Hunt down the best hidden bars in Melbourne for swanky cocktails and speakeasy vibes
If there’s one thing Melbourne is good for, it’s creating little hidden spaces behind the city’s eye to help people escape the hustle and bustle.
Hidden bars are just so much more fun than normal bars, and Melbourne seems to have them beneath almost every restaurant, behind your local supermarket, or above your own apartment building.
Figuring out how to access each one, what password you’ll need, or what laundry bar you’ll have to sneak past to gain entry just adds to the anticipation and excitement of the night, and let’s be real, is it even worth going to if you can simply just walk in off the street?
Here are some of the best hidden bars in Melbourne and where to find them, in no particular order.
Hidden under the busy streets of Collingwood lies a world of luxury and ultimate sophistication.
Above Board is not your usual bar in any way. Instead of people drinking, dancing, and mingling you’re met with a very intimate space that will only sit around 16 people in total. Bar co-owner Hayden Lambert has specifically intended for this small space as instead of a large drinks menu he has created a list of 20 cocktails that have been perfected over years of experience in the bar industry. Stepping off the graffiti-lined strip of Smith Street, you’ll walk into a world that is very similar to that of Japan.
There is a no-back bar stacked with random bottles, everything has a designated place and all spirits are poured out of decanters. Each delicious drink has been simply curated with no more than four ingredients, adding to the very minimalistic and contemporary vibe that Above Board is dripping in.
Location: 1/306 Smith Street Chopper Lane, behind Beermash and through the back door, Collingwood
Goldilocks Rooftop Bar
Just as Goldilocks tried all of the chairs before she found the perfect one, we’re sure that out of all the bars you’ve been to, Goldilocks is in the running to be ‘Just Right’.
Debatably the perfect magical bar, they truly embody what their name stands for. Hidden up on the city’s rooftop above Swanston street, the bar can prove difficult to find, however is definitely worth tracking down for your next Saturday drinks night. Fairy lights and the beautiful Melbourne skyline make for the perfect Instagram story and paired with one of their house-made cocktails you’ll be set for the night.
You’ll have to try their ‘Too Cold’ cocktail, which consists of aubury watermelon, baxters vodka, lemon juice and topped off with a watermelon popsicle – picture perfect!
Location: Level 5, 264 Swanston Street
Pizza Pizza Pizza
Melbourne is full of secrets, but could this be the best kept one?
Pizza Pizza Pizza serves up some of the city’s finest slices of cheesy heaven. However, the best part of this tiny pizza joint is the secret lying out the back that almost nobody knows about. If you stick around long enough you’ll find that there is a thick black curtain hiding an exciting secret- an uber cool 70s designed cocktail bar with boujee booths, a DJ and some of the city’s best cocktails. This place is a reminder to never judge a book by its cover, as most people come and go without even knowing that this bar exists.
Currently nameless (which adds to the secrecy) you can find old-fashioned frozen Pina Coladas, house shakes, and house shots as some of the drink choices. It’s a spot like this that make you question what is hiding behind your local fish and chips shop or local corner store, you never know what hidden gems you might find.
Location: 16 Meyers Pl, Melbourne
Beneath Driver Lane
Beneath Driver Lane is still a hidden bar, but its name gives you a huge hint as to where it is located.
Just off Little Bourke Street and literally beneath Driver Lane lays a boozy, vintage bar that screams 1920s speakeasy. If you like whiskey, blues, cocktails, and personal service then you’ll fall in love with this bar. Descending down into this world of swanky decor you’ll find an extensive list of cocktails and a french inspired food menu that is open until 3 am, 7 nights a week!
Each month the bar highlights a new bottle of gin or vodka to specialise in their monthly ‘Nitro Martini’ which comes at a discounted price and also features liquid nitrogen which makes for quite the show.
Location: 3, Driver Ln, Melbourne
In Melbourne’s prime days Chinatown was known for housing several opium dens until they became illegal in 1905. Now, even though the dens are long gone their spirit and furnishings live on in bars like Manchuria.
