Melbourne has some of the coolest bars, pubs and restaurants in the world. Whether they are hidden behind graffitied doorways, down an alley or on a rooftop, all Melbourne bars are unique and different. These five are some of the Best Bars in Melbourne as voted by Clipp customers.
The Rum Diary Bar, named after the novel by journalist Hunter S Thompson, feels like the love child between your friends living room and a Caribbean drinking hole. A place that is comfortable the moment you walk through the doors and also makes you want to spend a couple of months drinking rum, sailing the Caribbean and writing that novel you never got around to finishing.
The nautical theme is far from cliched and is just further proof of the Rum Diary Bar’s love of rum, after all what is more associated with rum more than the sea? They recently brought out a new cocktail menu featuring a map of the Caribbean and details about the drinks famous in each area. It also has a flavour wheel that will help decide what sort of cocktail to drink.
This could not be a review of the Rum Diary Bar without talking about their selection of rum. With over 150 and still counting, the Rum Diary Bar has gathered the most impressive collection of rum, from all corners of the globe. All corners of the globe is a term bandied about willy-nilly but in this case it is completely accurate, they have rums from places that can surely not be real (Guadeloupe anyone?). The bartenders know their rum and are more than happy to tell you about the different types (maybe not all 150).
Their food is easy on the eye, stomach and pocket – changing with what’s in the market and inspired by Spanish and South American cuisines. If you are looking for the genius behind the food then head upstairs to the rooftop to find the man himself with the grill alight and the best view in the house.
If you love your rum then there can be no easier choice than stopping by the Rum Diary Bar.
Descend beneath the ground to find the prohibition inspired Mill House. The area is large and modernly designed but the occasional prohibition era trapping ensues that you know that you are in a modern day speakeasy.
The food is largely influenced by American bar food featuring pizzas, fries and Peruvian fried chicken. If you are after something a little bigger our choice would be the pork belly or seared salmon, both dishes taste superb and surprising are under the $30 mark.
The Mill House stands out from the crowd by serving a wide selection of moonshine, which is available neat, on the rocks or in one of their amazing cocktails. Try out the Miss American Pie or Hennessy “Snoop Grog” to the start the night and progress from there. The moonshine is the star of the menu and it is easy to forget that the Mill House also stocks a pretty impressive wine selection, you are sure to be able to find something to suit your taste.
The bar splits the large room in two, booths line the more dimly lit back area perfect for friends or a couple to talk in privacy. The DJ desk is in the back waiting for the furniture to be taken away and the party to start.
Doing everything from lunch to late, the Mill House is the place to be if you fancy a dance after your work drinks.
Overlooking Melbourne’s South Wharf is a huge 900 seater Bavarian beer hall, a sight not commonly seen outside of Germany.
Owned by the Urban Purveyor Group, the same group that owns Sake Restaurant & Bar and the Bavarian Bier Cafes, they continue their run of excellence with Munich Brauhaus. Like the Bavarian Bier Cafes, you can purchase exclusive Bavarian beer in 1 litre steins, including Löwenbräu Original and their excellent Bavarian Craft Beers.
Not to worry if you are not a beer drinker as Munich Brauhaus stokes a good selection of wine and original cocktails, one of them even has bacon infused vodka.
The food is a pork based. Sausages, schnitzel, pork knuckle and pork belly are the building blocks for their hearty meals. The platters are, quite frankly, huge and are best shared between two or more. If you still have space to spare after dinner then their pretzels are the best you can find on this side of the world.
Munich Brauhaus is not the sort of place you pop into for a quick bite on your way home, it is an experience all by itself.
Bar Ampere is owned by Vernon Chalker, the same man who brought us the very cool Gin Palace and the famous Madame Brussels. The back-lit bottles, the glove molds holding lights and even the very shiny bar gives you the impression of drinking on the set of a delightfully Art-House Sci-Fi movie, there is nothing quite like having a drink in Bar Ampere.
Opening early during the week for the lunch rush, the kitchen stays open right up until closing time at around 3 am, just in case you have a craving for Duck Crepes on your way home from a big night out. No one would blame you for choosing to stop in here for a bite to eat, it makes a welcome change from the greasy food that is usually the only thing available after 12 am. The duck crepes, rib burger and potatoes squares would be Clipp’s recommendation but even then there is not a way to really go wrong with this menu.
Bar Ampere’s drink menu is mainly focused on the European, featuring not many beers but a great deal of wines, aperitifs and probably, the most exciting a huge range of absinthe. The staff know their absinthe and are more than happy to help out someone who has not had any exposure to the absinthe experience.
Go further into Bar Ampere and take a step into the swamp room a New Orleans bayou in the middle the city. The bar is made out of a piano and it is not a stretch of the imagination to picture a blues great smoking, drinking absinthe and playing the bar.
Bar Ampere is probably one of the most unique bars out there and is easily the best place to go for late night eats.
Nieuw Amsterdam is a Melbourne favourite, a New York styled bar in a late 1800’s brick building and spread across two floors.
The top floor is a light filled bistro. The dark wood and furnishings of the room are a contrast to the light table tops, marble bar and plastered brick. Open for lunch and dinner Nieuw Amsterdam has an amazing food menu. The lunch menu is distinctly American with the cubano sandwich, fried chicken ribs (I’m not sure how this works) and spaghetti and meatballs being the stand-out dishes, not forgetting the New York cheesecake or pumpkin doughnuts for desert.
Dinner is a little different but is still as great as the lunch menu, somehow managing to find that narrow line between classy and hearty. The Chicken Jumbalaya and southern fried quail are to good to pass up on.
Descend downstairs to the dimly lit cocktail bar which is open until dawn. Their beer and wine list is impressive but arguably their strength lies in the cocktails, with drinks like the Poor Tom Old Fashioned, NY Sour and Basil Daiquiri they take a twist on the old classics.
Good for a quiet romantic dinner or an all night dance party, Nieuw Amsterdam is a classy joint that is well worth a visit.
There we are five of the best bars in Melbourne to start you on your journey to discovering the cool hidden secrets of Melbourne.