Melbourne is well known for its hidden bars; from underground bunkers to laneway hideouts. Usually a drink at one of them can be expensive, but what if you could enjoy the best of the city and pay happy hour prices? Here’s our guide to the best happy hours at Melbourne’s secret bars, so you’re able to impress your mates or date, and walk away with a happy wallet.
Bar, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Ferydurke | Courtesy of CHUG
From the team behind Section 8 – a bar made out of wooden pallets – comes Ferdydurke, a more conventional drinking hole, but equally as charming. Enter the non-descript door off Tattersalls Lane and scale the two flights of steps to reach the main bar. It’s cosy, with wooden panels lining the ceiling and faded posters plastered across the walls. Walk past the bar and you’ll find some more intimate seating that looks out over Tattersalls Lane. Come the weekend, the DJ sets up in the corner and the crowd picks up. Swing by on a Wednesday for AU$8 (US$6) Jamaican ginger beer and AU$1 (US$0.76) jerk wings. Available from 4pm–7pm.
You wouldn’t think that an awesome bar could be found at a teahouse, but that’s exactly where to discover Zhou Zhou. The Oriental Teahouse group of restaurants was founded by David Zhou over 10 years ago to ‘connect the dots between Chinese tradition and the contemporary Melbourne dining scene.’ Once you’ve enjoyed their signature blend and some yum-cha, climb the stairs to discover Zhou Zhou, a modern bar inspired by the Shanghai nightlife. They claim to have the largest offering of Japanese craft beers south of The Yarra. While their brand new cock-teas are a concoction of both cocktails and tea (Who’d have guessed?) They also piggyback off the kitchen downstairs, serving delicious dumplings and yum-cha. And if cheap dumplings are your thing, swing by on Wednesday evening when they’re just AU$1 (US$0.76). Happy hour also runs from 5pm–7pm with AU$6 schooners (US$4.50), AU$6 house wine and AU$6 basic spirits.
Glamping, a form of camping more luxurious than traditional methods, is a culture that has grown steadily over the past few years. And it was only a matter of time before Melbourne decided it needed a bar dedicated to this luxurious way of holidaying. Glamp is a hidden cocktail bar in the heart of the Central Business District with two beautiful luxurious indoor tents. To get there, head to Pole Pole and take the stairs up to the second level. Inside, a giant white rhino statue greets visitors as they make their way to one of the two fabulous tents. For those who want the glamourous life for less, Thursday night is the time to visit, when a selection of cocktails are just AU$10 (US$7.50).
Irish bars are a dime a dozen, but a Scottish bar? That’s something you don’t see every day. Highlander Bar lives on the edge of the city, halfway down a quiet cobblestone laneway. It feels like a modern tavern, with exposed brick walls and intimate booths. The menu is filled with a slew of burgers, chunky steak pies, haggis balls & also black pudding. For those not initiated into Scottish grub, Highlander Bar is the perfect place to start. And for those looking for a drink or two, visit on a Monday when it’s happy hour all night. AU$5 beer (US$3.70), AU$5 wine and AU$5 basic spirits are served all the way up to 10pm.
Chinatown is home to many hidden bars, but Pulp Club is a cut above. Pass the Peking duck window displays and turn down Corrs Lane to a doorway eclipsed by a painting of a pineapple; enter here. The bar is filled with faux grass, hanging ferns and plenty of neon lights. A disco ball in the shape of a navy mine hangs above the bar. Pulp Club specialises in fusing their own freshly pressed juice with your favourite alcohol, offering six different types of their signature ‘juicetails.’ There’s ‘Spank My Strawberry’ – filled with strawberries, passionfruit and lime – and ‘Beetroot Beatlejuice’ – a sour blend with beetroot, plum and rosemary. For those who want a little more kick to their drink, Pulp has AU$11 (US$8) espresso martinis every day of the week.
Sister Bella is a pure quintessential Melbourne bar. Turn off bustling Lonsdale Street and head along Drewery Lane, just to take another turn down Sniders Lane, a bin-lined alleyway that appears to lead nowhere. Then just below the 20m (66 ft.) high painting of Kim Kardashian (don’t ask) there’s a non-descript entrance that will take you through to this secret spot. Sister Bella feels like a bar would on a pirate ship; the stairs are creaky, peeling posters line the walls and the crowd is more than jovial. It’s a tight squeeze on any given night. Sister Bella is perfect for an intimate drink, with tables for two that run against the exposed brick wall. Grab their set of Connect 4 and buckle in for a flirt-filled evening. Sister Bella has a happy hour that runs most nights, but outside of this their drinks are dirt cheap anyway.