I’m a fan of a good bar crawl, and since moving to Melbourne, all I heard about was how many amazing hidden bars there are, but me and my friends just kept going to the same places. So I took the opportunity when my friend came over to Australia to finally get out and seeing the cool and quirky bar scene that the city offers.
I did my research. Oh did I do my research. To help me along, like all of my generation, I googled… “Top 10 bars in Melbourne” “top 50 bars in the world” and “hidden cocktail bars in Melbourne”, and then I made a list of 10 places I wanted to go to. Unfortunately I’ve thrown the list away now, so I have no idea what was on the original list, but I know we did make it to 5 (plus a crappy little bar we waited in for the first bar to open) … that was as far as my wallet would allow. But I wouldn’t fault one of them, except the crappy little bar.
- The Everleigh, Fitzroy: We decided to first try out The Everleigh, because it was named in the ‘world’s 50 best bars’ and was winner of ‘bar of the year’ in Time Out. It was a really great bar, hidden behind and above a chicken shop, you’d have no idea it was there unless you were specifically looking for it. The bar itself was very lavishly decorated, you walked in and felt like you were in New Orleans in the jazz era. Jazz was playing, the bar was fancy and very well stocked with all manner of spirits, and the waiters/waitresses/barmen were all dressed smartly. We were escorted to a little booth and given a cocktail menu, which was small but no doubt every cocktail tastes amazing. Where they’re probably different to most cocktail bars though is that they have “barman’s choice” where you go and speak to the barman, tell him what you like and he puts together a cocktail just for you. Unfortunately that was too pricey for me at that time, so I went for a lovely gin cocktail and I wasn’t disappointed. All in all I would recommend this to anyone, and I would definitely go back.
- The Black Cat, Fitzroy: We kind of just stumbled upon this one while we were walking to ‘The Black Pearl’, it looked like a cafe on the outside and we could see sofas inside and a DJ playing. We decided to walk inside, and noticed it was a tiny little place – probably is a cafe during the day … it has a little bar, manned by one person with sofas, newspapers, people sitting on their laptops. It was definitely an interesting little place, and cheap too … which is great in my books.
- The Black Pearl, Fitzroy: Probably named in every cocktail list you can find on google, I was expecting a lot from this little cocktail bar. When we got there one of the first things you notice is the sheer amount of awards above the bar, and the really cool cocktail menus. Stupidly, I went for a spirit that I don’t actually like, but they made it sound so nice on the menu – and I was disappointed. Not because it was a bad cocktail, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been, but because I was stupid enough to order something ‘out of the ordinary’. My friends was good though, and I plan on going back to buy something I’ll actually enjoy.
- Eau De Vie, Melbourne CBD: This was probably my favourite of the night, just because it’s so hidden, and just not what you’re expecting. We used google maps to find it (of course) but we were wandering around where it was meant to be for quite a while before finally deciding to ask a local restaurant where it was. He pointed us to a big wooden door (you’d have no idea it was a bar unless you were told about it) and in we walked to a dark, classy bar with a waiting list to be seated. It was so busy but that added to the type of bar it is. We were seated and handed the very large list of cocktails; it took us ages to pick. We weren’t disappointed. This is a very cute date place.
- Bar 1806, Melbourne CBD: We actually stumbled across this one when we were trying to find Goldilocks, and were pulled in by the red velvet and mahogany (yep, we’re Will Ferrell in Anchorman). This bars USP is that they go through history via drinks, their menu is intense, and interesting. Unfortunately by this point we were skint so just ordered prosecco. Still delightful.
Since this bar crawl, I’ve seen many more hidden gems and great bars. I’ve barely scratched the surface, even if I lived here permanently I’d not see most of them. But if there’s one thing you must do if you ever visit Melbourne: bar crawl. You’ll not be disappointed.