Melbourne’s Finest Cocktail Bars: Discover Local Mixology Masterpieces

Today’s bars aren’t just about the drinks; they’re a complete sensory experience. Emphasizing the importance of ambiance and service, these establishments offer more than just a beverage-they provide a space to unwind and relax. I’ve curated a list of cocktail bars that excel not only in innovative mixology but also in creating the perfect atmosphere for you to savor each moment. From cozy, ambient settings to spots with top-notch service, these are places where every detail enhances your enjoyment of a well-crafted cocktail.

1. Arbory Bar and Eatery

Arbory Bar and Eatery, uniquely situated on Melbourne’s historic Sandridge railway platform, offers an expansive 100-meter river frontage on the Yarra River. This all-day outdoor venue, nestled between Flinders Street Station and the Yarra, is renowned for its craft-focused and comfort-driven food and beverage options, serving from morning until late evening.

📷@Arbory Bar and Eatery

Embracing its location, Arbory acknowledges the land’s deep-rooted heritage as the traditional grounds of the Wurundjeri people. The Yarra River, central to Melbourne’s development and significant to the Wurundjeri tribe, plays a pivotal role in Arbory’s identity. This establishment not only offers a unique dining experience but also a connection to the rich cultural and historical tapestry of Melbourne.


Located in the lively Southbank area, BearBrass is a welcoming establishment on the Yarra River’s banks, offering stunning views of Melbourne’s cityscape. Known for its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, the venue serves fresh coffee daily and warm breakfasts on weekends, with an all-day casual dining experience complemented by a selection of delicious cocktails.


BearBrass stands out not just for its food but also for its versatile spaces, including the Front Terrace, which can accommodate up to 30 guests and offers a warm atmosphere with gorgeous river and city views. Perfect for a variety of events, from cocktail parties to weddings, BearBrass is also a hub for live music on Saturday nights, creating an ideal setting for good vibes, city views, and a diverse menu ranging from breakfast classics to evening mains and inventive drinks.

3.Eau De Vie

Eau De Vie, a Melbourne gem located on Malthouse Lane, is a creation of Sven Almenning’s World Class drinking venues. This whiskey-focused cocktail bar, led by chef Mark Favaloro, previously of Movida, offers a unique experience with its extensive range of whisk(e)y from around the globe and a diverse cocktail list. The venue steps beyond traditional boundaries with a five-course whiskey and cocktail degustation dinner, complemented by a tapas menu that diverges from its Spanish origins.

📷@Simon Shiff

The bar’s 1920s prohibition-era ambiance is captivating, with seating options ranging from the bar to private booths. Eau De Vie’s hidden Whisky Room, accessible behind a bookcase, boasts a collection of rare whiskies and offers private Bottle Lockers. Ideal for groups of 15 – 40, the room can transform into a private event space, while the Eau-de-Vie Library hosts up to 16 guests for exclusive cocktail degustation experiences, making the venue not just a place to drink, but a holistic and memorable experience.


Byrdi, a uniquely Australian bar in Melbourne, is the brainchild of Luke Whearty and Aki Nishikura, the duo renowned for their success with Singapore’s Operation Dagger. Celebrated for its innovative techniques, Byrdi reflects the local environment in its drinks, offering a menu that includes small plates like grilled prawns and flatbread with smoked yogurt, alongside creative cocktails.


The cocktail creation process at Byrdi involves meticulous care, with elements like fermented berries and homemade wattle wine. They also offer bottled cocktails, such as Lamington Negroni, available next door at Blackhearts & Sparrows. With over two decades of experience, Whearty and Nishikura’s Byrdi emphasizes a strong connection to local produce and seasons, offering an ever-evolving, uniquely Australian experience.

5.Pearl Diver

Pearl Diver Oyster Bar & Bistro, a creation of Alex Boon and Pez Collier from the Speakeasy Group, brings a unique dining experience to Melbourne’s theatre precinct. Following a year-long mentorship under group directors Greg Sanderson and Sven Almenning, the venue, formerly Annam, has been transformed by Studio Y into an oceanic retreat with a calming color palette and nautical decor.

At Pearl Diver, the focus is on seasonal oysters, served au naturel or cooked, alongside a full bistro menu with items like salted-cod beignets and duck terrine. The drink offerings, curated by Collier and Boon, include classic cocktails with a twist and a diverse wine list. The venue, known for its private dining room with an ice well table, offers a variety of dining experiences, from casual bar seating to a more formal dining room setting.

