A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:
When we love something we really, truly LOVE something! And that’s exactly how we feel about our new relationship! Some things just go together. Like cookies and cream, Brandon and Brenda… The Urban List and MINI!
Our two families have collaborated to bring discerning readers and drivers a new fortnightly series – MINI Fave 5s. The must-try guide to Melbourne, celebrating the launch of the new MINI 5-door hatch!
So, Urban Listers, clear the diary and get excited for our Fave 5s. There’s a whole year of eating, drinking and discovering to be done…
SO WHO'S ON OUR HIT LIST OF HIDDEN BARS IN MELBOURNE?
Here at TUL, we’re big fans of secret drinking. But, before you get your knickers in a knot, we’re not talking about that half-empty bottle of OP rum hidden in the third drawer down! We’re referring to the secret society of Melbourne bars that like to fly under-the-radar, hidden down crumbling laneways, accessed through a sliding bookshelf, a secret knock on an unmarked door, up the rickety stairs or deathtrap elevator above a neon-signed noodle bar…
It’s in these concealed corners of our city that clued-in sippers are enjoying some of Melbourne’s best bars while you’re sitting at home in your jimjams. From killer cocktails to epic wine lists, fancy-pants date spots and rowdy tiki bars, here are the best hidden bars in Melbourne. Keep your eyes peeled, cos they are all around you—half the fun is in the discovery.
Located above stellar Melbourne restaurant, Saint Crispin (walk through the restaurant, past the kitchen, and up a flight of stairs), Thomas Olive rocks a refined, speakeasy vibe. Small cocktail tables and plush couches are dotted around the single-room establishment, while the bar stretches the full length of the northern wall. The gin, vermouth, and whisky selections are abbreviated (there’s really not much space…) but on point, and the cocktails mix up classics with a handful of new discoveries. If you’re not sure what to order, simply give Alan, the bartender, a hint at the flavours you enjoy and he’ll be more then happy to mix your perfect potion.
With some of the best Melbourne bar snacks going round, Thomas Olive is the perfect hidden Melbourne bar for a date, a top-notch pre-dinner tipple, or a round or two of hard drinks after the main event.
A well-kept secret up the Windsor end of Chapel, daring drinkers enter Jungle Boy NYC-style, through the cool room door of late-night sandwich and poutine joint, Boston Sub. The petite party palace that awaits is bursting with greenery, taxidermy, and a buzzy, anything-goes atmosphere.
The lighting is low—we suspect to camouflage the debauchery that ensues after downing one too many tiki mugs of potent, fruity cocktails—making this secret Melbourne bar a killer first date venue. If they can't see the wrinkles, they don’t exist, amirite?
Jungle Boy is like the funnest house party you’ve ever been to, full of people much cooler than your friends (too mean?). Plus, if you’re starting to get a little too tiki-freaky, you can wash down your pina colada with a pulled-pork sub from out front.
You don't need to be a super sleuth to find this first class Melbourne bar, but at the same time it's not immediately apparent to the Gertrude Street passerby. A good thing, really, as it keeps the riff raff out of The Everleigh—an intimate drinking establishment that is pure class. Serving flawlessly mixed classic cocktails, with a generous booze selection (and staff with encyclopeadic liquor knowledge), the gorgeous marble bar, cosy leather booths, dark wooded surrounds and atmospheric lighting make it the perfect bar for a spot of 'hands where I can see them' canoodling.
Sip on Champagne, or the Bartender's Choice cocktail, take to a booth and engage in sparkling conversation you can actually hear, and enjoy the Golden Era goodtime vibes in this Fitzroy speakeasy. The juice is freshly squeezed, the ice is hand cut; nothing is compromised here. Not only acknowledged among the cream of Melbourne's best bars, The Everleigh's renown spreads far and wide—it recently bagged 30th spot in the world's top 50 bars. We'll raise a crystal glass to that!
Fall from Grace
Heading to the CBD, Fall From Grace is a cellar bar hidden within a restaurant (State of Grace), behind a bookshelf. Remove a book from said shelf, and the secret door will reveal a decadent drinking den, replete with marble staircase, chandeliers, candles and cosy velvet-clad nooks for naughty night owl antics.
A favourite Friday night knock-off spot for in-the-know city worker bees, the cocktails at this Melbourne bar are killer and the wine selection boggles, with stacked racks dominating the bar, running the width of the venue.
Make eyes at a banker over your dirty martini—you can say you met at the library.
Those inner-city Melbourne bar barons really like to make you work for your Sailor Jerry—another of Melbourne’s best bars, Goldilocks, is hidden on always-bustling Swanston Street. This is the one above a noodle joint—take the elevator up above Noodle Kingdom and you’re in for a treat.
First you’ll find the ‘cottage’, where not-at-all-scary, mounted wooden bear heads watch over groups of diners and drinkers nestled in lush leather booths. However, we suggest you huff and puff your stuff up to the forest-themed rooftop bar.
With creative cocktails the order of the day, work your way through the menu ‘til you find one that’s just right.
We're thrilled to partner with MINI to bring you our Fave 5 series—our fortnightly guide to the best of the best in Melbourne. From food to fashion, Campari to Crossfit, each Fave 5 edition is researched and recommended by The Urban List, and driven by the new MINI 5-Door Hatch—putting the city at your fingertips and giving you the freedom to explore it!
Image Credits: Thomas Olive - Nick West, Jungle Boy - Jacqui Willkins, The Everleigh - Nick West, Fall From Grace & Goldilocks - Simon Shiff