders Lane, CBD. (03) 9654 5465.

Sister Bella

Sister Bella is a classic among Melbourne laneway hidden bars. The type that put alleyway culture on the map, making Sydneysiders forever jealous. Keep your beaches, we’ll take hole in the wall hideaways like Sister Bella any day of the week. Hidden behind a smattering of bins, you’ll see nothing but a few steps towards an equally unassuming door. Inside is a dimly lit bar filled with nooks and crannies that makes it feel like an undiscovered clubhouse.

Formerly 22 Drewery Place, CBD (enter via Sniders Lane).

The Alchemist

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble – I’ll take a whiskey, let’s make it a double. The Alchemist is tucked away, quietly perfecting their alcoholic potions. Rumour has it, their concoctions can make you dance five times harder and feel increasingly confident. Side effects include potent hangovers the next day. Decked out with low hanging chandeliers, wax candles and ominous skulls, the inside feels like a haunted mansion. Try their signature take on an espresso martini, complete with chilli and chocolate.

Formerly 361 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. (03) 9419 8250.

The Croft Institute

Tucked down a winding Chinatown alley, getting to The Croft Institute is part of your experience. Set over two floors, the first level is inspired by an old school science lab complete with a full kit of test tubes and other curious glassware. If you forgot to bring your Bunsen burner license, head upstairs to the gymnasium based level, boasting a real turf bar. Cocktails are custom designed to fit the mood, and DJs spin the weekend out with heady grooves.

Formerly 21 Croft Alley, CBD. (03) 9671 4399.

Check out Melbourne’s best wine bars here.