Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) has some of the city’s best rooftop, underground and secret bars, which are ready and waiting for you with a creative cocktail or two.
Whether you’re searching for a cocktail to enjoy after work, late at night or following a long day of Melbourne adventures, here are our top recommendations for places to drink cocktails in Melbourne’s CBD.
Perfectly nestled between Flinders Street Station and the Yarra River, Arbory Bar & Eatery is a sought-after spot no matter the time of day. Featuring 100 metres of uninterrupted river frontage, once you claim a seat here you won’t want to leave. Arbory is open from 7:30am until late every day. Their cocktail menu includes hot and cold options, a Nitro Espresso Martini on tap and cocktail jugs of Pimms and Aperol Spritz to share among friends – how very European.
Located above polēpolē in Melbourne’s CBD, Glamp stays true to its name – a combination of ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’ in one drinking experience. Sip on cocktails and nibble on African-inspired snacks while sitting on benches under safari-style canvas. You won’t find classic cocktails at Glamp. Instead, try the Foxy Brown: pink grapefruit-infused tequila, honey, mint and habanero chill (you choose the heat). Or Jungle Juice, with gin, green capsicum, basil and lemon.
Madame Brussels is one of Melbourne’s most well-known rooftop bars. Modelled after a quintessentially British garden party, Madame Brussels is known for its jugs of cocktails. There’s Madame’s Fruity Double D Cups, sangria and Lady Liberty. Described as the ‘Hillary of the drink world’, the latter includes tequila (to make you glow), triple sec, pomegranate and pineapple. It’s the perfect place to spend a sunny Sunday with cocktail-loving friends.
Eau de Vie is a cocktail bar straight out of 1920s prohibition America. It even has a Whiskey Room secretly hiding behind a bookcase. The cocktail menu at Eau de Vie is inspired by theatres around the world. Shadow Play is an Asian-inspired selection, with a particularly delicious cocktail called Black Lantern, consisting of whiskey, coconut, red bean milk, salt and sesame oil. Eau de Vie also organises cocktail masterclasses and a five-course degustation menu with cocktail pairings.
Lily Blacks is for ‘true cocktail aficionados’. Cocktails on the menu here include the Fig Jam, with lavender butter Havana rum, Mancino vermouth, cream and figgy pudding bitters; and Simian Sling, which combines rum with fruity flavours. The team behind Lily Blacks own a few Melbourne establishments including Double Happiness, a hole-in-the-wall cocktail bar that’s decorated with Chinese-Communist propaganda.
One part of renowned chef Shannon Bennett’s Melbourne food empire, Lui Bar is located on Level 55 of the Rialto Building. With the best views of any cocktail bar in the CBD, the exclusive venue has a strict dress code and opulent interior. This includes a custom-made bar, as well as a ‘chandelier’ of transparent clouds made from residual plastic designed by Mikala Dwyer. The cocktails at Lui Bar are innovative, including the Macadamia Martini that goes through a ‘fat-washing process’, and a Negroni served over a sphere of ice.
Lustre is Melbourne’s first cocktail and dessert bar, which even combines the two to make memorable cocktails in a cone. Yes, you can sip your favourite cocktail from a waffle cone with a chocolate coated interior. Cocktails in a cone include the Choc Berry: Chambord, raspberry puree and hot chocolate, or the Hazelnut: Frangelico, honey and milk. Enjoy your cocktail on the heated balcony, which overlooks Flinders Lane. Lustre is proud to support local up-and-coming music talent as well, with a DJ on Friday night and live music on Sundays.
1806 was the year that defined the cocktail, as it was first described in The Balance and Columbian Repository. 1806 the cocktail bar has firmly earned its place as one of Melbourne’s best cocktail bars. It won Tales of the Cocktail’s World’s Best Cocktail Menu in 2008, less than a year after opening. The long list of cocktails at 1806 each have their own story and originate from a different era. There’s Irwin S Cobb’s Julep from the 19th century, the Charlie Chaplin cocktail from 1920s New York, and Penicillin, a tasty cocktail created this century in Melbourne.
Designed by Jesse Judd, Loop Roof is a rooftop cocktail bar in Melbourne’s CBD. It was constructed to handle Melbourne’s erratic weather, with a retractable awning system, heating in the winter and a subtle misting system for summer. Award-winning bartenders have created the cocktail list at Loop Roof, which features a blended G&T; the Token Beer Cocktail with sour IPA, mandarin liqueur and pineapple vinegar; and the Grown Up Fanta with gin, blood orange and sparkling wine.
Boilermaker House describes itself as a ‘blues-filled temple devoted to malt whisky, craft beer and delicious cocktails’. Although there are over 900 whiskies available, we’re here to talk about the cocktail list. The cocktails are divided into sections, like herbaceous and bittersweet, complex and boozy, and fruity and fun. If visiting with four or more friends try the Cloud Nine Punch, which includes rum, gin, cognac, sherry, citrus oleo saccharum, vanilla and cream served in a miniature keg. You’ll think you’re on cloud nine after sampling this concoction.