The Best Small Bars in Melbourne to Wine & Dine at
Cosy up this winter with wines and cocktails at the best small bars in Melbourne.
Few things rival the pleasure of an intimate tête-a-tête at a cosy small bar. Sure, there are times when you’re in the mood for a big, brash party-starting venue where you can jostle and boogie, but the pleasure of a warm fire, conversation with your bartender, and being able to hear your company? Priceless. Our favourite small bars in Melbourne all offer up amazing drinks and service, with gentle vibes to match.
A drink at Romeo Lane always feels special. Softly lit and effortlessly intimate, this supremely cosy bar offers sit-down service and some of the best concoctions in Melbourne. A fireplace and antique fixings hark to the bar’s previous life as the living room of a 19th-century residence, but the creative cocktails and European small plates now being served are thoroughly modern.
1A Crossley Street, Melbourne
Hayden Lambert’s tiny 16-seat cocktail bar is one of the most acclaimed in Melbourne. The exclusivity allows his team to give each visitor personalised service, and the resulting experience is like those you’d find in Tokyo or London. Expect a regularly rotating list of cocktails that take inspiration from Lambert’s years working all over the world.
306 Smith Street, Collingwood
While a few dozen can drink al fresco outside in Presgrave Place, only a lucky 10 people can fit inside Bar Americano. Snug and standing room-only, a vintage blue tabacchi (Italian for ‘tobacco’) sign marks out the 1930s-inspired venue, where you’ll be served a selection of exactingly prepared classic cocktails that change in accordance with the bar’s whim.
20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne
Housed in a tiny heritage cottage in the CBD is Little Lon Distilling Co, a micro distillery creating small batch, craft gin. Licensed for just 20 people, they house a gin still in one room and fermentation tanks in another. Book in for a masterclasses that includes a tour of the digs and guided tastings of their various infused gins – think rhubarb and violette, or fresh lychees – or simply drop by for a refreshing gin cocktail to enjoy at the bar.
17 Casselden Place, Melbourne
Tucked inside a Chinatown laneway is good times bar Union Electric, a favourite with the after-work crowd for their hip hop-heavy playlist and great cocktails. It’s only a few people wide so it climbs upwards instead, giving patrons those sought after rooftop party vibes. They’re big on fresh fruits, herbs and botanicals – using them to spark up tiki cocktails and refreshing highballs – and the bar staff are some of the friendliest in town.
13 Heffernan Lane, Melbourne
This secret tiki bar hidden behind a sub sandwich shop epitomises the cool and quirky side of Melbourne. Step behind the fake cooler room door and you'll be faced with a dim, buzzy bar from which animated bartenders shake up tropical cocktails with a side of A+ banter. Pot plants and knick knacks add to the off-kilter vibe, and if you get peckish, well, you know a sandwich is never far away.
96 Chapel St, Windsor
Off Little Collins St is this adorably tiny laneway bar from which a caravan serves fun-loving cocktails, beers and wine. There’s mezcal hot chocs for winter, a full spritz menu for summer, even mimosas and bloody marys for day drinking. The seating area is covered by a canopy of flowers and fairy light, creating a magical mood for your sundown rounds.
322 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Behind much-loved Southeast Asian eatery Luxsmith is a hybrid bar-bottleshop that fits just 30 within its cosy confines. Pick up a bottle to take away or enjoy inside, with a range that meanders from familiar European styles to more adventurous drops. Alternatively, choose from a snappy list of cocktails that are perfect for pre-dinner drinks or a post-dinner nightcap. Impressively tall shelves of wine divide the space into multiple nooks, perfect for intimate catchups.
5 Gamon Street, Seddon
Snug, lively and an undisputed neighbourhood institution, Gerald’s is the local’s local. Rambunctious in both atmosphere and offering, they’re a destination for wine lovers with a cellar numbering well over 200. Expect as many new age, funky drops as there are classics, ideal for sharing alongside their constantly changing menu of European bistro dishes.
386 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North
Accommodating up to 28 people in their intimate mezzanine dining space, this Collingwood wine bar is one of the most exciting places to eat and drink in Melbourne. Sleek and modern yet warm and welcoming, they're running a top notch wine list comprising both classics and new-wave drops, accompanied by creative dishes making the most of local produce.
49 Peel Street, Collingwood
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