Best Cocktail Bars in the CBD

Updated 11 months ago

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Sometimes, beer and wine just don't cut it. In those times, you need cocktails. Be it a well-made Negroni, or a complex, multi-layered sipper, Melbourne has a wealth of places to partake.

These are our favourites, ranging from casual spots, to table service venues where the staff wear waistcoats. But without fail, they all know their spirits.

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

  • Opulence meets wartime misery at this bar with two faces.

  • 600 whiskies and counting, with beers to match.

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  • Most people come for the Spanish food. But you could just as easily come for the drinks alone.

  • The sister bar to Lily Black's has a cheeky Chairman Mao theme, but sacrifices none of the skill.

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

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  • The name says it all.

  • Bottled cocktails waiting by the jukebox in Chinatown.

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  • A connoisseur's dream.

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

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

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

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  • The high-class counterpart of downstairs bar Sweatshop.

  • The Melbourne Supper Club's casual rooftop counterpart.

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

  • More fresh fruit and veg than a green grocer.

  • Melbourne's first great whisky bar.

  • Evoking a lost piece of Melbourne’s pre-colonial landscape, this tiny bar inside an ornate, heritage-listed space has a striking indoor waterfall that doubles as a back-bar. Come for vibrant cocktails and a seasonal menu of snacks celebrating native ingredients.

  • Shane Delia’s cocktail bar, right next to his flagship Maha restaurant. Enter for classic cocktails turned on their head by a world-class bartender and a cracking bar menu of beefy borek buns, taramasalata tarts and a saucy lamb sanga.

  • This tranquil bolthole amid the bustle of Chinatown is built on the motto “drink less, drink better”. It’s pouring small-batch whiskies and a tight list of cocktails. Why not stay for just one – or two?