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

Nick and Nora’s

Unfortunate: this glitzy, 1930s-themed cocktail bar by the Speakeasy Group (Eau de Vie, Mjolner, Boilermaker House) opened smack-bang in between lockdowns. Fortunate: it gave Melburnians one helluva place to celebrate as soon as lockdown 2.0 lifted, with a luxe 11.59pm soiree. For a cocktail bar, it’s huge. Once things go back to normal, there’ll be table service for 240 people across five separate rooms and three balconies. Go for theatrical cocktails bubbling with liquid nitrogen; boozy yuzu-pineapple punch bowls for four (served in a huge bronze swan); fancy canapés; and more.

80 Collins Street, Melbourne

Jamsheed Urban Winery

In a roomy Preston warehouse, Jamsheed’s urban winery and cellar door – the Victorian label’s first permanent home – presents more like a divey brewery (in the best sense). There are naked concrete floors, sparse industrial-chic furnishings, stacks of barrels strewn about the place, a pool table and even beer taps. But here it’s all about Gary Mills’s exciting, extremely drinkable wines – which you can watch him make during vintage. Among them: the crowd-favourite Candy Flip, a fizzy, pink-hued pét-nat, and a selection of “park wines” (which wine guy Mike Bennie describes as “thirst-quenching wines made for casual drinking”).

4 Albert Street, Preston

Maha Bar

Shane Delia’s snazzy new north-side spot – reopening next year after the topsy-turviness of 2020 – is the good-time sibling to flagship Middle Eastern restaurant Maha. (And it’s in the space that once housed his fancy kebab shop Biggie Smalls.) To eat? A borek-doughnut hybrid, savoury fish crumpets, and lamb shoulder with date-and-lamb-fat sauce. To drink? Turkish Delight Martinis and za’atar Margaritas. Park yourself at the cork-topped bar and order up big in a room decorated with playful French-Lebanese art.

86 Smith Street, Collingwood

The Prince Public Bar

It’s hard to mess with an icon. And it doesn’t get much more iconic than Prince Public Bar. The glorious art deco-era building has lived many lives, from its beginnings as a classy parlour for seaside holiday-makers to its more recent years as a rough-and-ready dive. Overhauling it was never going to be without controversy, but there’s plenty to like about this fresh Prince. The room has been opened up and brightened, an island bar dominates at the centre. Thirty taps pour everything from household-name beers to small-batch prosecco. Food is refined, but still recognisably pub fare. It’s too early to tell exactly how the Prince will fit into St Kilda – but so far, so good.

29 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda

Hemingway’s Wine Room

This lavish, split-down-the-centre space – located among East Melbourne’s ornate terraces, bluestone cottages and art-deco apartments – was designed with the spirit of 1920s Paris and New York in mind. On one side it’s a French brassiere, where you can have a cheese trolley wheeled to your table or settle in for a long lunch with free-flowing 1.5-litre magnums. On the other side it’s a casual boozer, where you can sip classic European drops and Ernest Hemingway-inspired cocktails.

150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

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

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

Mrs Singh

Jessi Singh – the chef-restaurateur behind casual Indian diners Horn Please and Daughter in Law, and new British-Indian mega-pub Mr Brownie – opened this Indian-ish wine bar on Flinders Lane at the start of the year. It’s in a space replete with velvet seating, black-and-white terrazzo and blue resin floors. The star of the menu? Cheesy flatbreads – choose from comté, smoked butter and coriander oil; taleggio, mint and truffle oil; and blue cheese with caramelised onion and garlic. There’s also a lobster roll with curry-dusted crisps, vindaloo-pork momos and a roving champagne cart.

88 Flinders Lane, Melbourne