While there’s always room for a drink at one of Melbourne’s best bars, it’s fun to try somewhere new, too. This is our edit of Melbourne’s best new bars from the past 12 months, updated monthly. Some could become your new favourite; others may just be good for one memorable night. All are worth a try.

Here’s a tip: come hungry. A lot of these bars have killer menus that deserve to be explored.

Related pages:
Best Bars in Melbourne
Best New Restaurants in Melbourne
Best New Cafes in Melbourne

Moon Dog World

Capacity for 725 patrons. An indoor waterfall (which cascades into a lagoon). A hidden tiki disco bar. A giant beer garden. Even a playground for the kids. You’ve heard of how fun Moon Dog World is by now, but you should also know that beyond the bells and whistles, one of Melbourne’s original craft-beer innovators still amply delivers on the drinks front. We like the Pine-Lime Icecream IPA and the boozy imperial stouts on offer. Beyond beer, there’s wine and cocktails on tap, as well as a range of eats, which can only be described as “drinking food.”

32 Chifley Drive, Preston

Old Palm Liquor

Old Palm Liquor is a great spot for a quick drink (the house red, a drop from Koerner in South Australia, is better than any house red has a right to be) but it’s worth settling in for longer. Almost everything on the menu touches the charcoal-powered grill, giving every dish – from king oyster mushrooms to pork chops to rockling fillets – a delicate smokiness.

133b Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Bar Margaux

From the folks who gave us The Everleigh and Heartbreaker, Bar Margaux goes well beyond just being a bar. It's a subterranean late-night bistro with a substantial, unapologetically French menu. And with its red leather banquettes, subway tiles and forgiving lighting, it's the kind of place you could lose a whole night in.

Basement 111 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Arbory Afloat

When Arbory Afloat’s colossal pontoon appears on the waters of the Yarra each year, it’s a more reliable indicator that winter is over than any calendar. This year the theme is ’70s Miami, which is reflected across the drinks (cocktails have more of a rum-focus), the food (inspired by Cuban, Caribbean and Latin American cuisine) and the colour palette (flamingo pink and baby blue). The big new addition is a pool on the pontoon, so you can now swim on the Yarra, or just book out your own private poolside cabana.

2 Flinders Walk, Melbourne

Mono-XO

Everything about Mono-XO – from its 22-seat room to its single 60-centimetre by 30-centimetre charcoal grill – is small. But the atmosphere and flavour in the food and drinks? All huge. Most of the food is served on skewers. For drinks, there’s highball cocktails served over slow-frozen ice blocks, which champion just one or two big punchy flavours in each sip. There’s also a three-glass wine list, which features a $7 glass of mystery wine billed only as “WHAT THE F#&K;”.

Rear 191A Smith Street, Fitzroy

Dessous

Cafe specialists Nathan Toleman and the Mulberry Group are no strangers to ambitious venue concepts (he’s behind Liminal and the now-sold Higher Ground) but together Hazel (the restaurant) and Dessous (the underground bar) presents the group’s first foray into night-time trading. Dessous is all about classic cocktails and clever – but not showy – small plates, delivered in a cool subterranean space. It’s a welcome addition to Melbourne’s underground bar scene.

164 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Bodriggy Brewing Co

This mammoth new brewery in Abbotsford was a long time coming, but it’s been worth the wait. Beers here run the gamut from crisp pilsners and summer ales to more obscure styles such as kettle sours and lichtenhainers. But beer is only one aspect of Bodriggy Brewing Co – you’ll also find a number of unusual cocktails, and five wines on tap. There’s a real night-time energy here, without it being overly loud or nightclub-y.

245 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

The LuWow

The much-loved tiki bar is back in new (and smaller) CBD digs. There’s a bevvy of tropical-themed cocktails, all heavily rum-based, each more ridiculous than the last. Our favourites included the Pain Killer (basically lots of pineapple juice and coconut water with dark rum); the Easter Island Iced Tea, which, in the large size, can be shared between four people; and the classic Zombie, which combines three types of rum. Throughout the space there are of course plenty of tikis – some cartoonish, some genuine – backed up by fake plants, bamboo and leopard-print bar stools.

212 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

Molly Rose

Molly Rose is one of the latest brewery bars to join Melbourne’s unofficial craft-beer district in Abbotsford and Collingwood. In an old furniture warehouse, owner Nic Sandery brews beers that combine historical styles with inventive new takes. Sit among the giant stainless-steel fermenters while you sip zesty sour ales and farmhouse ales matured in brandy barrels.

279 Wellington Street, Collingwood

Byrdi

Byrdi is about using drinks as a vessel for expressing local, seasonal produce. Take In Bloom, which blends gin with jasmine, plum blossom and lilly pilly. It’s more floral than we often see in cocktails and it’s only on the menu when the right ingredients are in season – a matter of weeks. To snack on, there’s a menu of small plates. Our favourite was a dish of grilled prawns with garlic butter and finger lime cooked on a hibachi grill.

