Hidden bars have been a staple of Melbourne’s bar culture for decades, with cocktail lovers constantly on the hunt for new finds.
The scene is endlessly evolving, so we asked Campari National Bar Advocacy Manager Krystal Hart to give us the low-down on her favourite haunts and why Melburnians love them so much.
“Melbourne’s grid-like CBD is brimming with side streets, laneways, nooks and crannies,” Hart said.
“You would think that these hidden bars would struggle to get people inside, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. These bars are always humming with patrons, however are never over-crowded. It’s the perfect environment for intimate drinks while maintaining a vibe.”
Here are some of Hart’s top spots in Melbourne and her recommended cocktails to drink there.
103 Lonsdale Street
Hidden from the streets of the city, with divine views and even better cocktails, Bomba Rooftop overlooks Lonsdale Street’s leafy treetops to the north and has stunning views of Melbourne’s CBD to the south. Better yet, DJ’s from Hope St Radio play at the venue every Friday and Saturday night.
Hart’s favourite Bomba cocktail: Orchard Negroni – Campari, spiced pear white port and apple brandy.
Basement 111, Lonsdale Street
The door to Bar Margaux is plain and just says “MGX”, but when it opens you’re met with a vibrant buzz of music and chatter. With a boldly French menu, Bar Margaux brings together the best of New York, France and of course Melbourne.
Hart’s favourite Margaux cocktail: Petit Boulevardier – Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Campari.
Lay Low Bar
93 Buckley Street, Seddon
Enter through an unassuming grey door, follow a dark and narrow corridor and you’ll find Lay Low Bar. A neighbourhood bar with world class cocktails, Hart’s pick from the Lay Low menu is one of their takes on a tried and true classic, the Negroni.
Hart’s favourite Lay Low cocktail: Old Pal – The Gospel Straight Rye, Campari, Oscar 697 Extra Dry Vermouth.
Union Electric Bar
13 Heffernan Lane
From the outside, Union Electric looks like an old, abandoned boat shed. From the inside, you could say that Union Electric Bar has it all. By ‘it all’ we mean a party-starting bar, a rooftop and a cocktail list to die for – all hidden up a set of stairs in a killer Chinatown location. The bar champions fresh produce, each day pressing, juicing and infusing all manner of fruits, herbs and botanicals.
Hart’s favourite Union Electric cocktail: Wax On (pictured main) – honeycomb, Geraldton Wax, French Rum, Aperol, Peychaud’s Bitters.
306 Smith St, Collingwood
Above Board is a small intimate award winning cocktail bar with only 16 seats. Hidden down the laneway just off Smith & Perry Street in Collingwood, climb the stairs to Above Board to experience the futuristic atmosphere and punchy cocktail list.
Hart’s favourite Above Board cocktail: Empire Strikes Bax – Amaro, Campari, Sweet Vermouth, Cold Drip Coffee.