The best cocktail bars in Melbourne

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The best cocktail bars in Melbourne

Best cocktail bars in Melbourne
Words by Jordan McCarthy

Here’s our list of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne, everywhere in the city for amazing cocktails including restaurants and food options.

In this list of the best cocktails bars in Melbourne, from Ringwood to St Kilda, we have you covered if you ever get the hankering for a Manhattan or a Negroni.

Whether it’s a cold beer, a full-bodied red or an aged whiskey you are after, no matter what corner you turn in this city of ours you will find a pub or bar serving up what you’re looking for. What can we say, we like to have a drink here in Melbourne and the business savvy have realised this and littered our city with watering holes to sate our appetites.

We are partial to a bit of a cocktail in these parts too. Whether it’s an espresso martini or a tequila sunrise. Whether you are a tanned and tattooed tradie or a sharply dressed business exec. Whether the sun is shining, or the storm of the century is in full swing. We love the taste of something that’s a little fancier on occasion. So, read on to find a list of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne’s suburbs for when you get the feeling for something a little fruity.

You can check out Melbourne’s most comprehensive guides to the best bars and pubs in each suburb and street here.


  • Address: 211 La Trobe Street, Tenancy GD075, CBD
  • Vibe: Modern Australian
  • Food: Local produce, smaller plates
  • Must Try Cocktail: Strawberry and fig leaf gin and tonic

First cab off the rank is the prestigious and award-winning CBD joint, Byrdi. These awards are nothing to sneeze at either, we are talking an award for Most Creative Cocktail Program as well as a spot on the 50 Best Bars in the World list. You read that right, in the world!

This place is amazing with a cocktail list unlike anything else you will see, and the food is just as good. Byrdi is all about sourcing local produce for their food and drinks as well as having seasonal menus. Any questions you may have about the menu or cocktails in general, just ask the barperson, Byrdi staff and owners are super knowledgeable about their craft. Check this place out.

Black Pearl

  • Address: 304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
  • Vibe: Cool and Cosy
  • Food: Cocktail snacks, small eats
  • Must Try Cocktail: Any of their tequila mixers

The Black Pearl has been a staple of the Melbourne cocktail scene since its inception in 2002. In its 19+ years nearly everyone who has had a drink in Fitzroy has had a beverage at Black Pearl, it’s just that type of place. You have either been there because you heard good things about, or someone has dragged you there to show it off to you. If you haven’t been yet, you will likely find your way through its doors at some stage of your existence.

Black Pearl has an extensive and impressive cocktail list for you to choose from, plus a small menu of finger and snack-type food, so everyone will find something to keep them happy. If you are having trouble deciding, just ask the bar staff for a suggestion and they will surely hook you up. On the weekends, you will find behind the back a door another bar called, The Attic, with a smaller more selective drinks list, table service and more exclusive atmosphere. This place is popular though, so be sure to book if you want to give The Attic a try.


  • Address: 169 Exhibition St, CBD
  • Vibe: Swanky and Historical
  • Food: Fun cocktail inspired snacks
  • Must Try Cocktail: Hit the Road Jack (absinthe and smoked grenadine)

1806 is another CBD based cocktail bar that is well worth your time, and will serve you cocktails that have been around for over 200 years. That’s what 1806 is bringing to the table, a moody, vintage and historical type vibe. So, you can give the ever in style Old Fashioned a run or try something new age from the special’s menu – we are talking chocolate and angostura mixed drinks here – you will be well sorted at 1806.

On top of being one of Melbourne’s premium cocktail bars, 1806 offers up even more, I’m talking masterclasses. Perfect for birthday kick offs or rainy weekend time killers, book yourself a spot at one of 1806’s classes. They range from cocktail making classes for beginners to advanced as well as whisky tasting and martini making classes. A great date night idea if I’ve ever heard one.

The Kilburn

  • Address: 348 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn
  • Vibe: Fun and Bright
  • Food: Pizza and snacks
  • Must Try Cocktail: Spicy Chilli Ginger Margarita

Found in Hawthorn, The Kilburn, is a hard-to-miss cocktail and whiskey lounge located in beautiful heritage-listed building that was once home to one of Melbourne’s most popular cigar bars. With a beautiful and bright (golden) décor The Kilburn is usually always a pumping, and a popular place to host events and functions.

The cocktail list has all the classics you know and love, as well as a number of house creations for you to give a try. If you’re a whiskey lover than The Kilburn may be your choice of venues from this list. We are talking Australian, American, Japanese, Island, blended whiskeys and more to choose from. You will have a hard time choosing, so just tell the helpful bar staff what you like, and they will be sure to have a suggestion for you.

Above Board

  • Address: Level 1/306 Smith Street Chopper Lane, Collingwood
  • Vibe: Clean and Intimate
  • Food: Delectable snacks
  • Must Try Cocktail: Salty-Boi (banana miso, orloroso, fernet)

Above Board is a small and award-winning – another 50 Best Bars in the World list maker – cocktail bar located in Smith St, Collingwood. Tougher to find than most, you have to make your way through fellow Smith St hotspot Beermash to find the entrance, Above Board is a must try for all cocktail lovers. The hard-to-find entrance just adds to the mystique of the small and intimate bar that already feels exclusive and VIP worthy, a real hidden gem among the best cocktail bars in Melbourne. To add to this is their small online profile, if you want to know what Above Board is about, you have to visit Above Board.

