Melbourne would be a very different place today if not for a small piece of legislation passed in 1994, which allowed bars to operate without serving food. This was a revelation for a city still living in the shadow of the temperance movement.

The law was passed for the benefit of the newly built Crown Casino, but it also drew young, cash-strapped bar owners to Melbourne’s dingy laneways, starting an unintentional revolution. The setup is familiar today: turn a few unlit corners, pass a stinking dumpster, push through an unmarked door and suddenly, you're in a plush cocktail den.

Even with advent of the internet, Google Maps and city guides such as Broadsheet, the thrill of finding these bars – or better yet, the cultural cache of knowing them already – has barely dimmed.

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Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne
Best Whisky Bars in Melbourne