6.The Rum Diary Bar

📷@Therese Bourne

The Rum Diary Bar, situated on Brunswick Street where the iconic Gypsy Bar once was, pays homage to rum with a collection of over 125 varieties from around the world. Known for its standout cocktails like the Dark and Stormy, the bar also caters to diverse tastes with Australian craft beers, wines, and non-rum spirits. Recently, they’ve enhanced their courtyard, offering street food with Spanish, South American, and Caribbean flavors, including favorites like char-grilled corn with chipotle butter and manchego.

In early 2019, Jacob Goss took the helm, revamping the space while retaining its best elements, including the expert bar staff and the lively back beer garden. The Rum Diary Bar, with its atmospheric lighting and pirate-ship ambiance, features an extensive rum collection, accessible via a rolling library ladder, and hosts live music on weekends. It remains a top destination on Brunswick Street for a blend of blues or rock’n’roll, and its Dark and Stormy cocktail continues to be a crowd favorite.

7. 1806

Since its inception in 2007, 1806 has transformed the space of the former Tikki and John’s Crazyhouse into a cocktail bar that blends theater and history. With a viewing mezzanine that adds to its opulence, the bar offers a menu that traces the evolution of cocktails from 1806, the year the term was first defined, with a classic mix representing each decade. The bar’s extensive collection now includes 110 whiskies, complemented by knowledgeable staff offering whisky tasting flights.

📷@Mitch Lui

1806, founded by Lisa Kelly, Sebastian Raeburn, and Elizabeth Green, is more than just a bar; it’s a tribute to the art and history of cocktail crafting. Located in the heart of Melbourne, 1806 stands out with its unique atmosphere, cocktail masterclasses, and a menu that includes nibbles, charcuterie boards, and whisky-infused chocolate brownies. It’s a haven for those who appreciate the craft of mixology, offering an intimate experience in The Understudy, a private space for larger groups.

8.Caretaker’s Cottage


Tucked away behind the Wesley Place church on Little Lonsdale street is the Caretaker’s Cottage, a quaint bluestone building dating back to 1914. Transformed by Rob Libecans, Ryan Noreiks, and Matt Stirling, renowned for their cocktail expertise, the cottage now serves as a unique, pint-sized British-style pub, blending its historical charm with modern flair.

The pub, maintaining its original paisley wallpaper and staircase, offers a cozy bar atmosphere with a select list of classic and house cocktails, including a rotating milk punch and Guinness on tap. The space features Tasmanian oak bartop, bronze-and-oak speakers, a vinyl collection, and British-inspired snacks like smoked-trout dip and Welsh rarebit, making it a fusion of heritage and contemporary pub culture.

9. Mjølner

Mjølner, located in Melbourne’s CBD, is a Viking and Norse-inspired restaurant created by Norwegian Sven Almenning. It features contemporary Scandinavian design infused with historic Viking elements, offering an immersive dining experience across its two levels. The restaurant, reflecting Thor’s influence, specializes in both modern and traditional cooking techniques, boasting over 600 whiskies and a specialized cocktail list, redefining modern dining.

This protein-forward venue, conceptualized as Thor’s earthbound haven against homesickness for Valhalla, doesn’t mimic ancient Viking menus but rather imagines contemporary Viking cuisine. Highlights include 12-hour braised ribs, venison rolled in ash, and a bombe Alaska set on fire at your table. With Viking iconography throughout, diners select from ornate handmade knives for their meal. The two-level space also features a cocktail bar in the basement, with unique drinks like the savory Erik the Red Bloody Mary and the sweet Northern Lights cocktail.

Monday-Tuesday: CLOSED ; Wednesday-Thursday: 5pm – Late ; Friday: 12pm – 4pm, 5pm – Late; Saturday-Sunday: 5pm – Late

10.Gin Palace

Since 1997, Gin Palace in Melbourne has masterfully disguised its opulent interior with a stark exterior. Inside, the lavish combination of velvet, dim lighting, and plush seating evokes a sense of luxury. Despite its name suggesting otherwise, Gin Palace far surpasses the old notion of gin joints, standing out even among modern, minimalist bars in the city.

📷@Simon Shiff

Gin Palace, true to its name, focuses extensively on gin, boasting a wide selection including a dedicated martini page and a variety of gin-forward cocktails. Despite its focus, other options like fruity cocktails and warm spiced pear cider are also available. The bar, known for its comfortable booths and late-night allure, remains a popular Melbourne destination for both its expansive gin selection and its cozy, inviting atmosphere.