Best New Bars in Melbourne: Must-tries in 2021
Looking for a cool new drinking spot? We have got you covered with our edit of the best new bars in Melbourne to try this year.
Every Melburnian has a local they’re loyal to, but we’re always looking for excellent new watering holes to frequent, whether they’re hidden underground or high in the sky. From classy basement cocktail bars and laneway hangouts to refined European wine bars, Melbourne’s never-ending late-night list is one that never disappoints. Next time you’re heading out for a cocktail (or two) take inspiration from one of these trendy hangouts. Here are the best new bars in Melbourne to try this month and beyond.
While Brunswick East and Brunswick proper are thick with popular bars and pubs, Brunswick West hasn’t had much by way of nightlife to date. New wine bar Shabooh Shoobah is hoping to change that, flying in with sophisticated tipples and snacks in a bid to become the neighbourhood’s go-to local. Named after an INXS album, they envision themselves as a place for lazy afternoon drinks that morph into dinner as you nibble on artichoke and manchego gildas. Wine is primarily Victorian with a few European labels, alongside Coburg Lager on tap and batched classic cocktails.
59A Melville Road, Brunswick West
Bimbo’s back – but under a new name. The beloved Fitzroy disco-pub has been closed for the entirety of the pandemic, but with a new operator at the helm they’re ready to reopen. Now called Kewpie (after the iconic Kewpie doll adorning its exterior), much of what you know and love about the place remains – that means wildly cheap pizzas ($5, if you’re asking), those dangerously delicious infused vodkas and guaranteed good times.
376 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
The Exchange Hotel’s pop-up beach club is back this summer, and it’s just what the doctor ordered after our long stretch indoors. Cabanas, oysters, cocktails on tap – it’s all happening here, while a container kitchen spins out lobster rolls, wagyu sliders and ice cream sandwiches to keep you cool. Book a daybed for ultimate relaxation (plus table service), and you can even bring your pooch along for the fun.
Cnr Beach and Bay Streets, Port Melbourne
Best New Bars in Melbourne: September
Brunswick East has scored itself a new local with Teller, a modern all-day pub and diner housed in the former State Savings Bank of Victoria building. They’ve given the historic building a sleek refresh, fitting it with a roomy beer garden, upstairs function space and open-plan eatery drenched with skylight sunshine. Drop by for craft beers on tap and cleverly updated pub food such as battered fish and chips with pickled fennel and sauce gribiche. They’ve created some fun, bank-themed cocktails too – the “Who Shot the Bank Teller” combines Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz with rare dry gin and lemonade.
81 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Hearts were broken when beloved pub Penny Black shuttered its doors in 2020, so many will be buoyed to hear that the Sydney Road legend is back. Now named simply Penny’s, the venue has been carefully refurbished and given a Japanese bent, with a menu to match that includes yakiniku sandos, miso eggplant rice cakes and matcha crème brûlée. And don’t worry, live music is very much still part of Penny's DNA, with the stage ready for gigs when restrictions ease. In the meantime, you can kick back and enjoy catchups in the multilevel beer garden out back.
420 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Yes, that’s right, Brunswick has had another pub reopening, with the Sarah Sands Hotel minted with a fresh $2 million refurb. The 150-year-old venue has been closed for over three years, during which the original facade was restored and the interior converted into a two-storey bar and kitchen. The new Sarah Sands is light and airy with a décor full of mint greens and natural light, making it a perfect place to drop by with mates for a casual bevvy and feed.
29 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Best New Bars in Melbourne: August
Glen Iris gets its first brewery and she’s a beauty. Deeds Taproom has taken its time (five years, to be exact) to get the formula right and the result is a dramatic two storey space full of dark steel and wood, with fermentation tanks acting as a backdrop for the bar. Perch upstairs to people-watch as you drink your way across 28 taps, from cloudy IPAs to experimental brews such as a lamington brown ale and vanilla porter. To eat there’s polished modern Australian share plates making use of the stock – think beer cheese whipped potatoes, Deeds draught-battered blue grenadier and stout brownies for dessert.
