Bars & Pubs

10 Must-Drink Events To Hit Up At The Melbourne Cocktail Festival

By Rick Stephens
25th Mar 2021

A woman making a cocktail in an outdoor bar.

After a successful inaugural festival last year just prior to lockdown, the Melbourne Cocktail Festival is back on the radar this April. 

Thanks to Grainshaker Vodka, the seven day celebration is set to champion Melbourne’s thriving cocktail scene, its people and its produce with 18 boozy events, parties, masterclasses and takeovers across the city. As you’d expect, the entire program is worth a tipple, though there are at least several happenings that any cocktail enthusiast should book in for right now. 

MCF Opening Party

Presented by Grainshaker Vodka and Good Spirits at Welcome To Thornbury, the MCF Opening Party is coming in red hot on Monday 12 April. On the line-up are several exclusive cocktails in collaboration with Grainshaker along with mango and ginger spritz from Good Spirits, while Mr Burger will be firing up the grill and keeping you fed—and the best part, tickets are absolutely free.

The Details

When: 4pm until 10pm, Monday 12 April
Where: Welcome To Thornbury, 520 High Street, Northcote
For free tickets, click

Around The Whisk(e)y World

If you’ve ever questioned why whiskey sometimes is and isn’t spelled with an ‘e’, now’s your chance to find out. Head downstairs to Beneath Driver Lane and embark on a five-stop journey through the nuances of Scottish, Irish, American, Japanese and Australian whisk(e)ys; the bartenders will tell you everything you need to know along each step of the way, including when—and when not to—include that e.

The Details

When: 5pm until 7:30pm, Wednesday 14 April
Where: Beneath Driver Lane, 3 Driver Lane, Melbourne
$50pp. Book

Tropical Escapism

Tropical Escapism is best described as a cocktail of Melbourne’s hospitality elite. Hosted in the Black Pearl’s 'The Attic', you’ve got their very own Felix Woods teaming up with Bar Liberty’s Nick Tesar for a punchy grip of wine-based cocktails paired with a menu from Lib’s head chef Zackary Furst. Each ticket scores a drink and snack on arrival. Nice one.

The Details

When: 6pm until 8pm and 8:30pm until 11:30pm, Thursday 15 April
Where: The Black Pearl, 304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
$20pp. Book

A History of Booze, Gin & Cocktails in Melbourne

Like a ghost tour but make it boozy. A History of Booze, Gin & Cocktails in Melbourne unpacks the not-so-known history of the city’s illegal grog industry via a guided journey with Worksmith’s Chief Mixologist and lead guide from Melbourne Historical Crime Tours at the helm. It’s bookended by a drink and charcuterie, and it kicks off at the CBD’s only operating legal distillery, Little Lon Distilling Co before wandering into the night and back doors of once-illegal bottle-shops.

The Details

When: 6pm until 8pm and 9pm until 11pm, Saturday 17 April
Where: Little Lon Distilling Co. 17 Casselden Place, Melbourne
$115pp. Book

A Masterclass In Mexico’s Finest Tequila

There comes a time where we all need to accept that those savage shots we’d down in our very early 20s wasn’t really tequila. Presented by Clase Azul Tequila at the charming Tetto di Carolina, this masterclass acquaints you with the real tequila from Clase Azul’s top-shelf range while diving deep into the history and community of the artisans behind the drink. Your ticket to this intimate evening covers several cocktails and tastings paired with a Mexican inspired menu designed by Chef German Rincon.

The Details

When: 6:30pm to 9:30pm, Tuesday 13 April
Where: Tetto di Carolina, 48 Toorak Road, South Yarra
$220pp. Book

The Long Goodbye

MCF has teamed up with one of Melbourne’s most anticipated openings of the past year, Andrew McConnell’s Gimlet to explore the drink of the same namesake. Coming in at just $45, sample three half-serve gimlets including the restaurant’s signature iteration and two developed—and only available—during Melbourne Cocktail Festival.

The Details

When: Tuesday 13 April to Sunday 18 April
Where: Gimlet, 33 Russell Street, Melbourne
$45 per flight. Book here.

Botanical To Bar

Anther Distillery’s bespoke experience was one of the highlights from last year’s MCF, so it’s no surprise they’re returning for 2021. This time around, you’ll be distilling a micro-batch with distiller Joey Tai which heroes a special native botanical—your ticket includes a cocktail before and during the process, as well as a tasting of what you’ve created during the 90-minute session.

The Details

When: 2pm until 3:30pm, Wednesday 14 April
Where: Anther Distiller, 33 Mackey Street, Geelong
$30pp. Book

Shaken, Stirred And Stolen

MCF is shining a light on the oft-avoided beer cocktail with several brew-focussed events. At the top of the list is a collaboration event between beer and booze veterans at Molly Rose Brewery. A beergroni, a beergarita, a beerlini? Perhaps. See what some of the industry’s favourite bartenders come up with at the launch event and sip them all festival long.

The Details

When: 6pm until 8pm, Thursday 15 April
Where: Molly Rose Brewery, 279 Wellington Street, Collingwood
For free tickets, click

MCF Closing Party

Best you take Monday off for reasons we don’t need to go into. The line-up for MCF’s 2021 farewell is stacked, you’ve got Starward Whisky and CAPI on the drinks, culinary legend and Resident Chef of The Moon Wine Bar, Charley Snadden-Wilson on menu duties which champions Victorian-farmed produce, and vibe-bringer DJ duo Wax’o Paradiso on the wheels of steel. Each ticket gets you an exclusive cocktail and a three-course feed.

The Details

When: 12pm until 5pm, Sunday 18 April
Where: Starward Distillery, 50 bertie Street, Port Melbourne
$70pp. Book

Bar Safari

Take off on a self-guided cocktail crawl to end all cocktail crawls. MCF’s Bar Safari hits 30 venues, each with their own exclusive (and limited) cocktail available during the entirety of the festival. The likes of Arbory Afloat, Capitano and The Everliegh are all on board with their own unique drop, and you can try them for $15 a pop when you register here.

Image credit: supplied

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