The 50 best bars in Victoria, according to bartenders, are right here.

What makes a great bar?

If you look through the list of Victoria’s 50 best bars below, you’ll see that despite the wide range of experiences and aesthetics they offer — we’ve got everything from high-end temples of the art of the cocktail, to down and dirty dives (and everywhere on between) — the thread that brings them all together is passion and an emphasis on hospitality.

How did we get the list? The best way to find bars to visit is to ask the bartender in front of you. In August, we put out the call for nominations, with a view to discovering the best bars across Victoria. These nominations were then voted on by an advisory panel of over 100 Victorian bartenders and bar figures, each voter choosing their seven favourite bars.

The result is the 50 top bars below.

1. Caretaker's Cottage

13-141 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne


Caretaker’s is subtle, in its way: the lights, the sound, the timber — everything conveys warmth, just like their hospitality. They don’t shout their pedigree to the world, though they’ve all worked at some of the world’s best bars.

The place is small inside, so you’re up close and personal with the bartenders making your drinks behind the bar, which also functions as a DJ booth: an expensive looking record player setup is embedded along one side of the bar, with stacks of vinyl set on the back bar beneath two large, warm-sounding golden speakers. The drinks are always first class, and it might just be the best bar in Australia right now. | @caretakers.cottage

2. Above Board

Chopper Ln, Collingwood


Located at the end of Chopper Lane, and sitting above a beer bar, you’ll find one of Australia’s best regarded cocktail bars. Helmed by veteran bartender, Hayden Lambert, at Above Board it’s all about old school cocktailing; minimal ingredients, cocktails built in the classic style, an emphasis on banter and hospitality in a small, intimate, beautifully designed space. | @aboveboardbarmelb

3. Bar Bellamy

164 Rathdowne St, Carlton


The best new bar in Victoria, if you ask us, and the bartenders and bar owners on the voting panel thought so too. Bar Bellamy brings together everything good about cocktails, drinking, and hospitality in one small neighbourhood space — hit the prix fix menu on Sundays for the perfect afternoon. | @bar.bellamy

4. One Or Two

18 Celestial Ave, Melbourne

Owner and bartender Andy Chu has worked some of the city’s best bars, and knows how to put liquids together in delicious and inventive ways; the 26-seat cocktail bar opposite Chinatown staple Supper Inn is an intimate, dark, minimalist space where Chu and another bartender craft cocktails of the highest standard. Each visit brings something new and delicious to drink, which is perhaps why, on each visit, there's always an off-duty bartender sat at the bar, watching Chu go about his work. | @one.or.two.melb

5. Black Pearl

304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy


Celebrating its 21st birthday this year, Black Pearl is a bar world legend. Some of the country’s best bartending talents have spent time behind the stick here, and Black Pearl practically pioneered the idea of the neighbourhood joint that just happens to be a world renowned cocktail destination. Love live the Pearl. | @blackpearlfitzroy

6. Byrdi

211 La Trobe St, Melbourne

Byrdi sees bartender and owner Luke Whearty at the height of his powers. At Byrdi, he celebrates and showcases Victorian produce in innovative ways, with drinks menus that change with the seasons (one of which was named the 2022 Drink List of the Year). Put simply, this is elevated, delicious drinking. | @byrdimelb

7. The Elysian Whisky Bar

113 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Owners Kelvin Low and Yao Wong are big fans of whisky, and they’ve cobbled together a collection of hard to find, rare and special whiskies that has made the place a destination for whisky lovers and novices alike. It’s the kind of place where you can sit down at the bar, they’ll open bottles for you to sniff, and talk you through your choices; each visit is an education in deliciousness. | @theelysianwhiskybar

