The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in Melbourne

Melbourne’s cocktail scene has come a long way since we invented the Japanese Slipper (you’re welcome). And while we still do a mean Espresso Martini, world-class bars like The Everleigh and Bar Americano have elevated the classic cocktail to an art form. Alongside these copper-clad dens of historical booze fantasy, bars like Joe Taylor and The Black Pearl (where, full disclosure, I tend bar) have created a neighborhood vibe unique to Melbourne. These are places where bartenders are just as happy to serve you a beer alongside some banter as they are their latest barrel-aged creation. They’ll remember your name, remember your drink and remember not to take themselves too seriously. —Fred Siggins

  • 1

    Bar Americano

    Off a side street, down an alley and then down another alley, you’ll find Bar Americano, a tiny space with no seating and only enough room for about ten to stand and one of the best bartenders in Melbourne. The space gets packed quickly, but it's worth the wait to be able to lean on the tiny wood and copper bar, surrounded by frosted glass drinking what is somehow the best combination of vermouth and Campari you’ve ever tasted in your life.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
  • 2

    The Black Pearl

    For over 12 years, The Black Pearl has been dishing out top-notch banter and high-quality, creative drinks at a rate that belies the cramped space behind the bar. (This is high-volume, rough and tumble bartending.) At heart this is a neighborhood bar where the regulars are royalty, so ordering a Jack and Coke will get you anything but a sneer. And as one of the only bars in the city open seven days a week until 3 a.m., The Pearl is where you’ll find Melbourne’s chefs, waiters and bartenders hanging out after midnight.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • singles scene
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • tiki
  • 3

    The Everleigh

    With a pedigree firmly rooted in New York’s now defunct Milk & Honey, The Everleigh is without question Australia’s best bar for classic, pre-Prohibition cocktails. The bartenders are impeccably trained, the vibe is no-details-missed 1920s, and every shard of ice is frozen in a custom-built freezer and carved by hand. Shelves around the room are adorned with first-edition cocktail guides and every drink comes in heavy-cut crystal tumblers or delicately etched coupettes. This is about as elegant as it gets in Melbourne.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
  • 4

    Joe Taylor

    Occupying a 1900s storefront on a quiet street in North Melbourne, Joe Taylor is where all first dates should take place. With a vibe more like a late-night café than a cocktail bar, it’s one of those places where you feel immediately at ease. The drinks are simple but creative, representing the best of what Melbourne cocktails have to offer: twists on classics with fresh seasonal ingredients, sans pomp and circumstance.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
    • historic
  • 5

    Le Bon Ton

    Occupying what was once an old pub off a back street in Collingwood, Le Bon Ton is an all-day, all-night festival of New Orleans-style good times. There’s a good selection of American craft beers on tap, a whole mess of absinthe and champagne, a raw bar and a short but excellent list of cocktails by venue manager (and former Australian Bartender of the Year) Evan Stanley. Best of all, they’re open until 6 a.m. on weekends, and serve bar food until 5 a.m.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • bar food
    • champagne
    • oysters / raw bar
    • craft beer
    • day drinking
    • outdoor / patio
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