My Favourite Bars In Melbourne
Sharing my current favourite bars in Melbourne and what I like to order at each place from the wines and cocktails to snacks!
City Wine Shop
Why I love It- A great spot on Spring Street for a wine and snack. Go here if Siglo is too busy or you need a pre theatre spot before a show at the Princess Theatre.
Drink: Order a glass of the ‘21 Havilah ‘OGG’ Pinot Gris/Gewürz on a warm winter’s day and sit outside and watch the world go by.
Food: Order the saganaki with wild figs for something comforting, padron peppers with smoked yoghurt for something snack-y and if you’re feeling adventurous, try the fried lamb’s brains with almonds. They taste like croquettes.
Kirk’s Wine Bar
Why I love It- Kirk’s is my go-to spot in Hardware Lane for a casual drink. I love grabbing a table outside, ordering a wine and snack and pretending I’m in Paris. It’s also right next to Hardware Club, where you have to get some pasta, or Piccolina for a gelato.
Food: You have to try the oysters with house made fermented chilli sauce. So good if you love adding tabasco with your oysters. Otherwise, for something cheesy, try the goat's cheese ‘eclair’ with sour cherry and hazelnut (share one between two as they are quite big) for a cheese cloud. Get the beef tartare, plus pomme frites which are hand cut if you need a little more
Drink- Order their Negroni if you want to go classic, or try their ‘Pepper & Barb’ cocktail (Campari, Sweet Vermouth, Rhubarb, Pink Peppercorn) which tastes like a peppery and rhubarb negroni that turned into a tall and spritzy cocktail. If you’re hanging around for a feed, grab a glass of their Sangiovese (2019 Vagnoni Sangiovese)
Food- Order their focaccia for a light snack or order their pizza squares: detroit style deep dish pizzas which are essentially loaded focaccias and one of the most indulgent things you’ll ever eat.
Why I love it- It’s the fanciest place in Flinders Lane, but you’ll almost always be able to get a seat at the bar for a cocktail and snack. A great spot for a drink before a dinner in the city or after when you need a night cap.
Drink- Get the Gimlet, of course. It’s a cliché but an incredibly delicious and delicate gin cocktail. The perfect drink to order if you’re swinging by for a quick one before a dinner or last one before heading home.
Food- Order the Gnocco fritto or get some oysters. Feeling very fancy? Order the caviar.
Why I love it- Another spot in Flinders Lane, also a great place to bar hop after dinner in Flinders Lane. It’s the basement bar under Hazel and the best spot to sit is on the far right hand side of the bar where you can chat and watch the bartender making cocktails. The spot for the best service and conversation. Loved chatting to James there.
Drink: Order as many cocktails as you can handle. If you feel like a modern spicy marg, order the ‘Limewire Gambit’ (tequila, pastis, lime, green apple and jalapenos), for something fruity order the ‘Mary Lou’ (gin, aperol, lemon, strawberry & riesling cordial, mint) or for something tangy get a ‘Lemongrass Daiquiri’ (cuban rum, madeira, lime, lemongrass cordial). Alternatively, leave it in the bartender's hands, tell them the kind of cocktail and flavours you like and they’ll make you a bespoke cocktail to suit you! Side note: for the best seat to chat to the bartender, grab a stool at the bar on the far right side where they're normally making the drink orders.
Food: Admittedly, I came here when the kitchen had closed and haven’t had a chance to try the food yet, but in terms of snacks, the scallop katsu sando with yuzu and kewpie and the red curry corn fritters with sweet chilli and cucumber both sound good on paper.
Why I love it- One of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne. Stepping into Etta feels like coming over to the friend’s place. It has the vibe of a warm wine bar but with impeccable (now one hatted) food by Rosheen Kaul and drinks list curated by owner Hannah Joseph Green. You have to book online for lunch and dinner, but you can always swing by for a drink and still order the food at the front outside in the parklet. A nice spot to perch yourself and watch the people of Lygon street go by.
Drink- Whilst you cannot go wrong with a wine here because Hannah can do no wrong when it comes to wine, they make a mean Spicy Margarita. It’s called the ‘Heavenly Margarita’ (21 Tequila, Triple-Sec, Lime, Heaven Facing Peppers) and it’s one of the best spicy margs I’ve had in a while because they infuse the jalapeño into the tequila in advance.
Food- You simply cannot go wrong with choosing anything here and because the menu changes frequently, there is always something new to try. Last time I went, I ordered the Shark Bay scallop, with snow crab sambal and Chinese celery. I just love a spicy seafood snack and this one hits. Perfect with the spicy marg too for a double dose of spice. Also the Tempura enoki mushroom with almond tarator and crispy chilli oil is a great vegetarian snack. Who knew enoki mushrooms were so good fried?! Also you had me at chilli oil.
Why I love it- A consistently great spot on Getrude St for a wine and meal.
Food: Get a sample of every snack on the menu: some oysters, saucisson, the gougère and anchovies on toast. But if you feel more peckish, order the whole flounder which is cooked with a different sauce every season. Currently a pil pil sauce for their winter menu.
Why I love it- A cocktail institution in Fitzroy. Dimly lit and beautiful cocktails.
Drink: You’re here for the cocktails and nothing else. The menu is extensive and whilst my favourite part of their menu is the fact that they have a pictorial next to each cocktail showing what kind it is and what glass it is served in (tall, short, rocks), the best way to order is to sit at the bar and choose the ‘Bartender’s Choice’. Tell the bartender what flavours and cocktails you like and they’ll whip something up that you’ll love. When I was here, I asked for something spicy but also cooling with cucumber and I was served a Mexican Razorblade.
Food: Like I said, you’re here for the drinks but if you’re peckish, order the marinated tuscan olives or the cheese & charcuterie plate for something to share with a group of friends.
Why I love it- Parcs is ‘scrap’ spelt backwards, the perfect name to describe the sustainable menu mainly made from food waste repurposed from other restaurants and is focused on fermentation. It’s an intimate walk-in wine bar on Little Collins Street and the perfect ‘pop-in’ place. I dropped in before heading to Hamilton the Musical down the road.
Drink: I loved the ‘Smokestack Lightning’ skin contact Gewürztraminer here: floral and fruity a little lychee tasting. If you see it on the wine list which changes frequently, so much so that the list is written and updated on the wall and not on paper, order it.
Food: Try the ‘umami e pepe’ pasta. It's a peppery gravy like sauce made from leftover bread trimmings turned into secret miso sauce. It was saucey, slippery and savoury.
Also ordering the ‘some ferments & pickles’ plate is a good way to start and sample what they do.
Why I love it- If you find yourself in the top east end of the CBD in need of a drink, head here. You'll likely past it at first though as it's a hidden basement bar inside an office building. The only thing you'll spot is a projection of a hand grabbing a bottle of wine. Head downstairs and open the door. It will transport you to Paris and remind you of Pastis in New York if it was a hidden basement bar in Melbourne.
Drink: Grab a glass of french wine, a champagne if you're celebrating or try the 'petit cocktails' baby sized Martini, Manhattans or Boulevardier.
Food: It's french bistro classics here and a decent late night menu too. Come by between 5-7pm or 10pm-12am and there's some decent specials. Frites by themselves aren't on the late night menu but if you ask the bartender nicely, he'll let you order it.