Don’t order your usual, try a drink with a difference this winter at these destination bars where the mixologists are getting creative with the cocktail shakers.
Pretend winter just isn’t happening with a trip to the tropics at Hana. This Little Collins Street spot is a Hawaiian cocktail bar and restaurant, inspired by the sense of adventure felt driving along Maui’s Hana highway. Be transported to the warm air, crashing waves and rainforest of Maui by ordering the bar’s most popular drink, Honolua Bay Sharknado. It’s served in giant shark head, providing Instagrammable moments galore.
A spicy and stylish little Vietnamese hotspot with a tempting menu of tasty bites, Uncle also boasts quite the cocktail menu. Their signature Pho-Groni usually draws the crowds, being a Negroni with pho spice-infused West Winds gin, but they’ve recently introduced the New York Sour. From their upstairs vantage at the top end of Collins Street, you could almost imagine yourself sipping this bourbon concoction overlooking Central Park on a cold Manhattan day.
You thought outdoor, floating bars on the River were just for the summer? Think again as Arbory Bar creates a cocktail list to banish winter chills. You and two buddies can club together for a Hot Buttered Bundy to share, made from Bundaberg small batch, house-made butterscotch, spiced butter and ginger snap biscuit. Try the Peppermint Patty featuring peppermint schnapps, yellow chartreuse and hot chocolate, or the decadent Spiked Chai – Johnnie Walker Black label, Frangelico and chai powder.
Beneath Driver Lane
Shut the door on the frosty winds outside and descend into the inviting scene of Beneath Driver Lane, where an authentic blues soundtrack sets the mood. Order French bar snacks and set yourself up with a Puritan mixed drink. It’s strong and spicy, with bitter orange-flavoured yellow chartreuse; it will warm you from the inside out.
Like moths to a flame, we find ourselves being drawn to Common Man and their pop-up Fire Garden on the lawn this winter. The bespoke menu includes Racey Rosé mulled wine of vanilla and strawberries and cream with macerated strawberries, or try a smoked Aberlour whisky with a chaser of hot cinnamon cider. There’s also a Cabernet mulled wine for those who like their reds more full-bodied. Live music and entertainment is also on offer, plus a bespoke menu highlighting the use of smokers and rotisserie on offer.
At the top end of the city just off Bourke Street and housed in a Victorian building dating back to 1857, Romeo Lane is an intimate bar with a crackling fire and plenty of atmosphere. Drop in for A Bee’s Kiss, a delicious combo of Jamaican rum, honey and cream, or opt for a classic Hot Toddy, with scotch, hot water, honey and lemon. Feel virtuous as this bar takes sustainability seriously with metal straws only.
The word cocktail was coined back in 1806, and hence the name of this award-winning bar with prohibition-era decor and a mighty reputation for classic cocktails done to perfection. Go the Tom & Jerry for a creamy winter eggnog.
Loch & Key
Let the experienced mixology crew here at Loch & Key treat you to a bespoke cocktail. They’ll respond to your every whim with a drink to suit your taste and mood. Popular tipples include the zesty Zombie, with white and dark rum, overproof rum, lime, pineapple and grapefruit juice, orange and passionfruit, all set alight. Or try the cool and sweet Clover Leaf with gin, mint, dry vermouth and raspberry syrup. A tactical toastie goes down well, opt for Tandoori chicken with serracho and pickles.
Sporting speccy views of the city lights from its Southgate location, Waterslide Bar (behind Hamer Hall on the south side of the Yarra River), has a heated balcony that beckons, as does the cocktail list. Get around the Cereal Milk, a grown up twist on cornflakes that uses Bacardi rum to add a little heat. Or try something deep and decadent with their Blaquiri, which uses black stout reduction, lime juice and Bacardi Carta Blanca to create the ultimate after dark drink.
Eau de Vie
With a massive backlit bottle wall to get your attention, jazz vibes and dim lighting creating the mood, Eau de Vie has a creative cocktail list with a sense of the theatrical. According to Elite Traveller, their Zacapa Blazer (or Old Fashioned) is one of the best cocktails in the world. This blend of rum, whisky, scotch ale and PX syrup can be served hot or cold. Or go for a La Nonna where whiskey, orange zest, spices, oloroso, coffee agave, bitters and flamed anise smoke evoke Nonna’s slightly boozy kitchen with rich baking smells and home fires warmth.
Tucked upstairs on Little Bourke Street behind the Princess Theatre, Vamos is a very Melbourne take on a traditional Latin American and Spanish tapas bar and restaurant. The drinks ain’t too shabby either, with aromatic numbers like the Senorita Rosita with fresh strawberries and sweet vermouth. Get a kick out of Chilli in Pink, with birds eye chilli, vodka, triple sec, lychee juice and crème de Mure. Friday night music line up features Brazilian jazz, while Sunday evenings are Spanish Flamenco instrumentals and dancing.
Please drink responsibly