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One of the best things about Melbourne is its cool bar scene.
The laneways and hidden corners are the natural habitat for secret drinking spots and have nurtured many bars that have stood the test of time.
Now over the years, I like to think I have built up a decent address book of hidden bars in Melbourne. But, as we had been living in London for a few years, I decided I needed some help rediscovering what’s new in the city.
I joined Walks 101 on their Hidden Laneway Bars of Melbourne tour and made some great discoveries to add to this list.
More about the tour at the end of this article – it’s a great activity if you are visiting Melbourne for a few days or a long weekend. And, if you’re a local like me, the tour will open your eyes to even more of our city’s magic.
What's in this article
If you can’t see it from the street then it is pretty much hidden right? Melbourne has embraced laneway and rooftop bars with a passion.
And there’s something about a hidden bar that goes hand in hand with our street art culture. Duck down a lane covered in murals and find a new watering hole. It doesn’t get more ‘Melbourne’ than that.
Here are some of our favourites.
One of my favourite places to spend a lazy afternoon in Melbourne is on a pontoon in the middle of the Yarra River!
Hidden under the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge, on a sunny day there is no better place to relax with a beer or cocktail than Ponyfish Island. If you’re celebrating something special (or even just because!) you can order a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.
Ponyfish Island – Yarra Pedestrian Bridge
Push back the velvet curtains at the entrance to the Gin Palace and your eyes are met with a luxurious lounge that is perfect for intimate conversations and musings about why gin is having such a moment these days.
At the Gin Palace they have championed our juniper tipple du jour for well over a decade and stock over 200 varieties. They make a mean martini too.
Gin Palace – 10 Russell Place
Beneath Driver Lane
Newly discovered (thanks to the Laneway bars tour!), take a trip to New Orleans when you venture down the stairs to Beneath Driver Lane.
Slide into one of the cosy banquettes and order yourself a Nitro Southside. This cocktail is as cool as a cucumber, using liquid nitrogen with theatrical effect. It’s not just for show either. This refreshing aperitif has the hallmarks of being the drink of the summer.
Beneath Driver Lane – Shop 3, Driver Lane
The decor is pretty kitsch but the vibe is fun and relaxed. Pull up a bar stool at Chuckle Park and enjoy the outdoor atmosphere with a jug of sangria or two.
This is a great place to catch up with mates as twinkling lanterns swing overhead. In winter there are heat lamps to keep you all cosy.
Chuckle Park – 322 Little Collins Street
Pizza Pizza Pizza
So hidden that you need a special password to get in, this bar hides behind a pizza by the slice joint. Pizza Pizza Pizza is not just a cute gimmick however.
Apart from the fun, I’ll be going back for their signature aged Negroni and chicken salt fries. Message me if you want the code.
Pizza Pizza Pizza – 16 Meyers Place
Having spent many an evening flitting from west to east Berlin without leaving Melbourne, I happily recommend this bar concept and their creative cocktails.
Start your night in the luxe West German salon before venturing east to the bunker, passing Checkpoint Charlie on your way. If you’re more of a beer drinker you’ll be impressed by the stock of German brews.
Berlin Bar – Top floor, 16 Corrs Lane
This one is for those of you who like your bars divey with a rock n roll legacy to brag about. Cherry is in AC/DC lane – of course. It’s the kind of place you go for a beers to see live music or to party hard after a gig you’ve waited a decade for. Cherry has been a Melbourne institution for almost 20 years. Expect no fancy cocktails here.
Cherry – AC/DC Lane
Eau de Vie
Taking inspiration from the Prohibition Era in 1920s America, Eau de Vie is more of an experience than simply a bar. Their cocktail theatre menu boasts the flaming ‘Ron Zacapa Blazer’ and other sensory creations on its outstanding list.
It would be quite rude to describe the elegant fare offered at EDV ‘bar snacks’. I’m quite obsessed with the eggplant chips, but you should also try the duck sausage roll.
If you’re a whiskey lover, there is a secret bar within a bar where you can select your favourite bottle and have it stored safely for your next visit.
Eau de Vie – 1 Malthouse Lane
Charming Presgrave Place is a haven for quirky street art but look for the blue Tabbacchi sign and you’ll find one of the smallest bars in Melbourne.
This standing room only venue has a seasonal menu of classic cocktails mixed by some of the best bar tenders in town, if not the world… if I do say so myself.
Bar Americano – 20 Presgrave Place
One of the original rooftop bars in Melbourne, Madame Brussels is still going strong with its cheeky pink and white garden party.
This is the place to go with a gaggle of girlfriends to enjoy jugs of cocktails on the terrace served by staff in tennis whites. There are poached chicken sandwiches, raspberry cupcakes and fondue on the menu at Madame Brussels and honestly, it’s just darling.
Madame Brussels – Level 3, 59-63 Bourke Street
Hovering over Meyers Place, Loop Roof is a casual rooftop bar great for late afternoon sips and getting your night started.
Pull up one of the colourful chairs in the outdoor garden terrace and relax with one of their environmentally conscious cocktails.
Loop Roof works with local businesses to use products that would otherwise be written off as waste. Make mine a Fig-ure it out sour.
Loop Roof – Level 3, 23 Meyers Place
Perhaps the most romantic bar in town, Siglo is a stylish bar with views over Parliament House and a European feel. Siglo is an emotional favourite of mine and a wonderful place for celebrations and date nights when you need to impress.
Champagne or a dirty martini is my drink of choice at this venue. If you’re hungry the polenta chips are not to be missed. In my opinion, it’s the best rooftop bar in Melbourne.
Siglo Bar – upstairs, 2/161 Spring Street
About the Hidden Laneway Bars tour
Designed by Walks 101 founder “American” John, the laneway bars tour takes you on a three hour journey of drinks discovery around central Melbourne.
Jumping on and off trams and ducking in and out of alleys, John or one of his able team share highlights of Melbourne’s famous laneways peppered with anecdotes and fun facts.
Along the way you stop at four very different bars where you choose what you like. If you’re smart you’ll listen to the suggestions of your bar tender. They will match a beverage to your tastes.
Even if you are not a big drinker (like me these days) the bars are happy to recommend non-alcoholic options.
In any case, the tour is as much about discovering Melbourne’s laneway culture as having a few drinks.
The tour starts at 3pm, so by the time it ends you are well and truly ready to continue your evening. You may even have made a few friends along the way.
Our tour group was a friendly mix of international and interstate visitors as well as country Victorians.
For more information and to book yourself on a tour visit the Walks 101 website.
Do you have a favourite bar in Melbourne?
And do you need to know a secret handshake to get in?
We love Melbourne (and live there!) – here are some articles to help you plan your visit
- Melbourne visitor guide – insider tips for visiting our beautiful city
- Boutique hotels in Melbourne – our guide to small design led hotels in our city
- Great Ocean Road – tips for your self drive trip
Disclosure – We were kindly invited on the Laneway Bars tour by Walks 101. As always, all opinions are our own. Untold Morsels assists our readers with carefully chosen product and services recommendations that help make travel easier and more fun. If you click through and make a purchase on many of these items we may earn a commission. Please read our disclosure page for more information.