8. Bar Liberty

234 Johnston St, Fitzroy

When Bar Liberty opened on Johnson St Fitzroy in 2016, it was riding a wave of interest in unstuffying wine — laidback service, interesting drops from smaller producers and minimal interventionists, and delicious food. And in recent years, its cocktail list provided more reasons to drop in, with the Uber-talented Nick Tesar behind the bar until he made a move into the brand world earlier this year. Tesar may have moved on, but his legacy remains in drinks like the Japanese Slipper No. Blue: melon liqueur, Marionette blue curaçao, yuzushu and gin, and one of the Boothby Top 50 Drinks of the Year in 2022. | @bar.liberty

9. Apollo Inn

165 Flinders Ln, Melbourne

Despite having opened just this year, Apollo Inn already feels like it’s part of the bar world firmament. It’s an offshoot of the highly regarded restaurant from the Trader House group, Gimlet, with an expert team of bartenders on hand mixing smart takes on classic cocktails, and a chef back there with the bartenders plating up the kind of bar food that’ll have you cancelling dinner plans: think fresh shucked oysters, seafood, and charcuterie and you’re on the right track. |

10. Pearl Diver Cocktails & Oysters

56 Little Bourke St, Melbourne

Pearl Diver is what happens when two of Brisbane’s best bartending talents come to Melbourne and indulge their passions for good eating and drinking; as the name suggests, they do cocktails (their Sea & Shell Martini landed at number six on last year’s Drink of the Year Top 50), and oysters (a number of varieties are on hand at any given time). | @pearldiverco

11. Mr West

106 Nicholson Street Mall, Footscray

The award-winning Mr West opened in 2017 in Footscray thanks to owners Caleb Baker and Josh Hodges. There’s a healthy selection of 30 taps pour craft beers and funky ciders from across Australia and the globe, and the cocktails here are flavour-forward and fresh; an extensive range of spirits and minimal intervention wines complete the package. And if you’re not quite done when you’re done, you can pick up something from the bottleshop downstairs, too. | @mrwestbar

12. Par.

2/360 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

The debut bar from bartending double act, Tim Pope and Tony Huang, Par. pushes the concept of what a cocktail is; each of their cocktails are built from the ground up using uncommon ingredients and techniques, and designed to drink like wine (hence the uniform stemmed wine glasses every drink comes in). The minimalist space serves as the perfect foil for the duo’s passionate and warm hospitality. | @par.melb

13. The Everleigh

Level 1/150-156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

All hail the mighty Ev. The Everleigh has been a bastion of proper, adult drinking since opening in 2011, pushing classic cocktails to a grateful public and serving them up in one of the country’s most beautiful rooms. | @theeverleigh

14. Whisky & Alement

270 Russell St, Melbourne

Whisky nerds and novices alike are sorted at Whisky & Alement, the award-winning Melbourne whisky bar owned by Brooke Hayman and Julian White. Now in its 14th year of trade, the bar possesses an up-beat and buzzy atmosphere, and whether you’re keen to dive deep into single malts, discover a heretofore unknown dram, or just knock back the whisky and have a good time, Whisky & Alement does it all. | @whiskyandalement

15. Embla

122 Russell St, Melbourne

Ever since Embla opened in 2016, bartenders — and hanger-on booze writer types — have been dropping into the place any chance they get. That’s because the wine and food are at a standard you might expect from far grander places, the service is smart and without pretension, the fit out is warm and inviting. Embla always offers something new to admire, whether it’s on the plate or in the glass. | @embla_melbourne

16. Gimlet

33 Russell St, Melbourne

To sit at the bar at Gimlet, the restaurant and bar inside Cavendish House, is to get swept up in the bustle and brass of a grand bistro; the patrons are well-heeled, the bartenders swift and sure of movement, the cocktails taken in swift succession. It’s one of the country’s finest arguments for eating at the bar. |

17. The Lincoln

91 Cardigan St, Carlton

The Lincoln draws in all-comers, with a healthy selection of delicious and interesting things to drink (wine! great beer on tap!) and some of the finest food you’ll find in a boozer, anywhere. | @thelincolncarlton

