Whilst most cities have a designated hotspot for nightlife, Melbourne’s after dark scene stretches across the city; from the beaches of St Kilda to the central suburb of Prahran and the cultural hub of Fitzroy. When searching for a place to enjoy a drink in Melbourne, look no further than these six recommendations.
At the other end of the spectrum of Heartbreaker is The Everleigh. Michael Madrusan’s first bar is all about sophistication - dark wood fixtures are bathed in natural light coming in from large windows, but, when it comes to the drinks, The Everleigh focuses on simple classics made to perfection, and their blends are so popular that you can buy pre-mixed versions online. The goal of The Everleigh is to allow its patrons to enjoy the finer things in life. Alongside cocktails such as the Americano Perfecto (sweet vermouth and Campari topped with a pilsner), The Everleigh offers meals and smaller food options like afternoon tea. Make sure you don’t miss it for a liquid dinner or the start of a wonderful evening.
Just over a mile from The Everleigh, Gin Palace offers an opulent interior hidden behind a stark exterior. With quiet yet lively background music and table service from attentive servers, Gin Palace is a perfect encapsulation of gin-based luxury. As the name implies, gin is the drink of choice. The menu carries a full page of specially crafted martinis followed by a full double-spread of choice gins. Gin is their life and they offer everything from the dry Big Tree to the spicy Karu and the zesty Martin Millers. Other drinks and light refreshments are available but if you consider yourself a gin lover, you can't miss Gin Palace.
Located in the street art and Victorian facades of Fitzroy, The Black Pearl specializes in boozy, indulgent cocktails enjoyed under low lighting, surrounded by charming décor. For a decade and a half, the family-run bar has focused on cultivating the best bartenders in southern Australia to ensure that they challenge your definition of a good cocktail. The menu at the Black Pearl focuses on bold, potent flavours; the Ringleader, for example, is a blend of Johnnie Walker Espresso Roast, Lagavulin 16 whisky, homemade peanut butter liqueur and Cynar. Contained in a small glass and garnished with an ice cube, the cocktail packs a punch and is sure to invigorate you for the rest of the evening. The Black Pearl is often busy, so going earlier in the night is usually a safer bet than leaving it until later, although the bar is open until 3am. However, if you are partying with a big group, you can always book The Attic, the Black Pearl’s upstairs private room. Located in a safe, trendy neighbourhood, the Black Pearl has a fun, friendly atmosphere and is the perfect start to a night out.
For wine lovers, there are few finer places than the City Wine Shop, a bottle shop in the heart of Melbourne, just around the corner from Parliament House. The wines on sale can also be enjoyed at one of the store’s storefront tables along with some delicious dishes prepared in house. The staff know their wine and will happily provide a recommendation. A particular favourite among the staff right now is the 2016 Gerard Raphet Bourgogne Rouge, an intense and delicious French red. The wine falls on the expensive side, but it is well worth paying for. After a long day of sightseeing, there may be no better way to relax than with a plate of saganaki and balsamic vinegar-poached figs, and a cold glass of Moreau-Naudet Chablis Chardonnay.
For the feel of an old school dive bar, look no further than Heartbreaker. With a red neon sign glowing in the dark windows, Michael Madrusan has perfectly encapsulated the dive bar aesthetic. The fast-handed bartenders focus on getting you your cocktail in record speed, meaning that you don’t have to wait too long to enjoy it. The menu is simple and centred around steadfast classics, offering easy-to-make cocktails alongside a small collection of tap beers. However, just because the cocktails are made fast doesn’t mean the staff are trying to hurry you out the door. Everything is designed to keep you around for a couple of rounds - the padded bar edge encourages you to linger and converse, a retro jukebox helps you lose yourself in the atmosphere and a burgundy-felted pool table at the back gives you something to do while you’re there. Heartbreaker offers a unique environment to enjoy a drink and a night out on its own.
Another wine lovers’ paradise is Fitzroy’s Bar Liberty. With its playful and lively atmosphere, it feels like a diner with alcohol. While the place has a fondness for wine, its extensive drinks menu offers limitless possibilities for an entertaining night. Enjoy an Okinawa Sour with cured scallops, basil, koji and green tomatoes; a zesty Prophet’s Rock dry Riesling with Sydney oysters; a Hanky Panky (gin, vermouth, fernet and chamomile) and blackened pork loin, heirloom onions and sorrel, or whatever combination of food and drink you feel like indulging in. By their own admission, Bar Liberty believes in alcohol being enjoyed “alongside delicious food, in a comfortable setting, accompanied by honest hospitality.” During the week, Liberty is open until 10pm, making it the perfect way to start your evening, whilst on Fridays and Saturdays, it doesn’t close until midnight. For good drinks and good food, make your way to Bar Liberty.
Melbourne does drinks right! The city has developed a culture of unique, passionate brewing and mixology, so if you like a good drink and Fixture Travel has brought you to Melbourne, try some of the establishments we have just recommended.
Photos by The Everleigh, Black Pearl, City Wine Shop, Bar Liberty
Written on 2nd April 2019 by Benjamin Mock