The cocktail list is smaller than some other venues on this list, but once you read their signature cocktail list your mouth will be salivating, and you’ll be rearing to give them all a try. From the Short Goodbye to the Better Late Than Never, they all sound amazing. Do yourself a favour and track this one down.

Franklin’s Bar

  • Address: 646 High St, Thornbury
  • Vibe: Cocktails and DJ’s
  • Must Try Cocktail: The Bumblebee (citrus gin, cherry bitters)

Franklin’s Bar is a must-visit if you find yourself out and about in Melbourne’s inner north. Come by in the afternoon and settle out in the beer garden for some sunshine or roll in a little later to the dark and cosy lounge. No matter the time though Franklin’s is serving up all the beautiful cocktails that you will find on their menu.

More than just a cocktail bar, Franklin’s is also known for getting in some of Melbourne’s finest DJ’s every weekend to spin some vinyl. It’s located right in the middle of the ever-busy High St so even if it’s just one stop on a multi-stop crawl, you’ll love your time at Franklin’s.

Lily Blacks

  • Address: 12 Meyers Pl, CBD
  • Vibe: Candlelit and Chill
  • Food: Oysters and finger food
  • Must Try Cocktail: Negroni from the heart (a weekly rotating selection of different styles of negroni)

This is lazy journalism, but “Lily Blacks is for the true cocktail aficionado. Bring the prestige of the Golden Era of cocktails to its illustrious laneway location,” I ripped that straight from their website, but there is no better way to describe this beautiful, old-fashioned favourite for the best cocktail bars in Melbourne. Located in the heart of the city Lily Blacks is where to go if you want to work your way down a classic cocktail menu, starting with aperitifs and ending in digestifs.

Amelia Shaw Bar

  • Address: 280 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
  • Vibe: Fun and Eclectic
  • Food: Pub meals downstairs
  • Must Try Cocktail: Top Shelf Espresso Martini (its top shelf!)

Amelia Shaw Bar is located above one of my favourite pubs and local watering holes, The Retreat in Brunswick. This place is pretty well hidden up there too, it took me longer to discover its existence than I am proud to admit after my many sessions at the pub downstairs.

Named after the pubs first licensed owner from way back in 1842, Amelia Shaw is well worth checking out, it’s definitely one of the most unique venues among our picks for the best cocktail bars in Melbourne, with its eclectic mismatched furniture, old-school west coast vibe and fully loaded cocktail list. This place is also a popular function room, so be sure to ring and book before heading on over.

The Ugly Duckling

  • Address: 238 Swan St, Cremorne
  • Vibe: Stylish and Elegant
  • Food: Share plates and snacks
  • Must Try Cocktail: Salted Caramel Old-Fashioned

The Ugly Ducking is a beautiful and stylish establishment that is sure to impress you and your mates. First thing you notice when you walk in is the unique and elegant skylight and it’s a feature you’ll find your eyes wandering back to, time and again.

Amazing architecture aside, The Ugly Ducking is also one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne on a pure recipe-basis, with over 200 individual spirits on hand their list of traditional and signature cocktail is immense, making sure everyone will find something that takes their fancy. With a beautiful antipasto menu as well, The Ugly Duckling is a sure fire hit.

The Budgie Bar

  • Address: 1/166 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood
  • Vibe: Full Party
  • Food: Japanese food truck
  • Must Try Cocktail: Aloe Aloe (gin, bitters, aloe vera foam)

The Budgie Bar is one of the newer venues on this list, only popping up in the last couple of years, but it’s already one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne. Forgoing the old-school, classic cocktail bar look that a lot of the others are going for, The Budgie Bar is a converted warehouse that’s light and bright and has a real party vibe.

There is a killer Japanese food truck on site to keep you fed while you make your way through the large list of cocktails on offer. This place is decked out to, with liquid nitrogen on tap and, I shit you not, a classic car collection to peruse while you’re sipping on your white chocolate pina colada.

St Luja

  • Address: 9 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
  • Vibe: Whiskey and Wood
  • Food: Pizza and pasta from next door
  • Must Try Cocktail: The Friday night margaritas

St Luja is a nifty little whiskey and cocktail bar that you’ll find southside in St Kilda. A beautiful, wooded venue St Luja offers “signature, classic, forgotten and obscure” cocktails that are sure to satisfy everyone. St Luja also specialises in whiskey, so whether you like it neat, or a whiskey cocktail this place is sure to have you sorted.

If you fancy yourself a bit of a poker shark then head to St Luja’s every Thursday night for their weekly poker tournament. Poker at a cocktail and whiskey bar… would have to be the fanciest poker tournament going around.

Double Happiness

  • Address: 21 Liverpool St, Melbourne
  • Vibe: Neon Hip Hop
  • Food: Possibly snacks, if not cocktail garnishes will do
  • Must Try Cocktail: Sichuan Margarita (tequila, aperol, Sichuan sauce)

Rounding out the list of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne is another CBD staple, Double Happiness. Since 2002 this place has had customers filing in, in droves, we are talking claims of over 181,000 espresso martinis made. Seriously though this place is as cool as they come. An amazing list of eclectic signature cocktails, hip hop anthems playing loud, red neon lights and Asian inspired décor. This little laneway treasure is a must-stop shop on any cocktail inspired tour.

So that’s, that. A round up of some of the best cocktail bars Melbourne has to offer from the CBD to the east. If cocktails aren’t your poison of choice make sure to check out our other articles featuring the best pubs and bars from a number of suburbs around Melbourne.

If you’re keen to journey somewhere a little bit secret and ‘underground’ instead, check out our list of the best hidden bars.