Last call: The Melbourne bars and pubs we miss more than our exes

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Last call: The Melbourne bars and pubs we miss more than our exes

Melbourne bars
Words by Coco Veldkamp

If the walls of Melbourne’s closed bars and pubs could talk, they’d whisper tales of nervy first dates in dimly lit corners, hearty pub meals shared by friends reuniting, the laughter of one-too-many ‘last rounds,’ and the warm banter of bartenders who knew just how to make you feel at home. If we could talk back, we'd say, 'We miss you.'

Melbourne’s beloved watering holes have faced relentless obstacles—whether it be developers turning them into apartments, the struggles of COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, or something entirely different (like a burst fire hydrant flooding the venue).

Now more than ever, we find ourselves having to say goodbye to our second homes. So, let’s raise a glass to the unforgettable bars and pubs of Melbourne that we will always hold dear.

Take a trip down memory lane with the Melbourne live music venues we miss most here and the iconic nightclubs we’ve lost here.

Bar Americano

“If you want one last Negroni at 20 Presgrave Place, this is your warning,” were the final words of Bar Americano. The modest venue closed its doors in 2022 after 11 years of exceptional service after a new landlord gained ownership of the property. The bar opened in 2011 with humble beginnings—a license for only 10 people. But their sensational Italian cocktails and standing-only set up were more than enough to get Bar Americano on the map and into our hearts.

The London Hotel

Built in 1870, Port Melbourne’s waterfront pub, the London Hotel, was where new arrivals headed to after they docked at the adjacent Station Pier. For over 150 years, the venue stood as the gateway to Melbourne and an integral part of the nation’s history. But in 2012, a developer bought it, and in 2017 it was demolished with the plan to build 18 apartments.

While there were over 100 objections lodged with the Port Phillip Council, the building did not have any heritage protection, and regrettably, the bulldozers rolled in.

The Brunswick Hotel

The beloved Brunswick Hotel did not lose its life to a lease ending, the bouts of the pandemic, or the cost-of-living crisis – it closed due to a massive flood after a driver crashed into a fire hydrant next to the venue (he was unharmed), causing water to be shot up onto the pub’s roof.

Parts of the ceiling collapsed inward, and the venue was ruined. While there were initial plans to reopen, on the Brunswick Hotel’s would-be 10th anniversary, management came forward with the bad news that it was closed for good. Affectionately known as the Brunny, patrons and staff mourned the closure of their cherished go-to. But a new venture was just around the corner, with owners announcing the opening of their latest feat – The Bergy Seltzer on Sydney Road. In this way, Brunny’s legacy shines on.

The Reverence Hotel

West-siders still hold a candle for the pub that was. After serving cheap drinks and good times for six years, the Reverence Hotel closed its doors in 2019 after being unable to renew its lease. Their iconic Taco Tuesdays, vegan food, and hangover-curing fries captured the heart of Footscray.

The venue was also known for hosting unforgettable live music events, bringing in bands from the punk, metal and indie scenes which saw The Reverence win the Best Live Music Pub at the 2015 Time Out Awards.

Alchemy Brewing

Ah – this one is still raw. In June, Alchemy Brewing – Brunswick East’s beloved bar, microbrewery, and restaurant – closed its doors after a “rough ride.” In its six-year tenure, Alchemy’s 16 taps found their way into the hearts of many Melbournians. Whether it was the Hazy Pale Ale, the Raspberry Berliner Weisse, or the American Brown Ale that caught your eye, beer lovers united in the venue’s unique and welcoming atmosphere.

The Great Western

The Great Western was truly a slice of history. The 158-year-old gold rush-era pub on King Street was constructed in the Victorian Regency style – and was virtually unaltered as it passed through various owners. It stood as a testament to the impact of the Gold Rush on Melbourne life. Ex-patrons from the latter half of the 20th century reminisce on the days you’d have a beer and a cigarette with breakfast at the pub when it opened at 10 am.

In its final years, it continued to play music from the ’70s and ‘80s, with old posters of music icons lining the walls. In 2022, tragedy struck as the owners decided to demolish the property with the plan to build a 22-story office space.

The Greyhound Hotel

St Kilda’s haven for LGBTQI+ expression and drag-queen culture was forced to close in 2017. The Greyhound Hotel brought in an inclusive and eclectic mix of people, with drag queen and hardcore punk shows sharing the space in perfect harmony. Sadly, despite attempts by ex-patrons, locals, and the council to intervene, the 164-year-old venue was demolished to make way for – you guessed it – apartments.

Izakaya Den

The Japanese word ‘Izakaya’ refers to an informal bar that serves alcoholic beverages. Back in 2009, Izakaya Den was one of the first venues to bring Izakaya to Melbourne—and part of a flourishing trend. The Den, located in the basement of an office building on Russell Street, was the perfect place for Japanese beer, sake, and a bite to eat in the CBD. Sadly, in 2024, it was effectively forced to close due to financial pressures.

So, there you have it—the gravesite of just a few of our darling ex- pubs and bars. As developers and tough times turn our favourite venues into fading memories, it’s clear that bars and pubs as we’ve known them are becoming a dying breed.

If you love your local, then show it—drop by for a pint, tip your bartenders, and bring your friends along. Let’s celebrate what remains and ensure our go-to’s don’t become just another name on a nostalgic list. Cheers to the past, and here’s to preserving the future.

Check out the best bars and pubs in Melbourne here.