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Melbourne Bars

Updated on May 14, 2009
Melbourne's night skyline from the Rialto Observation Deck (Photo by mugley on flickr)
Melbourne's night skyline from the Rialto Observation Deck (Photo by mugley on flickr)

A guide to Melbourne's Nightlife

Melbourne has hundreds of bars, pubs and clubs. It features live music every night of the week, many hidden treasures and bars with International acclaim. This is your guide to Melbourne's eclectic night-dweller haunts...

If you'd like more information about any venue, I'd suggest looking them up at Melbourne Nightlife (my website) or Melbourne Pubs - both have up-to-date information around Melbourne. 

What's your favourite nightlife venue?

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Collingwood DJ (Photo by mugley on flickr)
Collingwood DJ (Photo by mugley on flickr)

Live Music

Melbourne is renowned for having live music on every night of the week. Some of the best known live music venues are listed below.

Esplanade Hotel - St. Kilda
Affectionately known as "The Espy" to the locals, this pub can house many live music acts in its various rooms. If you're into live music you have to visit Melbourne's home of live music - The Espy. Also, try not to miss out on the late night pizza specials or a big breakfast for a weekend recovery session.

Corner Hotel - Richmond
A mix of up-and-coming stars and well-known acts grace the stage of "the corner" every week. There is also a popular beer garden on the top of the venue that looks out towards the city - and features a trashy trivia quiz every Wednesday night.

Ding Dong Lounge - Melbourne
Rock and roll is Ding Dong Lounge's reason for living. With a sister club in New York, Ding Dong consistenly finds A-grade acts to please the locals and not-so-local locals.

Northcote Social Club - Northcote
Despite only being around for a few years, this bar has managed to pull some of the hottest local and International acts and continues to please those looking for a rockin' good time.

Rainbow Hotel - Fitzroy
Delivering live music seven days a week for as long as anyone can remember, the Rainbow Hotel should keep you happy whenever you manage to pop by.

Evelyn Hotel - Fitzroy
Bringing live music to Brunswick Street for well over a decade, the Evelyn is still a pumping venue with music most nights.

Pony - Melbourne
A little dingy and dark, this place only kicks late off at night. Don't be surprised if you find it at it's busiest around 2am.

If you're after more up and coming acts you might want to consider:
The Arthouse - North Melbourne
The Barleycorn Hotel - Collingwood
Public Bar - North Melbourne

A little more refined? You might like some jazz haunts...
Bennetts Lane - Melbourne
Manchester Lane - Melbourne
Paris Cat - Melbourne

Melbourne's infamous hidden alley bars (Photo by mugley on flickr)
Melbourne's infamous hidden alley bars (Photo by mugley on flickr)

Hidden Bars

Sometimes the harder they are to find, the more fun they turn out to be.

Croft Institute - Melbourne
Down the back of an alley, down the back of an alley, in the middle of Chinatown you might find the elusive Croft Institute. Paynes Place is a little alley off Little Bourke Street (Between Russell and Exhibition Streets), and off Paynes Place is the hidden Croft Alley - follow it right to the end and you'll find yourself outside the Croft Institute.

Section 8 - Melbourne
A bar made out of a shipping container, hidden just off Tattersalls lane in Chinatown.

Roxanne Parlour - Melbourne
Another walk down a Chinatown Alley (Coverlid Place this time) and a climb up a few flights of stairs and you'll be at one of Melbourne's hottest new hidden bars.

Rooftop Bar - Melbourne
This one isn't too hard to find once you know where it is, but people regularly get lost looking for it. Only a few floors above the famous Cookie bar and restaurant, Rooftop Bar on Swanston Street is a must-see in Summer.

Madame Brussels - Melbourne
The once-famous brothel owner, Madame Brussels, would be proud of the bar with her name attached. Located at the top of a city office block on Bourke Street you'll find the outside indoors with fake grass, staff looking like they came from a country club and cocktails by the jug. They also have a nice balcony with great city views all year around - with free rugs provided when it's chilly.

Misty - Melbourne
Hidden in Hosier Lane (between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane, near Russell Street) you'll find another hidden gem. The wide range of drinks include plenty of beers, wine and some amazing cocktails.

Markov Place - Carlton
Inbetween a barber and second-hand store on Elgin Street sits Markov Place, follow it down for Carlton's answer to the hidden bar. It comes with fully trained bar staff and great food available to order.

Bar None - Camberwell
Hidden down the stairs next to a rug shop in one of the less-travelled streets in Camberwell. This classy establishment is well worth a visit for a cocktail or two if you're nearby.

Cocktails (What Willis Was Talking About & Mojito) at Tony Starr's Kitten Club (Photo by avlxyz on flickr).
Cocktails (What Willis Was Talking About & Mojito) at Tony Starr's Kitten Club (Photo by avlxyz on flickr).

World-class Bars

Melbourne's finest watering holes for discerning tastes. Cocktails, cocktails and more cocktails.

1806 - Melbourne
Getting a history lesson about cocktails has never been more enjoyable. 1806, which takes its name from the year the word cocktail was first in print, offers patrons one of the weightiest cocktail books I've ever seen - and includes a great deal of information about everyone of your favourite mixes. Friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere will have you leaving 1806 maybe a little tipsy and, hopefully, much better educated.

Gin Palace - Melbourne
Launched in the early 1990s and with a focus squarely on gin, this laneway favourite has been offering up some of the world's best martinis.

Hairy Canary - Melbourne
The Melbourne CBD's original Spanish bar - offering up tapas, beers and cocktails for well over a decade.

Cookie - Melbourne
Swanston Street's renowned Thai-inspired restaurant and bar is the perfect place to wind back after a long day at work. It has a classy wooden charm, with bohemian chic thrown in over the top, and helped revitalise the ornate Curtin House into a plethora of nighttime entertainment.

Tony Starr's Kitten Club - Melbourne
Cocktails and Jazz have a unique home at this Little Collins Street staple.

Brunswick Street
Ginger - Fitzroy
Bringing a sophisticated style to the bohemian heavy Brunswick Street is no easy task - but Ginger is certainly capable and willing. Frequently likened to a Manhattan-style cocktail bar the experienced bartenders here will satisfy you with their modern takes on old favourites.

Polly - Fitzroy
Opulence is the first word that entered my head regarding Polly when I first entered years ago, and the thought still remains.

You might also like...
Cabinet - Melbourne
Golden Monkey - Melbourne
Borsch, Vodka and Tears - Prahran

Black Cat, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (Photo by Lynt on flickr).
Black Cat, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (Photo by Lynt on flickr).
Tony Starr's Kitten Club (Photo by avlxyz on flickr).
Tony Starr's Kitten Club (Photo by avlxyz on flickr).


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    • Alex Woo profile image

      Alex Woo 

      7 years ago from Washington DC

      Fantastic article!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      An informative and handy guide for visitors to Melbourne - thanks for sharing it!


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