The Definitive Guide to the Best Hidden Bars in Melbourne

Down laneways, behind bookcases & more - Melbourne's secret drinking scene exposed.

Do you get excited by discovering secret bars? We certainly do. Melbourne has plenty of hard-to-find bars; some are behind bookcases and others down dodgy laneways. So here’s our guide to the best hidden bars in Melbourne.

Contents: Hidden Bars
  Presgrave Pl, City
$$

Bar Americano

Bar Americano is 'Melbourne' in a nutshell. This teeny-tiny bar is standing room only, fits ten people, and it's tucked down a laneway with close to zero foot-traffic.

Owned by local artist Matt Bax, it pays 'homage to the 'Golden Age' of drinking, the time of the American Bar.' Think cocktails like the Negroni, Manhattan and Old Fashioned.

To find it, enter Howey Place and then venture to the end of Presgrave Place.

Bar Americano also ranks as one of the city's best laneway bars.

  Malthouse Lane, City
$$

Eau de Vie

Eau de Vie (French for 'water of life') has a knack for theatrics; this whiskey and cocktail bar serves drinks with liquid nitrogen, fire, and fairy floss.

It is a local favourite, and has taken out several bar awards since opening in 2011.

Tucked down a laneway you wouldn't give a second glance, the only giveaway is a vintage streetlamp that hangs above the wooden door.

The same team also operate Mjølner - a Viking inspired restaurant and bar, and one of Melbourne's best themed bars.

  King St, City
$$

State of Grace

State of Grace is three venues in one - part restaurant, part rooftop-bar and part secret cellar bar.

The hidden bar is appropriately called Fall From Grace, and hands down has one of the best secret entrances in Melbourne.

On the ground level, you'll see a bookcase, and if you pull the right book it will slide open to reveal a stairway. Head down and you'll find yourself in Fall From Grace.

  Croft Alley, City
$

The Croft Institute

The Croft Institute was the pioneer of Melbourne's hidden bar scene. Opening in the mid-2000s, this science-inspired bar is at the end of winding laneway in Chinatown.

To find it,  walk past the overflowing bins, take two turns and continue past the street-art covered walls. Only when you reach what looks like a dead-end, will you have arrived.

The decor is reminiscent of a high-school science class; The Croft is decorated with bunsen burners, and instead of straws, they serve their drinks with empty syringes.

  Franklin St, City
$$
Our Pick

Mary’s

It took seven years for this Sydney bar to open in Melbourne, and we’re thankful they did. Mary’s serves great burgers and plenty of bourbon, all delivered with their 'don't give a f**k attitude.'

This charismatic lass is squeezed down a city laneway, with the only giveaway the red light and some permanent marker scribble on the door.

If you are looking for a good time, and want to throw away all pretense, then Mary's is waiting for you.

  Meyers Pl, City
$$

Pizza Pizza Pizza

In Meyer's Place there is a New York style joint called Pizza Pizza Pizza. This hole in the wall serves giant pizza by the slice.

It's unassuming, but it holds a mighty-big secret.

Gather up the courage, and walk past the sign that reads 'staff only' and push through the black curtain. With enough grit, you'll step into an intimate cocktail bar.

Technically this bar has no name, and that's fine with us. Their creative cocktail menu provides everything we could need for a great (and late) night.

  Waratah Pl, City
$$

Manchuria

In Melbourne's early days, Chinatown housed several opium dens until they were eventually deemed illegal in 1905. While they're long gone, their furnishings live on in Manchuria.

This Chinatown cocktail bar has no signage and is near impossible to stumble upon.

Wander down Warratah Place, until you find a dark staircase - about halfway down. Wander up and on your left, there's a large wooden door; this is the entrance to Manchuria.

Inside you’ll find a collection of booths, pillows and plenty of nooks. Their potent 'Zombie' cocktail is well known for being the catalyst to a big night.

  Lonsdale St, City
$$

Bar Margaux

Not only one of our favourite cocktail bars, but this gem is also difficult to find. Bar Margaux is an underground French bar & bistro, from the same team as The Everleigh.

