We're in Melbourne for the 2013 World Barista Championship, our first visit to this splendid city. How do you write a guide for a city if you've never been? Easy. We polled a dozen Melbourne residents and frequent visitors with excellent taste on their very favorite places to eat, drink, and have a coffee in the city. Read more features like this one in our Melbourne Sprudge Guides hub!
Because drinking and coffee events go perilously hand in hand, there may be no more important guide than this one. Like our dining, coffee, breaky and pub guides, it was an exercise in controlled impossibility to narrow down this city's choices of great bars into 10 recommended spots. But fortunately the folks we polled all seemed to be in agreement on the basics – wine here is awesome, cocktails are great, and the great beer options abound. Be sure to consult our other guides in addition to this, as there's quite a bit of crossover between restaurants and bars in this fair city.
But seriously, on the wine thing, it's almost as though Aussies take their plethora of delicious wines for granted. It's gobsmacking how much great wine there is to drink here. Even if you aren't a wine drinker by default, try it out. Take a chance and you may well be handsomely rewarded.
The Aylesbury (103 Lonsdale Street) – Melbourne is a wine town, and the Aylesbury is a great spot to dig in to that scene. Their wine list has what you're expecting – carefully curated Shiraz choices from the Yarra Valley, Pinots from Yarra and elsewhere throughout Victoria – as well as some fun designations like “Textured Whites” and “Grenache and Friends”. It's all about the rooftop seating here, a covered and heated situation where you're welcome to enjoy a fine cigar, if so inclined.
Black Pearl (304 Brunswick Fitzroy) – A cocktail institution in the middle of Fitzroy that stays low key on weeknights, and becomes something of a suave madhouse on weekends. Order your favorite classic cocktail here and soak in the scenery.
Cumulus Up (45 Flinders Ln) – The upstairs wine bar at Cumulus Inc (featured in our dining guide), this is another top choice in Melbourne's sprawling dossier of wine destinations. They've got a climate controlled cellar to keep their vintages tasting great, and a small plates menu to pair with all that good vino (one of our polling team gushed about the “foie gras waffles”). Esteemed and classy by all accounts.
The Everleigh (1/150-156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy) – Another option for great cocktails, with a beautiful interior, a deep selection of fine spirits, and an overall air of sophistication. This is the sister bar of Milk & Honey in New York City. If the enjoyment of fine cocktails is a component part of how you travel, place this spot high on your list.
Hihou (1 Flinders Ln) – Japanese in spirit and presentation, one must politely ring the bell and be chaperoned up to gain entry at Hihou. Winner of Time Out Melbourne's “Best New Bar” award for 2012, this place features several Japanese inversions on classic cocktails, plus a deep selection of sake and shochu. And yes, of course there's tsukemono and sashimi drinking snacks to go alongside your drinks. This is the cocktail arm of Izakaya Den, featured elsewhere in our Melbourne guides.
Lily Blacks (17 Meyers Pl) – A cosmopolitan Melbourne laneway bar, with classics and new creations sharing space on their sprawling, inventive cocktail menu. Expect to pay New York City prices, look for an armada of housemade bitters and tinctures, and geek out about the multifaceted rum and bourbon Old Fashion options. This is probably where we'd go first with our cocktail nerd friends back home.
The Long Play (318 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy) – A cocktail and wine bar in Fitzroy with a miniature cinema in its back room! The interior is all Danish minimalism, there are European apertifs aplenty, and reasonably priced small plates. Nothing too fancy, tastefully appointed, and did we mention the movie theater?
The Melbourne Supper Club (1st/161 Spring St) – Broadsheet Melbourne called this spot “arguably the city's best bar”, and they've got hours til 6am on weekends. Huge wine list, spirits, oysters, and a cigar bar upstairs called Siglo…
Siglo (2/161 Spring St) – The aforementioned rooftop cigar bar above The Melbourne Supper Club. Did you know that Cuban cigars are totally legal in Australia? They've got 'em here, with more detail than you knew imaginable and a humidor to make even the uninitiated curious. Worried about the cold? They've got heaters. Just want a drink? Spirits and wine are cheerfully available. Drinking on a budget? Maybe not here you aren't. Friends with a wealthy coffee magnate? This would be a fine place to suggest.
Whisky & Alement (270 Russell St) – Melbourne might be 10,000 miles from Edinburgh, but that hasn't slowed down this Scotch spot one bit. They've got drams and drams of the good stuff for you to enjoy, plus classes and and regularly scheduled events all year long. Yes, there is Scotch in Melbourne, and it's here – you knew we'd find it, right?
Loop back ’round to our Melbourne info portal, why don’t you? Good on ya!