In a lot of ways, the pomp and fun of having a cocktail seems completely at odds with the sobering doldrums of everyday life under lockdown. All the more reason to drink up, we say.

Pre-batched cocktails have been on the cusp of going mainstream for a long time now. But lockdowns have sped this us up. Melbourne’s best bartenders have been forced to innovate and pour everything they have into making cocktails ready to enjoy at home.

The results are excellent – these aren’t just the best at-home cocktails in town: order one of these, and it’ll be one of the best drinks you have this year.

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The Everleigh

This world-class bar was well ahead of the takeaway cocktail curve. It started its bottled cocktail spin-off, The Everleigh Bottling Co, more than five years ago. That experience has made the Everleigh very well equipped for these surreal times. On the Everleigh at Home online shop, you’ll find classics – Martinis, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds – alongside newer signatures such as the Tattletale; a scotch, honey, Islay whisky and Angostura number. Plus, each cocktail comes delivered with ice from Navy Strengththe best cocktail ice in the country.

1 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Byrdi

Luke Whearty and Aki Nishikura are the couple behind one of the world's best bars, Singapore's Operation Dagger. Their homecoming follow-up, Byrdi, is just as special. Cocktails here are made with native produce and seasonality front of mind, and the bottled batches are no different. Just look at the Wattleseed Negroni or the Paperbark Martini. The Lamington – which combines sugarcane spirit with cocoa butter, coconut oil and vermouth – is a bestseller. Shop here.

Ella, Melbourne Central Corner Latrobe and Elizabeth Streets, Melbourne

Black Pearl

Institution is the only word for this Brunswick Street bar. The online range changes often, but there’s always a little bit of everything: pre-made cocktails for two, canned cocktails from friends of the bar and even a killer aperitivo made in collaboration with Broadsheet.

304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Bar Americano

This grande dame of both Melbourne’s cocktail scene and its laneway culture is sadly ill-equipped for social distancing. But its online shop, Hometender, goes all out to bring the bar experience to you. There’re bottled cocktails, glassware, merch collaborations and (depending on who you ask) very, very kitschy jugs and decanters.

20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne

Mjølner

Eating and drinking at Mjolner, as with many cocktail bars, is very much about experience and atmosphere. So how does its takeaway offering stack up when divorced from optimal context? Pretty bloody well, it turns out. Choose from cocktails with very metal-sounding names such as Svas Blood (gin, martini bianco, goat’s milk, white chocolate and strawberry) and Battle Axe (rum, bourbon, chicory, walnut leaf, maple and bitters). If you’re peckish – read, starving – order the Viking Feast to go with your drinks. Lacking suitably Norse drinking vessels? You can buy Mjolner’s famous drinking horns (with stand) on the shop.

106-112 Hardware Street, Melbourne
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Above Board

This Collingwood cocktail bar is well known for its restrained fit-out and cocktail list. The drinks menu isn’t expansive. Instead the focus is on a tight line-up, made to exacting standards. All of the classic cocktails on the online shop are great, but we recommend trying something different, like The Benefactor – whisky, pineapple rum, dry vermouth, maraschino and orange bitters – or the Bananadrama: mezcal, verjus and banana. If you can’t decide, go for the Discovery Collection and get four cocktails for $60.

Level 1 306 Smith Street (access through Chopper Lane), Collingwood

Capitano

This Carlton Italo-American spot is well-known for its excellent pizzas and New York-style red sauce joint staples (look no further than the pasta in vodka sauce), but its cocktails don’t get the attention they deserve. Since lockdowns burst onto the scene in March, though, Capitano has very much been at the front of the takeaway-drinks pack. And those cocktails are now attracting a following of their own. The range runs the gamut from classics (Negronis, Martinis) to slightly wilder (Tiramisu Milk Punch, PB & Miso Old Fashioned). We have special place in our hearts for the Negroni Magnum – it’s a 1.5-litre monster.

421 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Romeo Lane

Romeo Lane is now sealing drinks in ziplock-style bags and aiming to deliver them within the hour to a bunch of inner-city suburbs. Each cocktail costs $17.50, with an minimum order of four. Choose from classics such as Martinis or Manhattans, or opt for one of co-owner Joe Jones’s more creative concoctions, which he changes up regularly. Order here.

1A Crossley Street, Melbourne

Lay Low Bar

This Seddon staple’s online cocktail shop is outrageously good value. Prices per cocktail – such as a classic Espresso Martini or Negroni – start at around the $35 mark. But at 330mL, you’ll get two cocktails out of each bottle. Other highlights include the Lay Low Margarita and the Pearent Trap. If you’re after some variety, the three-pack is the way to go. There’s also a range of cocktail classes and virtual parties to browse, if you have any more Zoom socialising in the tank.

93 Buckley Street, Seddon

Gin Palace

This Melbourne cocktail icon’s online cocktail range is just like the bar itself: classic, modern and fun in equal measure. Go for an opulent Royal Treatment Negroni, or order the Zombie if you’re after something sillier (BYO tiki mug).

10 Russell Place, Melbourne

Mr West

This Footscray bar and bottle shop was one of the first cabs off the rank when it came to big-batch, stay-at-home-friendly cocktails. Its 1.5-litre “bagnums” are sort of high-end goon bags filled with high-quality, pre-made cocktails, including Espresso Martinis, Margaritas and Negronis. Shop the range here.

106 Nicholson Street, Footscray

Whisky and Alement

Melbourne’s whisky bar par excellence main home option is boilermakers, which combine a shot of whisky with a beer. We like the sound of the Barrel Aged Fruit Cake boilermaker, a bottle of imperial porter from US brewer Smoking Skull (that’s aged for a year in Speyside whisky bottles) matched appropriately with a shot of Speyside single malt whisky. But there's plenty to choose from. Plus, there’s tiny school lunchbox-sized juice bags on the shop filled with some of the world’s rarest whiskies to purchase.

270 Russell Street, Melbourne

Leonardo’s Pizza Palace

Bartender Matt Stirling (ex-Black Pearl and the gone-but-not-forgotten Fancy Free) has just joined the Leonardo’s Pizza gang. And his first bottled cocktail is an absolute lip-smacker of a Piña Colada. More takeaway cocktails are coming soon. Order yours here or text a pineapple emoji to 0475 587 708 to arrange a home drop-off (within 5 kilometres of Leonardo’s). We’re not kidding.

29 Grattan Street, Carlton