Calling all night crawlers, day drinkers and avid Sunday sessioners. Here are our picks of the best new Melbourne bars to try out this summer. Get in quick and claim your barstool before everybody else does.
Surprises await the few game enough to venture down Chopper Lane. Those in Melbourne's inner cocktailing circle are quietly buzzing about Above Board. Headed up by erstwhile Australian Bartender of the Year Hayden Lambert (Bar Americano), the intimate bar is a self-proclaimed "cocktail experience" of iconic drinks and new concoctions that retain a classic sensibility. Start with a P&G (sherry, elderflower, lemon, orange bitters) and end with a smile on your face.
There's an old adage in the publishing world; write drunk, edit sober. But what state should one read in? It's easy to tell which side of the argument Buck Mulligan's falls on as the new bar combines the two nerdoms of books and whisky. Aiming to have Melbourne's largest collection of Irish whiskies, the literature in-store also focuses on authors from the Emerald Isle.
After fast outgrowing their former Essendon digs, a local whisky mecca travels South. Starward's distillery and cellar door features a weekend-only cocktail bar laden with well over 100 bottles of the good stuff. From here you can—and should— sip a sour and watch as gleaming copper stills work their magic. If you prefer your nip unadulterated, you can't go wrong by complimenting your single malt with d.i.y cheeseboard in our humble opinion.
For fans of 80's Floridian-flavoured ambience, ooh heaven is a place on Bourke. Fancy Hank's has just launched the newest rooftop bar in town: Good Heavens. Pretend you're in Miami or Palm Springs as Hawaiian-shirted bartenders sling drinks spiked with Blue Curacao, tropical juices and Maraschino cherries. You can still get Hank's excellent cheeseburgers (or fried cauliflower swathed in vegan ranch if you're so inclined) way up here.
The Silverlake Social
The White Oaks team have delivered a mod-saloon vibe in their new establishment, The Silverlake Social. After 50 years, a local Chinese restaurant has made a complete SoCal-inspired transformation with a line up of American craft beers, fiery whiskies and a Tabasco-soused menu of South-Western bar bites. Order your nachos made out of tater tots to fortify yourself before a round of bacon, coffee and whisky shots.
Queen of the South
Frida Kahlo looks on approvingly as you sip damn good Tommy's Margaritas and Tequila Sours at Queen of the South. For straight sipping at this friendly new Mexican joint, opt directly for the vanilla-y Siete Leguas Reposado tequila, preferably alongside as many of their addictive cactus and queso tostaditas as you can handle!
With a name like Hopscotch you might expect a venue to make a hero of whisky. But it's actually the first part of that title that's key as this new riverside bar skips straight to the beer. They have over 30 taps (including the odd cider) on offer as well as shake-your-own cocktails and adult slushies. Food-wise much of the menu is thoughtfully designed to be hand-held so you never have to set down your schooner. Beer is even encouraged at breakfast-time in the form of Dark Ale ice-cream atop your bacon and waffles.
Keep And Eye Out For These
A new pop-up Southbank Summer Bar by Melbourne Theatre Company for a pre-show Spritz / The Recreation a.k.a. The Rec a fresh bistro and bottleshop for Fitzroy North / A pop-up beachside bar in Torquay called Bomboras / Preston craft brewery and pub Tallboy and Moose / Kirk's, the classic Australian public bar now neighbouring Kirk's Wine Bar in the city / Australia's first pinball bar in the CBD's Pinball Paradise / The wine-focused Beau Kitchen & Cellar in Beaumaris complete with its very own boutique vino store - Rack & Ruin - right next door.
Pssst...more new bars are coming soon! Stay tuned for House of Correction (Melbourne CBD), Abacus Bar & Kitchen (South Yarra), The Elysian Whisky Bar (Fitzroy), Harvest (South Yarra), Henry Sugar (North Carlton), Wolfe & Molone (Bentleigh) and The Meatball & Wine Bar (Windsor).
Image Credit: Hopscotch