At a great bar, the atmosphere needs to be just right – whether that means quiet and moody or buzzing and booming is up to you – and the drinks have to be top-notch. But the best bars in Melbourne all go beyond those two fundamentals, and each offers something unique that separates them from the pack.

Some have food menus that complement and elevate the drinks (bonus points if everything can be eaten one-handed). Others are hidden in plain sight down some of our most famous laneways, or proudly take full advantage of their rooftops and their views out over the city.

These bars are also changing the way we drink. Whether they’re applying restaurant-like rigour to their cocktail crafting or developing lists with just as much emphasis on low- and no-alcohol drinks, each of these places will be setting the agenda for how we drink for years to come.

If you’re wondering why some of your favourites didn’t make the cut, check out our more specialised guides below:

Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne
Best Wine Bars in Melbourne
Best Hidden Bars in Melbourne
Best Rooftop Bars in Melbourne

The Everleigh

This cocktail bar's eye for detail is second to none – it even has an in-house ice company to ensure every drink gets the perfect block.

1 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Black Pearl

This suave cocktail bar is consistently recognised in global polls, and for good reason. There's no drink the staff here can't make to perfection.

304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Heartbreaker

Pre-batched cocktails and classic rock on the jukebox – there’s only one result here.

234A Russell Street, Melbourne

Peaches

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

Angel Music Bar

An audiophile playground for celebrated restaurateur Con Christopoulos that serves up lobster mac’n’cheese with a side of sub-bass frequencies.

12 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Section 8

A container bar in Chinatown.

27-29 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

Meyers Place

One of Melbourne's first laneway bars, Meyers Place Bar is a simple space with an intelligent aspect.

7 24 Crossley Street, Melbourne

Bar Romantica

The late-night bar that replaced a pizza institution pays respect to its legacy, and has an atmosphere of romance.

52 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Prudence

A Victoria Street classic, with decades of lived-in, kitschy charm.

368 Victoria Street, North Melbourne

Romeo Lane

This handsome CBD cocktail bar is for lovers of low-lit drinking.

1A Crossley Street, Melbourne

Whisky and Alement

With a massive selection and knowledgeable staff, this whisky bar rivals some of the best in the world.

270 Russell Street , Melbourne

Bad Frankie

The first bar in Melbourne – and still the best – to ditch all international spirits in favour of a 100 per cent Australian list.

141 Greeves Street, Fitzroy

Leonard’s House of Love

Casual bar vibes meet professional house party.

3 Wilson Street, South Yarra

City Wine Shop

A traditional Italian all day bistro and wine shop.

159 Spring Street, Melbourne
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Bar Americano

This walk-in, standing-room-only bar blends American hustle with European service.

20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne

Siglo

Light up a cigar, order a cocktail and enjoy the unrivalled views of Spring Street and Parliament House.

Level 2 161 Spring Street, Melbourne

Arlechin

Whether it’s spaghetti, duck liver parfait or tiramisu ice-cream pops, the Grossi family’s new venture will guarantee you’ll be eating (and drinking) in style, post midnight.

Mornane Place, Melbourne

Hats & Tatts

A down-and-dirty frat house with a fine-tuned booze library.

78 Cecil, South Melbourne

Carwyn Cellars

Competition is fierce, but we feel comfortable calling this the best beer bar in Melbourne.

877 High Street, Thornbury

Gerald's Bar

A cosy local in Rathdowne Village where you can eat, drink and play records.

386 Rathdowne St, Carlton North

Lulie

One of the friendliest, most relaxed bars in town.

225 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

The Shady Lady

Like drinking at your cool grandma’s house.

36 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

Paradise Alley

A three-in-one warehouse space in Collingwood: pool, South American snacks, a deli, cocktails and more.

Paradise Alley & Little Latin Lucy 25 Easey Street, Collingwood

LongPlay

Danish minimalism meets Italian wine bar. With a cinema.

318 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North