These days, top bars are more reminiscent of kitchens. Menus can change week-to-week depending on the availability of fresh ingredients, intelligent experimentation is encouraged and good knife skills are a must. That same rigour means classic cocktails are also better than they've ever been.

It’s good news for drinkers, whether you love a Negroni, Old Fashioned or an of-the-moment creation. Better news still: Melbourne has some of the best bars in the world.

These are our favourites, ranging from casual spots, to table service venues where the staff wears waistcoats. But without fail, they all know how to mix an excellent drink.

Related guides:
Best Hidden Bars in Melbourne
Best Whisky Bars in Melbourne
Best Wine Bars in Melbourne
Best Beer Bars in Melbourne

Nick and Nora's

Across five rooms and three balconies, indulge in theatrical cocktails bubbling with liquid nitrogen, tropical boozy yuzu-pineapple punch bowls for four (served in a huge bronze swan), champagne towers, ridiculously large 15-litre bottles of Mumm, and fancy canapés.

80 Collins Street, Melbourne

The Everleigh

You won't find a greater attention to detail anywhere. The venue even has its own ice company.

1 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Black Pearl

After a 2015 refurb, this old classic is looking better than ever.

304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Above Board

Finding this secretive, 16-seat cocktail bar is half the fun.

Level 1 306 Smith Street (access through Chopper Lane), Collingwood


1806: the year the word "cocktail" was first defined in print.

169 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Bar Americano

Matt Bax's aperitif-focussed bar.

20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne

Bad Frankie

Excepting three tequilas, every spirit here is Australian. Go on, be a patriot.

141 Greeves Street, Fitzroy

Eau De Vie

Before the EDV team opened Boilermaker House, this classy bar was the focal point for its whisky obsession.

1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne


A retro-futurist Viking dining hall filled with handmade axes and whole-beast cooking.

106-112 Hardware Street, Melbourne


Submerged in a neon-lavender glow, this 22-seat cyberpunk grotto has KISS on the stereo, highball cocktails from one of Melbourne’s best, and charcoal-grilled skewers from a chef who’s spent time at Momofuku Seiobo and The Town Mouse.

Rear 191A Smith Street, Fitzroy


Drinks here include a boozy smoked-pear soda, and gin with jasmine and plum. Get yours alongside hibachi-grilled seafood.

Ella, Melbourne Central Corner Latrobe and Elizabeth Streets, Melbourne


If you haven't had a drink here, you're barely a Melburnian.

First Floor, Curtin House 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Bar Margaux

Walk down the nondescript staircase and let your eyes adjust. There’s no natural light at this bistro – that’s why it’s so easy to lose track of time.

Basement 111 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne


Opulence meets wartime misery at this bar with two faces.

2nd floor (please ring the bell) 16 Corrs Lane, Melbourne


Above American barbeque spot Cheek, this pretty cocktail bar has four happy hours a day and serves Sichuan fried-chicken sandwiches until 3am. Further up, there’s a rooftop bar with city views.

Levels 2 and 3 301 Swanston Street, Melbourne


Killer Italo-American cocktails to match the food.

421 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Boilermaker House

900 whiskies and counting, with beers to match.

209-211 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Lay Low Bar

Expert cocktails and Greek snacks hidden inside a clothing store.

93 Buckley Street, Seddon

Boston Sub / Jungle Boy

Push through the back freezer door to find this hidden den of top-notch drinks.

96 Chapel Street, Windsor

Goldilocks Bar

A hidden rooftop bar, with an emphasis on cocktails and comfort.

Level 4 264 Swanston Street, Melbourne


If salarymen drink it, it's here.

First Floor 1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Lily Blacks

Check out the ridiculous wall of flavoured bitters.

12 Meyers Place, Melbourne

Union Electric Bar

A two-storey, indoor-outdoor cocktail bar with an emphasis on fresh fruit and veg.

13 Heffernan Lane, Melbourne

Lui Bar at Vue de Monde

What would you expect from a bar run by Vue de Monde?

Level 55 Rialto Towers 525 Collins St, Melbourne

Mesa Verde

Climb to the top of Curtin House, and you're in another tequila heaven.

Level 6, Curtin House 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne

New Gold Mountain

Another skilful, Asian-themed member of the Lily Blacks family.

21 Liverpool Street, Melbourne

Romeo Lane

Another intimate CBD bolthole.

1A Crossley Street, Melbourne

Gin Palace

This plush drinking den has been running since 1997 and remains at the top of the game.

10 Russell Place, Melbourne


It's a themed bar, but the drinks are far from gimmicky.

Basement 113 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Seamstress Cocktail Bar

The high-class counterpart of downstairs bar Sweatshop.

113 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne


The Melbourne Supper Club's casual rooftop counterpart.

Level 2 161 Spring Street, Melbourne

The Melbourne Supper Club

Sink into a weathered Chesterfield and order from the incredibly knowledgable staff.

Level 1 161 Spring Street, Melbourne

Whisky and Alement

Melbourne's first great whisky bar.

270 Russell Street, Melbourne

Kitty Somerset

Bring a book, or challenge some mates to a game of Scrabble.

565 High Street, Northcote

Bar None

Good cocktails in Camberwell? Believe it.

72 Auburn Parade, Camberwell

Joe Taylor

Experience counts, and the staff here has stacks.

7 Errol Street, North Melbourne