You'll find it on Lonsdale Street at the bottom of a staircase; look for their neon sign that simply reads 'MGX.'

Bar Margaux sports a decadent French menu - snails, duck fritte, crème brûlée - all paired with world-class cocktails, including half serves of Martinis and Manhattans (appropriately called snack-size cocktails.)

The opening hours are long, and the outside world so effortlessly disappears as soon as you arrive.

  Corrs Lane, City
$$

Berlin Bar

This bar gets a little political. Berlin is split into two halves; one end represents east Berlin and the other, the west.

The east side is the communist side, under the regime of dictator Joseph Stalin. It's beat-down and wartorn.

While 'The West' runs under capitalism and oozes in opulence. The sofas are plush and diamonds hang from the ceiling.

To find Berlin, take the stairs off Corrs Lane to the second floor. Ring the doorbell and the staff will let you in.

  1 Flinders Lane, City
$$

Hihou

Japanese for ‘secret treasure” this hidden cocktail bar has zero signage, and you’re not allowed to let yourself in.

To enter Hihou, buzz the doorbell next to the non-descript door and wait. Seconds later a staff member will be down to let you in.

Choose from a selection of Japanese inspired cocktails - our recommendation is the Sayonara Jin - or try some of their shochu (a Japanese alcohol made from grains and vegetables.)

  87 Flinders Lane, City
$$

Trinket

This hidden bar is straight out of Narnia.

On the ground-level, Trinket is an opulent cocktail bar. But there is a large wardrobe not far from the entrance.

Open the wardrobe, push past the hanging clothes and the back will slide open. Head down the stairs, into this hidden cocktail lounge.

The cellar bar is small, so best to come outside of peak hours when you're guaranteed a seat.

  Mornane Pl, City
$$

Arlechin

Arlechin is at the end of Mornane Place, and there's nothing else down there except for some garbage bins. This bar has no signage, so you won't know it's there until you're at the door.

This space was initially used as wine storage for Grossi Florentino, a long-standing Italian restaurant on Bourke Street, but they decided to turn it into a cocktail bar instead.

Arlechin has a love for wine, cocktails and small Italian bites.

  96 Chapel St, Windsor
$$

Jungle Boy

Jungle Boy is another cocktail bar hidden behind a door you wouldn't expect.

This tiny tiki cocktail bar is behind a New York inspired sandwich joint.

Step into Boston Sub on Chapel Street, and you'll see a large freezer door to the right; this is the entrance to Jungle Boy.

Step through and discover a hidden paradise, serving tropical cocktails paired with some small American bites.

  Swanston St, City
$$

Goldilocks

Most hidden bars are underground, but this one is on a rooftop.

Goldilocks is an intimate rooftop bar that sits five stories high, overlooking Swanston Street. It's a popular local secret, and with it's covered roof is busy all year round.

To reach the top you'll need to take the dingy looking elevator from the ground floor.

It's also one of the best rooftop bars in Melbourne.

  Chopper Lane, Collingwood
$$

Above Board

Above Board is one of a kind.

There's no back-bar lined with bottles, in fact aside from the wooden bar, there's hardly anything to be seen at all. And there are only 12 seats: Absolutely no standing allowed.

And yet, Above Board been recognised as one of the top 100 bars in the world.

To find this gem, head past Beer Mash down Chopper Lane (it's not listed on Google Maps) and up the stairs.

There's a no booking policy, so best not to come with a large group.

  Hardware Lane, City
$$

Golden Monkey

Golden Monkey is directly out of 1920's Shanghai. This underground bar is on Hardware Lane, one of the city's most popular laneways.

Take the staircase down, and you'll come into a dimly lit room, with red neon lights and wooden separators.

With its old-world charm, Golden Monkey lets you drink and dance the night away.

More expert tips by our tour guides:

The Best Laneways in Melbourne
The Best Views in Melbourne
The Best Arcades in Melbourne
The Best Parks & Gardens in Melbourne
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