If you are looking for a bit of kitsch, tongue-in-cheek fun, there is no better place than Madame Brussels rooftop bar. The entrance is tucked away, but once you’ve made your way up to the roof top you enter another world, reminiscent of something out of The Mad Hatters Tea Party. Madame Brussels is named after a ‘Madame’ of old, famous for her eccentric lifestyle. The current owner, the equally outrageous but personable Miss Pearls, has her staff dressed in tennis gear, serving jugs of cocktails to customers sitting at tables with umbrellas on fake grass. The Drinkipoos (as she calls the punch style cocktails) are inventive and fun. Substantial snacks are also available such as toasted sandwiches, dips and breads, French cheese plates and even cupcakes. There is outdoor seating available too, which offers breath-taking views over the city, and there are heaters and blankets provided for outdoor socializing.
Eau de Vie
Behind an unmarked door, hidden away in Melbourne’s Malthouse alley, is the intimate Art Deco-inspired Eau de Vie bar, where the cocktail preparation is pure theatre. Modelled on a 1920’s speakeasy, with jazz music playing in the background, there is even a dedicated whisky room hidden behind a fake bookcase, with the most unbelievable whisky menu. If you choose to sit at the Main bar, you can enjoy the show and watch the cocktail preparation (blow torches and liquid nitrogen abound). Or visit with friends and book a five course cocktail menu at the degustation table bar. For those who need a bit of sustenance with all those cocktails and whisky, there is an extensive range of cheeses and charcuterie as well as more substantial dishes. A real high-brow, sophisticated and fun night out.
To get to this Polish inspired bar you have to enter through a hidden side door, head up several flights of stairs past modern wall art, and you will find yourself in a lofty space of exposed bricks and beams with a fireplace at one end for cozy winter evenings. With limited seating, try to get a table with a view out of the large windows and people watch over the outdoor bar next door. As well as the longest menu of cocktails, beers and spirits to be seen in Melbourne, they also serve fantastic Polish food such as Little Lebowski (mini pulled pork burgers), Piroshki (sour cream pastry parcels), and polish donuts for dessert. And there’s also great live music events laid on throughout the year, which will always ensure you have a great time at Ferdydurke.
This is an effortlessly classy venue. With it’s wood panelling, and red velvet chairs, 1806 has a beautiful mezzanine allowing you to sit upstairs and watch the show: bar tenders downstairs mixing cocktails. As for the name, 1806 was the year the term cocktail was invented, so their extensive cocktail menu will educate you on their history. Booking here is essential and you can have a cocktail master class at you table, which incidentally is strictly table service. In case you are wondering, shared plates and snacks are also available.
Opened in 2013 by brilliantly artistic owners, Bar Ampere is a Gothic style bar specialising in the mother of all spirits: absinthe. Exposed power cords, bare bulbs dangling from ceilings and graffitied concrete walls make up the décor, and the central bar has an illuminated wall made from wine bottles. Explore the eerie Swamp Room, with ‘creepers’ adorned with fairy lights hanging down the walls, complete with a secret escape route to the nearby Gin Palace. There is an impressive array of aperitifs, digestifs, wines and cocktails, and food and drink are served until 3am on weekdays. But if you just want to chill, sit out in the lofty covered alcove seating area and watch the world go by.
Bomba Rooftop Bar
A ‘bomba’ is a Spanish workers bar with simple tapas to share. This stylish, small but perfectly formed roof top bar is exactly that, but with an unmissable birdseye view of Melbourne. Downstairs is a restaurant with amazing food and bookings are essential here, but walk ins are possible for the bar. The wine list focuses on Spanish varieties from small artisan producers, many of which are new to the Australian market. Cocktails, sherry and vermouth also available. Bomba Rooftop Bar is a fun and happening place, perfect to unwind after a stressful day at the office.
The Lui Bar
This spectacular venue occupies the top level of the magnificent Rialto Building. At some 230 metres high, there are breathtaking views of up to 60km on a clear day. More informal than the restaurant, Lui Bar still has a fairly strict dress code and you must be approved by the door man at ground level before being allowed in. The interior is elegant, sophisticated and modern with a dark bar taking centre stage, courtesy of the back drop of Melbourne’s skyline through the huge windows. Stylish glass floor lights, clear perspex ceiling art, gold chaise lounges and armchairs complete the sumptuous décor. Check out the fun pop-up menu featuring detailed Australian-inspired cocktails – order the Lola Montez Spider Dance Fizz (named after the famous 19th century erotic dancer, and made with French champagne and seasonal fruits) and watch it being mixed. A simple bar snack menu is available too, including Beluga caviar for the truly discerning. Have a drink with friends on the truly amazing observation deck and gaze at the sensational view, or visit on a Sunday and chill out to laid back live music.
A hidden door with GP written in gold lettering marks the entrance to this basement den. The theme is slightly decadent, yet stylishly opulent. Leather armchairs, gold loungers, animal hide throws, dim lighting and low background music all adds to the laid back vibe of the Gin Palace. Polite, uniformed wait staff busy themselves at tables as there is no seating at the elegant blue lit bar. As you would expect, the gin list here is truly international, with gin events throughout the year. Martinis, cocktails and wines also available, and drinks are served in huge balloon glasses.
This suggestive bar’s name belies the reality – sadly for some there aren’t actually any GoGo dancers here. You can either enter this basement retreat directly from the road or from the excellent Thai Restaurant Chin Chin upstairs. GoGo is dark and cosy with subdued lighting with lots of private corners as well as a large seated bar area. The atmosphere is upbeat and happening, with DJs performing popular hits at the weekends. GoGo’s Little Black Book holds the innovative four seasons menu: superb Thai influenced cocktails which can be shared by the carafe, as well as a small Asian-themed Beer list. A selection of bar food from Chin Chin is also available.
This reliable and beloved drinking and dining establishment is no easy place to find, half way up a rather innocuous looking building. Cookie has been cleverly divided into three spaces, and combines a beer hall, an incredibly good value Thai restaurant and a balconette area with city view french doors for romantic evenings. The Beer Hall boasts over 200 local and international craft beers on tap or by the bottle, a staggering 88 page wine list and plenty of cocktails. Always packed, seemingly chaotic, but surprisingly organised, Cookie is an unique place that is noisy, fun and full of energy and will appeal to a very broad range of people, both young and not so young.