Debatably one of the best hidden bars in Melbourne, yet still one of the best-kept secrets, Manchuria has been open for over 15 years supplying residents with one of the greatest escapes from the real world. Think Asian fusion meets modern-day Melbourne and that’s exactly what Manchuria is; elegant, sophisticated, and on top of all packing a huge history.
Finding this little hideaway is of course a struggle, you’ll have to wander down Warratah Place until you find the dark, dingy staircase that leads to a set of tucked-away doors that open up into this underground world.
Location: Level 1/7-9 Waratah Pl, Melbourne
If you’re looking for somewhere that serves martinis, manhattans, and cheeseburgers until 5 am then Bar Margaux has got you covered.
You’ll find this Parisian-inspired bistro bar on Lonsdale Street at the bottom of a staircase, where the only indication of the bar is the simple neon lit-up letters ‘MGX’. Their menu is completely built off French bistro classics, serving up cocktails, an extensive wine list, and comfort food until the early hours of the morning.
Specialised French-trained chef Daniel Southern has handcrafted their menu including delicacies from escargot d’Bourgogne finished with Pernod butter and toasted breadcrumbs to three different types of French steaks.
Location: Basement/111 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
If you were a crazy Narnia fan growing up (or maybe you still are) then this bar is going to get you very excited!
To enter Trinket Bar you will need to push aside the fancy gowns inside the old antique wardrobe that acts as the portal to the magical hidden cellar that lies below. Plush booths, velvet-covered walls and dim-lit tables make for the perfect place to bring a date or simply just soak up the opulence with some friends.
Every Sunday they host ‘Sunday Sips’ which are dedicated to bottomless cocktails, boozy bites and a different featured cocktail each week. You can choose from six boozy bites and a cocktail for $45 per person or six boozy bites and two hours of bottomless bubbles, spritzes, and beer for $55 per person.
Location: 87 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
Eau De Vie
If Eau De Vie were a person, they’d have stepped straight out of 1920s prohibition America.
They specialise in whiskey, so if that’s your drink of choice you’ll fit right in. The classy bar is hidden beyond a bookcase tucked down a Melbourne laneway, so finding it could be a bit of a mission. Once inside, you’ll be delighted with dimly lit jazz speakeasy vibes and an expert team of bartenders who will transport you to the forgotten era of top service, cocktails, Tommy guns and good times.
Location: 1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne
Fall From Grace
State of Grace has a huge secret beneath their floorboards; Fall from Grace. A true ode to the 1920s speakeasy era with crystal chandeliers, vintage accessories, and a lavish selection of different drinks.
From Thursday to Sunday you can find people sneaking away from the ground level of Melbourne to indulge in some mischief. Deep red lighting, wooden floorboards, and their European-inspired menu will transport you to 20th-century Paris for the night. And, don’t miss out on their signature ‘Saving Grace’ cocktail which is a reinspired espresso martini with 20.6 vodka, kahlua, Boston black coffee and salted caramel.
Location: 27 King St, Melbourne
In 2021 Melbourne almost lost one of its most iconic secret bar venues, but alas – she’s still here and rounding out our top 10 best hidden bars in Melbourne list.
Madame Brussels had been a huge local hotspot for over 15 years, and unfortunately in July of 2021 they announced its closure due to covid, However, the renowned bar was snapped up and given a second chance at life thanks to venue operators Tom Rattigan (Double Happiness, New Gold Mountain and Lily Blacks owner) and Joshua Stevens (New Gold Mountain owner).
Madame Brussels is like stepping out of Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole. A very random doorway and a shuddering elevator ride will give you access to one of Melbourne’s first rooftop bars. Complete with garden walls, cupcakes, faux grass, rose and sun lounges this hidden bar is truly like stepping into the scene of one of your favourite childhood movies.
Location: 3/59 Bourke St, Melbourne
Feature Image: @trinketmelbourne
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