18. The 18th Amendment Bar

82A Little Malop St, Geelong

Since opening in 2017, The 18th Amendment Bar has flown the flag for choice cocktails and good times in Geelong — their efforts have seen them become a regular fixture of award ceremonies and ‘best of’ lists around the country. | @the_18th_amendment_bar

19. Hats & Tatts

1/246 Russell St, Melbourne

Hats & Tatts is loud, it’s raucous, it’s a divey — so you know it’s going to be a good time. Since the bar closed up its South Melbourne digs and moved to the big smoke of the CBD, they’ve added in a rooftop, but their play hard drink better ethos remains. | @hatsandtatts

20. Black Kite Commune

30 Russell Pl, Melbourne

The latest bar from Ben Luzz and the team behind Gin Palace, Bar Ampere, and Bijou, Black Kite Commune occupies a dark, sleek space at the bottom of Russell Place; the emphasis here is on cocktails and Australian ingredients, put together in often surprising (read: delicious) ways. | @blackkitecommune

21. Good Measure

193 Lygon St, Carlton

During the daylight hours, Good Measure trades as a cafe and caffeine is the order of the day; but come the close of business, Good Measure flicks the switch into cocktail hour, becoming the kind of neighbourhood joint where the cocktails are crafted with care from local and seasonal ingredients.


22. Gin Palace

10 Russell Pl, Melbourne

The accolade of ‘institution’ gets thrown around a bit these days; it gets lobbed at bars that have been open a mere five or seven years. Well, Gin Palace has seen those pretenders come and go. Opened in 1997 — we think — and championing gin well before the spirit’s current boom in popularity, Gin Palace was the creation of the late Vernon Chalker, one of the great Australian bar luminaries. Gin Palace continues on, with longtime bartender and manager and now owner Ben Luzz ensuring the old dame remains as vital as ever. | @ginpalacemelb

23. Gerald's Bar

386 Rathdowne St, Carlton North

This North Carlton institution is probably the Platonic ideal of the Melbourne wine bar: it’s a place for locals (despite country-wide renown), it’s lived-in, the kind of place you where you eat well when you drink — somewhere you too want to be a local. | @geraldsbarmelbourne

24. Heartbreaker

234A Russell St, Melbourne

Inspired by the faded glamour of LA rock and roll rooms, Heartbreaker turns the noise and red neons up to 11, whether you’re a late night pool shark or a vagabond at the bar knocking back cocktails from The Everleigh Bottled Cocktail Co. | @heartbreakerbar

25. Bijou

194 Little Collins St, Melbourne

Out of the depths of the pandemic emerged this little gem of a wine shop; at the top of Russell Place on the corner of Little Collins, Bijou is a beautiful hole in the wall wine store and bar from the folks behind Gin Palace and Black Kite Commune. | @bijou_bottle_store

26. Beneath Driver Lane

Shop/3 Driver Ln, Melbourne

At this subterranean basement bar in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD you’ll find a taste of the Mississippi Delta. The stage at the back of the room regularly hosts live blues bands, and the back bar is adorned with loads of whiskey. The bartenders here are a dab hand at cocktails, too. | @beneathdriverlane

27. Union Electric

13 Heffernan Ln, Melbourne

Don’t mind the grumpy Bill Murray on the wall. Union Electric looks like a small sliver of a bar that spreads over two floors, but it packs in the good times; there’s a distinct lack of pretension here, the bartenders pour the rum and gin with big fresh flavours, and there’s always an up-tempo atmosphere. Also: hello, Pina Colada. | @unionelectricbar

28. Flaggerdoot

29. Whitehart Bar

22 Whitehart Ln, Melbourne

You gotta love what Melbourne can do with a car park and a few shipping containers. Whitehart brings together industrial elements and greenery to create an escape from the CBD outside; there are DJs and regular parties happening here, good eats and great beer on tap, and a admirable cocktail selection that skews towards Australian spirits. | @whitehartbar

30. Bar Margaux

Basement/111 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

It’s strange to think that Bar Margaux has been around just since 2019; its New York-inspired French bistro offering, the brassy subterranean room, the escargots and the Black Velvets — all of that feels like Bar Margaux has been a part of our lives a lot longer. It’s timeless. | @barmargauxmelbourne

31. Charlie's

17 View Point, Bendigo

Any proper city has a bar like this: a dive joint with plenty of beer and whisky and bartenders who want to not just host, but cause, a ruckus. After a name change from The Basement Bar to Charlie’s, we’re told the bar is not long for this world, which — one need only a quick glance at the bar’s social game on Instagram to know this — is a loss those in need of a party.


