The moment you think another bar couldn’t possibly be squeezed into this city of sophisticated tippling, Melbourne surprises with a few more. If you want to catch up on the city’s new arrivals from the past few months – here are some places to start.
StoryVille is another new bar inspired by the classics. Step inside and wander through your childhood – with a glass of something 18+ in hand of course. The decor is borne of fairytales and fables: giant glowing toadstools, big old gnarly tree branches and super-sized book spines. As for what’s in your glass, choose your own adventure from both youthful and adult reading. Will you get that magical Harry Potter feeling with a Polyjuice, or finally taste the Moloko Plus from A Clockwork Orange?
One of the city’s original cool bars, Punch Lane now has a little sister down in the basement, Juliet Melbourne. She’s also a sophisticated lady focused on fine wine and food, but her style is more retro-industrial. Think whitewashed brick walls, exposed pipes and 60s leather sofas. Then think about that menu of small plates. Fancy some choice raclette and a ridiculously good red, or decadent desserts with classic cocktails? Strictly a late-week-evening venue, with live jazz on Thursdays.
Newly opened at Melbourne Central, Diesel Bar and Eatery offers all-day dining so you can grab something no matter what meal it is. Start your busy day with a Middle Eastern-inspired breakfast of poached eggs, avocado hummus and pickled turnip on toasted ciabatta. Or end your day with a well-deserved cocktail during their week day happy hour (4-7pm).
One of the city’s most renowned chefs, Guy Grossi, has opened up the potential of the laneway behind his restaurant. Arlechin, his new late-night bar hidden down Mornane Place, is an intimate space with a subterranean atmosphere. Pop by for a quick drink at the marble bar, or settle in with one of their delicious bar snacks. But what to choose: an Italian or Australian red with the bolognaise jaffle?
Melbourne’s everlasting romance with Italy continues at Osteria Ilaria, the new sibling to primo pasta joint Tipo 00 next door. Drop in for an aperitivo and let the bar-side kitchen’s sights and scents reel you in for a very smart casual dinner. After a wine or two, or perhaps a crafty beer or classy cocktail, you’ll be transported by the vibrant European vibe.
The George on Collins
These new kids on the CBD block are joined by The George on Collins. Are you old enough to remember the exclusive Georges department store that used to be here? Or do you only know the legend? Either way, this bar and all-day dining room demands your attention with its contemporary take on classic styles and flavours. Strike a pose with an artful cocktail, or kick back with your choice from the extensive whisky selection.
The classics never go out of style, as the Sofitel hotel’s latest place of refreshment confirms. The Mayfair is inspired by The Stork Club, the dearly departed NYC supper club frequented by the likes of Hemingway and Sinatra. Watch for 21st century celebs while lounging in this city slicker’s leather booths, amid candles and chandeliers. Contemplate caviar and cocktails. Get winsome with the whisky and cheese trolleys. Sashay up to a little something from the late-night menu (good evening, omelette with chicken and truffle gravy!).
Whatever office, store, factory or lab you’re toiling in, hightail it out of there ASAP and head to Docklands’ newest bar. With space for 950 punters, Hightail is made for partying – in style, thanks to Techne Architecture’s sleek, open design. Choose a drink from the 64 taps which feature everything from Australian and international beers to cocktails, then order some of Melbourne’s favourite fast-forward food. Belles Hot Chicken, and food truckers Super Taco and Mr Burger, are literally in the house!
Willows & Wine
Keep heading west and with any luck you will find yourself in Willows & Wine. Quality drinks and snacks are this West Melbourne bar’s cake; shelves of pre-loved books and classic board games are the icing. Curl up with a glass of vino, a cheeseboard and classic novel. Get serious about a game of Monopoly with charcuterie and beer. That’s right, it’s your new home away from home.
Sidling up to the Arts Centre’s Hamer Hall, Bombini Buzz presents a symphony of Australian tipples and fresh, locally sourced produce. Welcoming concert and theatre goers, and anyone else with a taste for the good life, it’s open daily until late. Friday is live-music night, but this riverside cafe-bar is buzzing with happy hour drink specials every day of the week.