4 Paran Place, Glen Iris
Clinton McIver, the chef behind lauded fine diner Amaru, has opened an exciting new wine bar across the road. Auterra launches with almost 300 bottles on the list, featuring approachable wines all the way to rare champagnes worth balling out on. Of course, the food is a huge drawcard, and here McIver has put together a funky selection of snacks including smoked kangaroo tartare with rye and anchovy, spanner crab doughnuts and boudin blanc hot dogs. With a cosy main room, courtyard and private dining space for 12, this new venue is perfect for date nights, catch ups and special occasions.
1160 High Street, Armadale
The non-alcoholic drinks movement hits new heights with Brunswick Aces, a spiffy cocktail bar that serves no booze. Billed “Australia’s first permanent non-alcoholic bar”, they stock over 100 beers, wines, spirits and cocktails from producers across the country, including well-known players like McGuigan, Non and Heaps Normal. Try sapiir, a botanical rich spirit, with a splash of tonic, or go for the refreshing Goodness Grace, in which Ovant Grace (a zero alc gin) is paired with lemon, watermelon and coconut rosewater. The place looks just like a classic cocktail bar too, full of dark plush velvet and moody ambience.
124 Weston Street, Brunswick East
Best New Bars in Melbourne: July
Set within the beautiful surrounds of the new Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street, The Douglas Club is an opulent lounge bar split across two rooms. Offering cocktails, cognacs, an extensive wine and champagne selection, and delectable snacks, you may just want to settle in for the evening.
18 Little Queen Street, Melbourne
The signature cocktail list celebrating native Aussie produce sets this drinking spot above the rest. Bouvardia sets the scene for a one-of-a-kind experience with its sumptuous styling (think dim lighting and velvet lounges) and intimate vibes. The wine list is well curated and celebrates local drops, and we can't get enough of the B.A.B; black apple, Australian brandy and basil.
Level 2, 169 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Sitting pretty on New Chancery Lane, Sojourn is Melbourne CBD's newest hangout spot. With both a restaurant and rooftop bar on premise, you can easily spend the afternoon wining and dining. Pair delicious eats and refreshing drinks with the venues cool style, and you're onto a long lunch winner.
501 Bourke Street, New Chancery Lane, Melbourne
Best New Bars in Melbourne: May
Dropping into a much-loved local or crossing town to explore a new bar has never felt so good. Poodle Upstairs is one to put on the list of Melbourne’s newest places to feel the thrill of being out again. Poodle Bar & Bistro is located in the heart of Fitzroy on Gertrude Street and the new Poodle Upstairs is open Friday and Saturday nights for walk-in drinks with a snacking menu different to the downstairs offering. The drinks menu features sixteen classic and signature cocktails, an extensive range of Victorian and European wines, and spirits.
81-83 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Having opened its doors in January, respected Melbourne chef Alejandro Saravia has brought his vision to establish an embassy for Gippsland in the heart of the CBD. All areas of the striking three-level concept champion the true essence of Gippsland, celebrating the diversity and richness of produce from the region. Perched high on the third floor, the Rooftop at Farmer’s Daughters has been designed to bring a little piece of the oasis that is regional Victoria to the city. The rooftop bar offers house-made cocktails, curated beers including the Stringer’s Creek Pilsner; a collaboration between Farmer’s Daughters and Stomping Ground, as well as Gippsland brewer Sailor’s Grave and select wines by the glass.
6/80 Collins Street, Melbourne
Vesper Bistro & Bar has just opened on Toorak Road, offering Melburnians a taste of the Mediterranean islands. Vesper is very ‘Melbourne’ and boasts a secret hidden bar – The Green Room – that opens onto a charming outdoor courtyard with a fountain and cascading greenery perfect for private events, parties, long lunches, and revealing to out-of-towners. The space also has a running nod to James Bond, which the owners can explain if you ask the right questions. The venue has an extremely luxe fit-out, with marble tabletops, gold-gilt Christian Lacroix wallpaper, plush brown leather banquettes, mirrored finishes, and accents of Aegean blue.
23-25 Toorak Road, South Yarra
Best New Bars in Melbourne: April
One can never have too many wine bars on the rotation so here is another to add to your list. The latest project from chef-restaurateur Clinton McIver, Appellation is set to open that the end of this month. The cool little sister of Mclver’s degustation hotspot Amaru (which is just across the road), you can expect great things from both the sips and the snacks which include bites of freshly shucked raw shellfish, mini chicken boudin hotdogs, and smoked Great Ocean duck breast. The kind of place where you stop in for a glass and stay for the bottle, Appellation will be right at home in Armadale.
