This city loves hidden bars, and if they’re little, all the better. Get that exclusive feeling with a bevvy in hand at a few small spots that are big on sophistication.
Little Lon Distilling Co
In a small 19th century cottage that has somehow survived the skyscraper development around it, discover what’s probably Australia’s smallest distillery. Time it right though, because there’s only a tiny window when Little Lon Distilling Co opens to the public. On Friday nights it becomes a bar, with room for just 20 patrons. Squeeze in for a taste of their gins, with a side order of colourful history about this once notorious neighbourhood.
Blink and you’ll miss the little dogleg alley off an arcade off a lane that is Presgrave Place. Found it? Well keep those eyes peeled, because one of Melbourne’s tiniest bars 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, classic cocktails.
A lot of Melbourne’s tiniest bars are tucked down laneways, but Chuckle Park essentially is a laneway. It’s like a kooky little urban camp ground, complete with vintage caravan bar, outdoor furniture, faux flora and magical lanterns. Food is Spanish inspired and best enjoyed with drinks. Try the Chuckleberry Finn boozy hot choc if it’s cold, or fruity sangria to share when the sun’s shining.
Robot Sushi & Bar
One of Melbourne’s laneway trendsetters, Robot Sushi & Bar opened in 2000 and is still going Gigantor strong – even if it’s Astroboy-sized. With Japanese pop-culture decor and free Tuesday anime screenings, it’s like a tiny slice of Shinjuku. The drink list and bar snacks also look to the Land of the Rising Sun, so settle in and escape to Tokyo. Kanpai!
Crossley Street was called Romeo Lane in the 19th century, when this pocket of the CBD was Melbourne’s red-light district. Today, behind one of the alleyway’s sneaky doors, is a bar named after that old romantic name. A snug heritage space of whitewashed walls, sombre wood and old-school cocktails, Romeo Lane is a hidey-hole far removed from modern Melbourne’s mayhem.
Le Bar Europeen
The bar at Glowgolf Docklands must be the smallest in town, if not the world. Le Bar Europeen is just 2.6 square metres, with room for four patrons – and seats for only two of them. As the name suggests, the drinks list is a Euro zone, including Greek Mythos beer and Old Speckled Hen bitter from England. The décor – what little there is – looks to the old bars of France and Italy.
Beneath Driver Lane
This subterranean den tucked behind the GPO and below, you guessed it, Driver Lane, just doubled down on their cosy basement game. Ask for high-end liquor (like $40-$180 a nip) at Beneath Driver Lane, and you’ll be shown to The Benromach Whisky Vault. It’s a moodily lit nook with three stools around an oak barrel, where your guide gives you the lowdown on your selection. Plus complimentary Benromach tastings – nice!
Please drink responsibly.