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Unlock Melbourne's hidden gems

All the latest and greatest places to eat, drink, stay and play in your city.

 
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Melbourne’s Coolest Underground Bars

What is it about being below surface that makes a bar so alluring? Away from the bustle of the outside world, moods shift, mystery elevates, and all kinds of late-night mischief ensues. From plush speakeasies and candlelit cocktail lounges to underground arcade halls, we’ve whittled down the best subterranean drinking spots in the city, guaranteed to take you way past midnight. These are the underground bars in Melbourne you need to know about.

Beneath Driver Lane

Tucked behind the grand GPO building, Beneath Driver Lane is doubly hard to find but equally worth the effort. Listen to blues and drink Martinis blasted with liquid nitrogen as you settle into cosy leather booths lit by candlelight. Peckish? The kitchen serves bar snacks including jamon croquettes and moules marinière all the way till 3am.

3 Driver Ln, Melbourne

Bodega Underground

Educate yourself in mezcal, tequila’s in-vogue relative, at this underground bar and taqueria specialising in the smoky Mexican spirit. They offer seventy varieties to sip straight or in punchy cocktails like the Ancho, which blends jalapeno mezcal with grilled lime, agave and chili salt. Spy an eclectic décor of fairy lights, film posters, prints and other knick-knacks accumulated from travels to Mexico.

55 Little Bourke St, Melbourne

Harley House

This basement bar-meets-art gallery champions Peru’s national tipple by remixing the Pisco Sour a dozen different ways - for example, the Picasso Sour matches it with Cointreau, absinthe, lime and egg white. Round chesterfield booths ooze New York vibes, with candles and crystal lamps lighting up the subterranean space.

71 Collins St, Melbourne

The Mill House

Raw concrete, bluestone pillars and painted brick walls give the Mill House a bunker-like feel, as post-work and pre-party drinks kick off with Mojito carafes and Peruvian fried chicken. Stay for one or stay a while - with DJs in house, it’s commonplace for a quick drink to turn into a night of dance.

277-279 Flinders Ln, Melbourne

Bartronica

Meet the bar making it cool to play video games in the basement - and you won’t even have to ask mum for permission to go. Here, you can grab a beer and challenge your mates to a round of Donkey Kong, Time Crisis or Smash Brothers, or simply hog a Nintendo64 to yourself.

335 Flinders Ln, Melbourne


The Understudy

Enter this zany cocktail bar through a nondescript wardrobe door below 1806, emerging to find an old-world theatre-themed room decked out with puppets, stuffed parrots and ornate clocks. The drinks are just as attention-grabbing, like the Blood and Sand - inspired by a 1920s silent movie about a bullfighter, it’s a heady mix of Johnnie Black, vermouth, orange and cherry liqueur.

169 Exhibition St, Melbourne

Gin Palace

Palace is a fitting name for this plush speakeasy that’s low-lit by chandeliers, draped with velvet and adorned with gold-framed portraits - it’s the kind of place where the mood changes as the night goes on. They’ve been plying Melbourne with the largest gin collection this side of the equator for some 20 years, and we’d argue they’re getting even better with age.

10 Russell Pl, Melbourne

Fiftyfive

Open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, this CBD basement bar is a go-to for late night antics. Creative types sit shoulder-to-shoulder with city workers, drinking beer and eating pizza under fairy lights, hanging plants and wooden walls that make the bar feel like a mate’s place. There’s DJs on most nights of the week, and an art space hosting shows by local artists.

55 Elizabeth St, Melbourne

Golden Monkey

With dark woods soaked in red light, this cavernous underground bar harks back to the decadence of age-old Shanghai. There’s plenty of space for groups in the roomy lounges at the rear, while on the menu are Asian-inflected cocktails like the China Doll, which features lychee black tea vodka, dragonfruit, goji berry, and lemon.

Rear 389 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Juliet

This sophisticated little spot under Punch Lane celebrates female winemakers, distillers and even cheesemakers. Follow the pink neon light for a sleek yet intimate bar that’ll quickly become a new favourite, but particularly on Thursdays, when they do live jazz and raclette melted tableside.

37 - 41 Little Bourke St, Melbourne