As the sun slowly sets and the day winds down for most, it’s a different story for the numerous bars dotted throughout the streets and laneways of greater Melbourne. Nothing starts an evening out like a sharp cocktail, so whether you like yours shaken or stirred there is something for everyone in any locale across this big city.

The Black Pearl
305 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

A suave low-key cocktail lounge on weeknights, Black Pearl heaves on the weekend. In its quieter moments, this bar sees locals propping up the bar (to watch the bar staff swing a cocktail around as they offer chit-chat), lounging in the various sofas or perching on an ottoman. Come alone, or bring your posse; it doesn’t matter at Black Pearl.

Basement, 113 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

In the basement underneath Seamstress is Sweatshop, the self-described “mischievous little brother”. The style here is a measured balance of tongue-in-cheek fun and dedication to mixing truly excellent drinks. Case in point: the cocktail list features “Drinks for Dorks and Geniuses” which includes four different kinds of West Coast Cooler, but you can be sure they’ll mix you a martini to rival any in the word.

169 Exhibition St, Melbourne

There’s no question that the heart and soul of 1806 lies in its cocktail list. Compiled by owner Sebastian Reaburn, the list begins in the year 1806, when the word ‘cocktail’ was first defined in print. There is a cocktail to represent each decade from that year to now. Be sure to try one of the more unique cocktails for which they’re known, such as the lemon custard margarita and make use of one of the most knowledgeable bar teams in Melbourne.

401 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

It can certainly be argued that Melbourne’s current appetite for serious cocktails started right here, in the plush velvety interior of this Brunswick Street institution.

Settle into a cosy corner and begin making your way through the cocktails – just don’t leave without trying one of the many Absinthes on offer from the skilled staff who know how to serve it correctly. Just be prepared for a wait at the bar on a Saturday night, this place is still packed after 10 years.

Der Raum
438 Church Street, Richmond

Long considered by many to be the country’s best cocktail bar, Der Raum knows how to stand out from the crowd. Presentation is a big part of this – the bottles hanging over the bar on octopus straps mean that this bar instantly looks different from any other. Then there are the cocktails, each presented in its own way. Take, for instance, The Pharmacy, served in a medical jar, with an Aperol-filled syringe (sans needle) and a sherbet pill.