What’s the price of a cocktail, and which are the leading brands, in Victoria’s best bars?

A look at what the most influential bars are pouring right now.

What’s the price of a cocktail, and which are the leading brands, in Victoria’s best bars?
What's the average price of a cocktail in Victoria's best bars? Photo: Dominic Xavier

What’s the price of a cocktail these days?

It’s higher than it used to be, that’s for certain. We live in expensive times. There’s broad public concern that prices are increasing quicker than they should across the board. The rent for both private and commercial spaces is too damn high.

And our bars are not immune to this. The price of a cocktail now often hits at $25 or higher, particularly on the menus at the bars at the pointy end of town, and the inputs into those drinks — the spirits, the rent, produce, and yes, staff costs too — have been on the rise.

A litre of pure alcohol now attracts an excise tax of $101.85, too, making spirits ever more expensive.

It’s against that background that I wanted to delve a little deeper, and it’s why we’ve analysed the drinks lists from the bars on the Top 50 of the Boothby Best Bars in Victoria. Hopefully the results give bartenders and operators a sense of where pricing is at, which brands are getting traction, and which cocktail categories are well-served.

What does the research tell us? We’ve been able to glean the average price of a cocktail across Victoria, the Melbourne CBD, and the cocktail bar hub of Fitzroy and Collingwood. We can tell you how many cocktails are on the average list, which spirit categories pick up the largest share of cocktails, and which brands are listed the most frequently among the top 50 bars in Victoria.

A note about the Boothby Best Bars in Victoria list: the list was compiled back in September of 2023, and we’ve looked at their menus over the course of late January and February. Some bars don’t list brands, some menus are impossible to lay hands on, and a couple of the bars have closed (Par in Fitzroy and Charlie’s in Bendigo). This list of bars is also something of a proxy for the most influential bars in Victoria — the list was voted for by a 100-plus panel of bartenders, owners, and drinks industry operatives. You can see the full list of bars right here.

Let’s get a look at the results.