Melbourne is well-known for its chic laneways, each offering something special to those who walk down it. But did you know they’re also a haven for great restaurants and small bars?
Over the past two decades the number of bars in Melbourne’s laneways have exploded, and with that come some truly unmissable places to visit during your trip to Melbourne.
As a girl who likes a cocktail or two, I hope you enjoy trying some of these places as much as I enjoyed taste testing them… multiple times of course!
The Best Laneway Bars in Melbourne
Cocktails are a serious affair at Bar Americano. If you’ve ever been to Italy, you may have found your way into one of their standing room only coffee shops or aperitivo bars, it’s this approach that the team behind Bar Americano have bought to their standing-room only brick fronted bar on Presgrave Place.
The focus is on beautifully crafted cocktails taken from Robert Vermeire’s classic 1922 tome Cocktails and How to Mix Them, but with a seasonal approach to their menu.
This is a great place to experiment with new drinks or start your night with a cheeky drink, before continuing to more of Melbourne’s best bars.
Address: 20 Presgrave Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000
Eau De Vie
If you are near the East End of Melbourne or looking for an awesome laneway bar near Federation Square, head on over to Eau De Vie. This 1920’s American prohibition era styled bar will take you back to a by-gone era, serving up cocktails & wine, whisky and food.
While there, be sure to head into the Whiskey Room… if you can find it hidden behind a bookcase! Inside you’ll find a large collection of rare and exclusive whiskies.
Eau De Vie is also a great spot to be educated on whiskey and cocktails. Regular masterclasses are held in their Whiskey Room, and a great event to attend with friends or colleagues.
Address: 1 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Ask locals which laneway bar to visit for cocktails and I can assure you Lily Blacks will be mentioned.
Located in the East End (or the ‘Paris End’) or Melbourne, Lily Blacks has an old-school approach to drinking and decor and showcases some of the most inventive and exciting cocktail concoctions around. Classic martinis and other traditional cocktails are on offer alongside ambitious blends of unique ingredients. This art deco-style bar also has numerous beers and ciders on tap and by the bottle, an expansive gin selection and an ever-changing wine list. A shortlist of Spanish-style tapas are also served alongside the drink menu.
Lily Blacks is also home to Iron Bartender (after the cult Japanese television show, Iron Chef), a monthly competition between some of the cities hottest bartenders, to see who makes the best cocktail using a mystery ingredient.
Address: 12 Meyers Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000
A quintessential Melbourne laneway bar, Romeo Lane serves up classic cocktails alongside seasonal small plates. This charming bar is located in what was once a 19th-century residence living room giving the compact space an intimate feel in both size and atmosphere with the open fireplace and soft lighting.
The owners, former colleagues at nearby Lily Blacks, focus on serving up Prohibition era-style drinks and European-style cocktails. You’ll find plenty of sherry, gin and great cognac gracing the menu.
As winners of a number of the cities top awards since its inception, including Best Cocktail bar and Bar of the Year, Romeo Lane is sure to delight all who pass through her doors!
Fun fact: the bar name is a nod to Crossley Street’s colourful past. Back in the mid-1800s, the narrow thoroughfare was at the epicenter of the CBD’s red-light district. While today it’s better known for its fashion, food, and coffee, the laneway was originally called Romeo Lane before a name change in 1876.
Address: 1A Crossley St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Located in an old vacant carpark between Lonsdale Street and Chinatown, Section 8 is one of the hippest bars in town. Many Melbournians won’t know it’s name, but utter the words “container bar” and almost everyone will know this place!
The staff serve drinks from a bar converted from a shipping container, the place is quite possibly hipster heaven, with graffiti-covered walls, wooden pallets strewn about in place of chairs, and steel drums for tables. There’s also plenty of lush greenery!
Always lively, and always playing great music. Section 8 first started as a pop-up has grown so popular that it has cemented its status as ‘the pop-up bar that won’t die’.
Address: 27-29 Tattersalls Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Beneath Driver Lane
If you like whiskey, blues, and cocktails, then Beneath Driver Lane may be your type of bar!
Look for the velvet rope as you walk down Drive Lane, a tiny alleyway off Little Bourke Street, and then descend the stairs to the wrought iron gate doorway into this magic place. Occupying an old bank vault in the heart of the CBD, this charming bar gives Harry Potter vibes with its brick arched booths, candle lit surfaces, and intimate lighting. Blues music will likely be playing on stage, and there’s bound to be one or two people grooving along.
The drink menu is extensive. Expertly made cocktails sit alongside an extensive whiskey menu (160 deep at the time of writing) and more than 70 rums. There’s also a private tasting cellar and large wooden liquor cabinets if you want to store a bottle of spirits until next time.
Be sure to check out their food menu which is almost as good as the drinks! You can get ruben sandwiches, charcuterie boards and more until as late as 2am.
The last time I ventured here there was a $5 cover fee on a Saturday night. It’s not clear if this is the case every night.
Address: Basement/3 Driver Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Union Electric Bar
Many of Melbourne’s best laneway bars seem to be located near Chinatown, and Union Electric Bar is one of them!
This cheeky little laneway cocktail bar and rooftop gin garden is known for their cocktails. The secret to the great cocktails is simple: everything must be fresh! Each day the team press, juice and infuse all sorts of fruits, herbs and botanicals to give your cocktail the little lift it needs to take it from a good cocktail to a great cocktail that will have you coming back for more!
Come enjoy a drink at their (almost) standing room only bar, or head up stairs to their rooftop to enjoy some vitamin D in Chinatown’s hottest bar.
At the time of writing, there is no food menu at Union Electric. They do have a good relationship with New Kum Den next door and can order dumplings and spring rolls from the bar to be delivered to your seat.
Just look for the lightning bolt on Heffernan Lane!
Address: 13 Heffernan Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Truth be told, I came for the flaming doughnut, but I stayed for the drinks and ambiance at Arlechin, one of Melbourne’s newer bars headed by Guy Grossi (yes, that famous restauranter!).
This sweet little laneway bar is easy to miss, but enter down Mornane Place. Entering into the cavernous bar feels like walking inside a wine barrel with the rounded Portages cork roof in sync with the long marble bar and black industrial-chic accents.
While this is a cocktail bar, Grossi’s Italian touch isn’t far away and most noted through their extensive wine list – Arlechin doubles as a wine storage space for the Grossi restaurants located just around the corner.
It wouldn’t be a Grossi establishment without some great Italian food being served up. Think Bolognese jaffles and aglio olio-style Midnight Spaghetti alongside a concise dessert menu.
Address: Mornane Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000
Planning a night out in Melbourne? Read these next:
The Best Hidden Bars in Melbourne
The Best Restaurants in Melbourne for a Casual Dinner
The Best Late Night Places to Eat and Drink in Melbourne
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