Some of the city’s best bars aren’t just hidden down little laneways. Sometimes you’ve got to find a hidden door too. That drink enjoyed on the other side will be all the better for the adventure.
The main bar on Trinket’s street level is all bright, sleek, vintage-inspired glamour. In the basement is another, more dimly lit bar made for secret rendezvous. How do you get there? Follow the lead of those young adventurers in Narnia and open that wardrobe. Push back the clothes hangers, step inside and down the stairs to treats much more mature than the White Witch’s Turkish delight. Like The Gem cocktail – perfect for this hidden gem.
Imagine yourself in a kooky mystery novel at Island Somewhere bar. Stand in the right spot so the bookshelf slides away to reveal a secret passage leading up a winding staircase. Welcome to Pinball Paradise, Australia’s first dedicated pinball bar, which has grown-up drinks and lots of machines old and new. Score!
A four-storey party palace, including two floors of karaoke and a weather-proof rooftop, Heroes is the Fancy Hank’s team’s hawker-style barbecue bar. Want to be the hero of your crew by leading the way? Look for the Blade Runner-style neon sign hanging above the lift inside Bourke Street’s Nitro Lab ice-cream shop. Kanpai!
State of Grace
Former Collins Street favourite State of Grace has been resurrected on King Street with a mix of chandeliered splendour and speakeasy eccentricity. If you’re hungry try the dining room’s smart-casual Euro dishes. Thirsty? Discover the cocktail bar hidden behind a trick bookshelf. Pull down the book on the right and they’ll all slide away to reveal the stairs leading down to Fall from Grace.
New Gold Mountain
This Chinatown bar’s reminiscent of secluded places of ill repute like opium dens, which thrived here during the 19th century Gold Rush. It starts with the entrance: a random security door in a brick wall reveals the stairs to New Gold Mountain. With moody paper lantern lighting and spaces divided by beaded curtains, this bar feels naughty but is actually very nice.
In the mood for some Cold War espionage thrills? Walk down a narrow lane to two carparks, find the door in the brick wall and ring the bell. Step inside Berlin Bar, where Germany’s divided past is reborn in two distinct rooms. Will you have a drink among the West’s kitschy luxury, or the East’s minimalist space with touches of communist propaganda?
An iconic eatery in an unknown laneway tucked behind mysterious neon – Lucy Liu has taken hiding their door to a whole new level. Blink and you’ll miss this little pocket of deliciousness in Oliver Lane.
It’s easy to miss the little dogleg alley off an arcade off a lane that is Presgrave Place. Found it? Well keep those eyes peeled, because Melbourne’s tiniest standalone bar is hidden among the street art. Bar Americano only has room for 10 standing patrons, so arrive early if you want to sample their classy old-school cocktails.
Have a Stranger Things night out, without the malevolent monster, at Bartronica, where arcade games and adult refreshments unite. But first you’ve got to find that obscure door leading down some stairs to this basement packed with classic machines. They rotate, so you might find yourself high scoring on Street Fighter or a Daytona racing simulator. The recent refurb includes a life-size Mario Tunnel leading to a dedicated Mario Kart room. As the little Italian speedster says, let’s-a go!
Want more inside tips? Get your Insider’s Guide for $10 lunch spots, to secret summer rooftops, prefect picnics and more.