Drinking and learning rarely go hand in hand.

But tonight in Melbourne, 20 free talks from an eclectic pool of academics and creative thinkers will be held across 11 CBD bars.

The event, Raising the Bar, was created in New York in 2014 by a group of students from Columbia and New York University who wanted to share their academic experiences with the public.

It has since been held in London, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Sydney.

“It’s all about giving people access to great thinkers and their ideas in an environment where they can socialise. It’s not a rigid thing, it’s meant to be fun,” says event producer Jon Quidim.

Tonight’s speakers are a mix of international guests and leading talent from Victoria’s top universities, social enterprises and start-ups.

At 1000 £ Bend, founder of Ascension magazine Sasha Sarago and writer Nayuka Gorrie will discuss perceptions of Indigenous beauty.

Tech educator and entrepreneur Will Dayble will talk at Arbory Bar & Eatery about the pros and cons of setting up a colony on Mars – and how we’d get there in the near future.

Other venues holding talks include Lily Blacks, 1806, Bar Ampere, Belleville, Loop Project Space & Bar and Meyers Place, as well as innovation space CityLab.

All talks are free but booking is encouraged. Some sessions are now sold out. Book here.

Talks will be held at 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 8.30pm and 10pm, and will run for 30 to 40 minutes, followed by question and answer time with the audience.