Best Basement Bars in Melbourne

Updated October 18th, 2022


When the temperature plummets and rooftop bars are out of the question, Melburnians are spoilt for choice when it comes to cosy, underground bars brimming with good food and booze. Escape the chill and sip a candle-lit cocktail at one of these subterranean spots this weekend.

  • Descend a dark spiral staircase into this theatrical basement cocktail bar. Wrapped in a cocoon of timber, it’s the recipient of some major international design awards. But don’t let the incredible space distract you from the drinks – expect smoke, bubbles and plenty of flair.

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  • Walk down the nondescript staircase and let your eyes adjust. There’s no natural light at this New York-inspired French bistro – that’s why it’s so easy to lose track of time here. It's also home to one of Melbourne's most famous late-night burgers.

  • Lively cocktails and refined snacks are on the cards at this dark and daring basement bar. But it’s really the wine list you come here for – it’s an adventure in unfamiliar regions and varietals, and focuses on biodynamic and sustainable drops.

  • Inside Japanese fine diner Akaiito, follow the luminous red thread downstairs to find this subterranean bar serving pan-Asian snacks and low-waste cocktails.

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  • Moody blues and dark spirits rule at this cavernous, below-ground bar. Descend the stairs on Driver Lane for an extensive cocktail list, short-order French snacks and fancy toasties served till extra late. Or proceed to the intimate whisky cellar for a private tasting.

  • Fall From Grace is the aptly-named cellar bar hiding beneath State of Grace, a classic Melbourne bar with big old-world energy. A sliding bookcase reveals a dimly lit den with a gothic speakeasy vibe and killer cocktails.

  • This dim, characterful basement serves a wide range of proper tacos until 3am every night of the week. Do you even need to know more? Okay: there are over 70 mezcals and 20 tequilas on the back bar.

  • There are few surprises in a place called Gin Palace. This specialist basement bar has been shaking since ’97, with a page of its extensive menu devoted to Martinis. Its combo of velvet, dim lights and plush seating hasn’t aged a day.

  • A Black Swan-esque ballerina guards the entrance to Trinket, a hive of boozy snacks and hefty cocktails – with another bar hiding underneath.

  • Located in the basement of the Punch Lane building, casual small bar Juliet champions female winemakers, distillers and cheese producers from Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

  • The “mischievous little brother” to Seamstress upstairs is so small and dimly lit, it feels like it could be anywhere in the world. Rest assured, the bartenders know what they’re doing here – and they do it with a total lack of pretension.

  • The George on Collins is an upmarket, all-day venue occupying the basement the Georges Building in town. Come for Southeast Asian flavours and contemporary techniques served in a stylish, heritage-listed space.

  • The Moat is more than just the Wheeler Centre's bar and eatery. It’s an intimate, below-ground bunker of Mediterranean flavours, good books and better wine.