There’s no shortage of great bars and restaurants in Melbourne, but sometimes it can be hard to find somewhere that does both jobs well. We’ve compiled a list of 10 restaurants we think have the best cocktail lists in the city.
Grab a spot at the bar overlooking the open kitchen and order an inventive, Asian-inspired cocktail while you watch chefs preparing plates of kingfish; duck bao or the famous lobster rolls. Options include the Supernormal Smash, featuring Tanqueray No. 10, bitters, syrup, or the Blossom Riddle, pairing Don Julio Blanco with blackcurrent liqueur, pineapple and lime.
Nieuw Amsterdam’s cocktail menu is six pages long. One page lists six varieties of Negroni (including a salted-caramel version) alone. Try the S.A.R.S-ERAC, combining Bulleit Bourbon, sarsaparilla liqueur, brown sugar, bitters, smoke with sarsaparilla root, with the chicken jambalaya; yam gnocchi; or fried pickles. All this, combined with its cosy interior and 24-hour license.
Saigon Sally’s motto is that nothing should be taken too seriously. It’s an ethos made obvious with its cocktail list, but that doesn’t mean they’re not aiming high. The Pandan Whizz-Fizz is Tanqueray gin with pandan leaf, citrus, cream and soda. The Charlie Don’t Surf mixes Italian bitters with watermelon, raspberry, mint and chilli. Sit at the bar and enjoy your cocktail with fried chicken ribs; betel-leaf-wrapped kingfish; or its signature scallops.
The emphasis may be on the grape, but the eight cocktails on Neighbourhood Wine’s drinks list are unforgettable. The bar keeps it simple, serving classics, such as Negronis, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, Martinis and the Venetian Spritz. Perfect for those who don’t want to be overwhelmed by choice (or who simply know exactly what they want), the drinks are also perfect paired with the restaurant’s classic fare, such as bavette steak with chips, charcuterie or market fish.
If you’re looking for something refined, Saint Crispin hits all the right notes. This much-lauded Smith Street restaurant is dimly lit, atmospheric and a great place to take a date. Many of the cocktails are light and on the citrus-y side – take for example the expertly-balanced Breakfast Mar'tea'ni – gin, triple sec, lemon juice – or the Saffron Negroni – gin, elderflower liqueur, and French aperitif - to perfectly accompany what is among the city’s best occasion dining.
The low light of the Longrain bar beckons the curious, and produces cocktails ranging from simple (the Caiprioska with Ketel One vodka and fresh lime), to complex (the Circa 1920 with Tanqueray 10, elderflower liqueur, earl grey syrup, fresh lemon, egg white, bitters). Staff are just as able to recommend a Thai snack (maybe oysters with spicy nam jim) to go with your drink, or a cocktail to go with your dinner.
This moody, well-designed Japanese basement restaurant could be one of the city’s best places for a late-night snack and cocktail. The bar, where you can sit and enjoy a Sake Mojito and a plate of corn fritters, is almost 30-metres long, and the Blade Runner-style wall projections are mesmerising.
Café Di Stasio
A classic restaurant deserves classic cocktails and Café Di Stasio (and the next door Bar Di Stasio) delivers above and beyond the call of duty. The main feature of this fabulous Italian restaurant – beyond the impeccable service and excellent Italian fare – is the marble bar. It’s the perfect place to appreciate a house-made, lime-infused gin, or a perfectly-balanced Negroni. Order a single piece of gnocchi from the food menu to accompany your drink, or order a whole meal and cocktails to match.
Green Park’s light, airy surroundings make it the perfect place for an afternoon cocktail. They’re available from 12pm on weekends, which is a great time to try the Mexican Breakfast cocktail. It’s made with tequila, apricot, lemon and house-made marmalade, and goes beautifully with Green Park’s cider braised pork dish.
The cocktails at this justly-famed all-day eating house features light, innovative takes on classics such as the Originale (made with Ketel One vodka, Campari, tonic and fresh lime), which make perfect apparetivo fare. If you find yourself a little full after tackling Cumulus’ eight-hour lamb shoulder, there is also a considered range of digestifs and whiskies.
This article was updated on March 20.
This article is presented in partnership with World Class.