Ella, Melbourne Central Corner Latrobe and Elizabeth Streets, Melbourne

Meyers Place

Meyers Place arguably kickstarted Melbourne’s famous late-night laneway culture when it opened back in 1993. But two years ago, the lease was up. Now it’s reopened 150 metres away, on Crossley Street. It hasn’t changed much, which is what we were hoping for. Upstairs is a tight 30-person space (pretty much standing-room only), downstairs there’s a slightly bigger basement (still a bit of a squeeze). To drink there’s a tight list of wines by the glass. And of course, it wouldn’t be Meyers Place without Melbourne Bitter longnecks.

7 24 Crossley Street, Melbourne

Tamura Sake Bar

We've seen a raft of Japanese-style izakayas – casual drinking dens that place equal importance on food – open this year, but this one's the pick of the bunch. Grab a seat up at the bar; let Fumi Tamura and his wife Takako play you a vinyl record and pour you a "third-wave" sake; and order dishes such as yakitori chicken breast, a salmon skin crisp, or a katsu sando.

43 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Romans Original

This small Footscray spot does double duty as a bar and cafe. Regardless of the time of day, though, the atmosphere’s likely to be the same: friendly, comfortable, intimate. Be sure to get a sandwich with your wine. A Meatsmith sausage patty served with fried egg and American cheese feels like a mature Macca’s brekkie; the meatball number comes in a crusty baguette, covered in chives and cheese.

50 Leeds Street, Footscray

Colour

In the wake of the sad closures of Hugs and Kisses and Lounge, there were concerns for the future of Melbourne’s late-night club culture. With the opening of Radar (in the old Lounge space) and now Colour, maybe those concerns can be allayed. It’s a 24-hour nightclub in a former church built in 1835. It operates as a bar and bandroom from Tuesday to Thursday, before transitioning into club mode for the weekend. There’s a 300-person capacity and a 24-hour licence.

229 Queensberry Street, Carlton

The Wood Samaritan

At the Wood Samaritan, the walls are all wood panelling, Navajo-print wallpaper and exposed brick. Mounted on them: skis, snowshoes and a canoe. Behind the bar, an obligatory moose head is given pride of place. Cocktails here take their cues from North America too, Canada specifically. To eat, the focus is on hearty bar food.

140 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Angel Music Bar

This not-a-cocktail-bar, not-a-club hybrid – it’s best described as an intimate space designed for fun – comes courtesy of Con Christopoulos (The European, Kirk’s Wine Bar, French Saloon and Butchers Diner). Angel is a music-focused venue with an exceptional sound system playing an eclectic mix of whatever feels right at the time. So grab some lobster mac’n’cheese and a glass of champagne, then head upstairs for a dance.

12 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Radar

Radar has taken over the lease that nightlife institution Lounge held for 29 years. It’s a venue loaded with history, so the opening came with a lot of expectations and scrutiny. It’s too early to tell where it’ll fit into Melbourne’s late-night landscape, but signs are promising. In the afternoons, Radar is a great spot for a drink, especially on the open-air balcony. In the wee hours, the Funktion-One speakers flanking the dance floor get a rigorous workout.

243 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Leo's by the Slice

Leo’s by the Slice is a hybrid of co-owner Nick Stanton’s two other venues. It takes the pizza and Italian-American retro nostalgia of Leonardo’s Pizza Palace – wood panelling, terrazzo floors and Pizza Hut-style signage – and combines it with the good times and drinks of Leonard’s House of Love, his first venue. The result is an unabashedly fun bar where you can have a drink, play some pool and eat a seriously dressed-up slice of pie off a paper plate.

363 Chapel Street, South Yarra

Tetto di Carolina

With its warm light fixtures, red-steel accents and taupe booths and walls, Tetto is an inviting space that exudes casual Euro-cool. To drink, try the American Beauty: it’s part Americano, part Spritz, with some Campari-like Select Aperitivo. To eat, order an IFC (Italian Fried Chicken), an homage to KFC’s Zinger burger. On warm nights, Tetto’s roof will roll open to expose the sky above.

48 Toorak Road, South Yarra

Globe Alley

A no-nonsense good-time bar from the owner of Section 8, The B.East and Ferdydurke. At Globe Alley you’ll find live music three times a week, free pool and some of the best burgers in town. Cocktail names such as Kickstart My Heart and Flamingo Fire signal that you shouldn’t take this place too seriously. But if the drinks don’t convince you, maybe the black-and-white paste-ups of bands and films – from the Rolling Stones to The Addams Family – around the bar will.

1 Globe Alley, Melbourne