32. Naught Distilling Cocktail Bar

2/32 Peel St, Eltham

Many distilleries have a little bar attached to them, but they’re usually little more than large distillery doors; few go all in on offering a space that would befit a cocktail bar in New York or London, but that’s the atmosphere you’ll be in at the bar at Naught Distilling in, of all places, Eltham. Once you’re sat at the Studio Y-designed bar, you’ll want to work your way through the solid list of gin-driven classics — made with Naught’s own gin, naturally. | @naughtgin

33. Waxflower

153 Weston St, Brunswick

In many good bars, it can feel like the music is something of an afterthought; not so at Brunswick’s Waxflower, where shelves upon shelves are stocked with vinyl records, sleeve to sleeve. The bar is inspired by Japanese listening bars, or kissaten, but it’s not just about the music. Wine is the focus of the drinks here, and they lean towards the natural approach, but if you’re after an aperitif-style cocktail — Martini, anyone? — you’ll be well looked after at Waxflower. | @waxflowerbar

34. Deadwood

355 Point Nepean Rd, Dromana

On the Mornington Peninsula in Dromana, you’ll find Deadwood — a beachside bar named for the Gold Rush era town in the USA. And what does every beachside suburb need? A bar like Deadwood, drawing upon Americana serving bourbon and rye, with a jukebox that gets a good workout. | @deadwood.dromana

35. Chronicles

91-93 Fitzroy St, St Kilda

Since opening in November of 2020, the blonde-timbered Chronicles — named for a much loved, local independent bookstore that occupied the site before closing in 2009 — has been watering the locals with its mix of good spirits and craft beer on tap.

36. Ends & Means

79 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Ends & Means in Fitzroy is one of those bars that have put sustainability at the core of what it does, but you might not know it when you walk in — they don’t beat you about the head with it. Instead, whenever we’ve visited their focus has been squarely on hosting a good time. That’s what makes it a good example of a great neighbourhood cocktail bar. | @endsandmeansfitzroy

37. Paradise Alley

25 Easey St, Collingwood

Set in a large warehouse space, Paradise Alley, with a food offering that changes over the years (it currently is home to Nama, a Japanese izakaya-style popup). Paradise Alley is a drinker’s promised land, with a pool table, a large beer garden outdoors (and mostly undercover), and an attractive drinks list of cocktails, a healthy beer selection, and wines that lean au naturale. | @paradisealleycollingwood

38. Leonard's House of Love

3 Wilson St, South Yarra

What happens when you take a South Yarra house and turn it into a space reminiscent of a Canadian log cabin? At Leonard's, the result is a neighbourhood bar with burgers, wings, and a lot of whiskey — like an FM radio station playing the hits of the 70s, there’s a lot of comfort to be found here. | @leonardshouseoflove

39. Bar Ampere

16 Russell Pl, Melbourne

From the folks behind Gin Palace next door, Bar Ampere feels a little industrial, with a faded modernism about it; perhaps that’s because Bar Ampere is open until three in the morning. It’s not unlikely that there will be some off-shift hospitality types hanging out here outdoors after the rest off Melbourne punters have bailed home; the menu runs French-ish, and there’s pretty of aperitif-style drinking to be had. | @barampere

40. La Rue

Briscoe Ln, Melbourne

This luxe new addition to the Nomad group looks sleek — it’s a very Melbourne dark black interior — and seats just eight, across a courtyard from its sister restaurant, the very opulent Reine. | @reine.larue