Opens late April 2021
1160 High Street, Armadale
Best New Bars in Melbourne: March
Embla is taking it to the sky! Discovering the ideal rooftop space atop its Russell Street neighbour – the Melbourne Theosophical Society – owners Christian McCabe and Dave Verheul are launching a drink, dine and viewing concept and have given the space a nice little fit-out to match. Make the most of these balmy nights with sun lounges, yellow striped deck chairs, and a giant 5-metre widescreen. Feast on Embla's signature share plates and kick back on Melbourne's newest rooftop.
Wednesday to Sunday, from 3pm
126 Russell Street, Melbourne, 3000
It's safe to say that the CBD's newest knockoff destination is one of the finer things to come out of 2020. With Ben Luzz, Managing Director of Gin Palace at the wheel, this pint-size bar come bottle store naturally knows a thing or two about gin. Taking inspiration from the century-old dwelling in which it resides, Bijou's rich interiors ooze sophisticated old-world charm well beyond its size. Where the drinks are concerned, look no further than their signature Bijou Cocktail.
194 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
For a bar with beauty benefits, look no further than SOAK Bar + Beauty - a unique salon experience offering the first fully-licensed beauty bar in Victoria. SOAK offers premium beauty services such as spray tans, manicures and blow waves, while giving guests the chance to indulge in a selection of premium cocktails, beer, wine and champagne, as well as petit fours and cheese platters. Already been to the salon? No worries, you can simply walk in for a spritz and sip away the afternoon.
657 Chapel Street, South Yarra
Best New Bars in Melbourne: February
Opening late last year, this retro-dream bar takes its style and menu cues from the groovy 70's. From the floral wallpaper to the disco ball, you'll feel like you have stepped into a time machine...in the best possible way. Pair one of their signature cocktails with an Aussie classic from the 'grub' menu (sausage roll or pie, anyone?), and be sure to take home some merch as a memento of your time travelling experience.
173 Johnston Street, Collingwood
A staple in the Brunswick food, drink and music scene, Howler is bringing a little bit of Palm Springs to the area. Taking over the exact site which once threatened to put an end to the live music haven with plans for residential development, Howlerwood's 150-seat pop-up beer garden is here for a good time not a long time. Kick back sipping on spiked slushies (watermelon margarita anyone?) and nibble on one of Red Sparrow's vegan pizzas from their food truck parked on site.
8 Michael Street, Brunswick
Best New Bars in Melbourne: January
Melbourne’s newest lakeside social, Lake Club by The Smith Prahran has your summer Spritz fix sorted. Perched above Albert Park Lake, it is the perfect spot for casual drinks and nibbles too. Sit back, relax and take in the killer city views in a laidback beach club setting that was made for weekend summer sessions.
34 Lakeside Dr, Albert Park
It’s been around for 100 years and hopefully, it will be around for 100 more. The Hobsons Bay Hotel has undergone a serious refurb thanks to Rustica founder Brenton Lang and his partners Drew Gibbs & Matt Cook. Spread over three levels, the neighbourhood pub in Williamstown comes complete with a cosy rooftop deck and views of the Melbourne skyline across the water.
28 Ferguson St, Williamstown
Half bar and half sustainable wine dispensary, Collingwood's newest tasting room is as good for the planet as it is your palate. We're big fans of try before you buy and Glou allows you to do just that. Perch yourself at the timber tasting bar and sample their curated selection of wines before deciding which one (or four) to take home with you. Wines are exclusively available on tap with three takeaway sizes; 500ml, 1000ml and 2000ml. All bottles are designed to be reused so you can grab yourself a cheeky refill at any time.
310 Smith Street, Collingwood
Looking for more of the best new bars in Melbourne? We've got plenty of delicious eateries and drinking haunts (aka the coolest pubs in Melbourne) to fuel your appetite. From gourmet burgers and Italian pizza joints, to romantic date nights and boozy brunches, we've whittled down the coolest things to do in Melbourne to take you from breakfast to dinner with ease.
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