41. Bouvardia

2/169 Bourke St, Melbourne

If it feels like the cocktails at Bouvardia are rather modern, that’s because the approach is — the cocktail list (all san serif fonts and bold colour) helpfully lists the Brix, pH and ABV levels of each cocktail (among other things); but the drinks are anything but clinical, with full on flavour delivered in each glass. It’s a bar that’s more than a little different to the other kids, and that’s a good thing. | @bouvardiamelbourne

42. Bar Clara

87 Little Bourke St, Melbourne

If Bar Clara is known for any one of its signature drinks, it’s probably the Banoffee Special. It’s a clarified banana-infused Whisky Sour, and topped with a toasted merinque — and a thing of beauty. But it’s not just the flavoursome and technique driven cocktails that you’re coming to Bar Clara for, but for the gilded lounge bar feel and bartenders who eschew pretension. What else do you want in a cocktail bar? | @barclaramelbourne

43. Cherry Bar

68 Little Collins St, Melbourne

It’s a Melbourne icon and institution. Though it no longer lives down AC/DC Lane, having moved just down the road in 2019, Cherry Bar is still all about the music, man. | @cherrybarmelb

44. Spleen

41 Bourke St, Melbourne

In our experience — and perhaps it’s the company we keep — as the night wears on, past the witching hour and unto the early morning, it’s only a matter of time until one in your party suggests the next stop: Spleen. Here, the bar is open until 5am, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the bartenders are saints, such is the good work they do watering the thirsty. | @barspleen

45. Nick & Nora's Melbourne

80 Collins Street via 11 Benson Walk, Melbourne

Nick & Nora’s might be Melbourne’s busiest cocktail bar. The bar comes from the Speakeasy Group, and you can expect their signature style — theatrical serves, a preference for the finer things, and a buzzy, upbeat atmosphere — to be on full display here. Cocktails and champagne are the order of the day — you might even see the odd bottle of champagne being sabred, or better yet, a champagne tower being built. | @nickandnorasmelbourne

46. The Shady Lady

36 Johnston St, Fitzroy

This Fitzroy bar is part dive bar, part community centre, but it’s no old man bar — it’s a whole lot more grandma thanks to the furnishings, tasseled lamp shades, and framed paintings on the walls. The weekends bring DJs to The Shady Lady, and like any good dive, the drinks don’t cost an arm and a leg. |

47. Manhattan Bar

9 James St, Geelong

At Manhattan Bar, the clue is in the name. The bar comes from the team behind the award-winning Geelong cocktail joint, The 18th Amendment Bar, and is less classic cocktail den than it is blue neon-hued, 90s Lower East Side dive. Cocktails are batched and on tap, but yeah, should you wish, you can get yourself a jelly shot administered with a plastic syringe (we’d rather knock back a Pornstar Martini or two.)


48. Odd Culture Fitzroy

296 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

They’re about all things fermented at the first Victorian outpost of the Newtown-based franchise. They’re pouring natural wine, wild ales, ferment-based cocktails and everything in between. Our suggestion? Get started with the pineapple Tepache, and then stroll the bottled wine aisles (you can takeaway, too) to discover where you want to go next. | @oddculturefitzroy/

49. Bad Frankie

139-141 Greeves St, Fitzroy

It’s the original all-Australian spirits bar — one that has been shouting about quality Aussie hooch since 2015. That’s good enough reason to step through the doors, although you might find yourself being lured there by the heady aromas wafting from their Breville jafflemakers. | @badfrankiebar

50. Renard

209 Mair St, Ballarat Central

Owners Teddy and Louis Powlett have imbued Renard with a very simple mission: to provide good times to the people. And their chosen delivery vehicle for such good times? Cocktails and wine, my friends. Native ingredients and Australian flavours figure on the cocktail list alongside more Continental pleasures; there’s a healthy canned beer list, and a mix of Australian and European drops on the wine list. | @renardballarat