Mr Mark Jessen

20 Best Hidden Bars in Melbourne | Man of Many

This Melbourne Bar is one that has all the hallmarks of a tiki bar meets sandwich shop. Confused? Ok fair enough, Jungle Boy, arguably the most secret of bars in Melbourne, is found behind Boston Sub. It is a place where lovers of the tropics and fruity rum flavoured drinks should go. The aforementioned tiki theme is accompanied by some intriguing and rather striking taxidermized creatures displayed on the walls of the hidden bar; all of which are secretly housed behind a cold room door. In an instant, walking through the refrigerator door, patrons are transported from bustling Windsor to a tropical oasis. Certainly unique, and in regards to hidden bars Melbourne can boast no better.

1. Jungle Boy

Located on Exhibition Street in the Melbourne CBD, the hidden bar named 1806 is a devilishly handsome little drinking spot. From its humble beginnings over a decade ago, 1806 has established itself on the international scene, winning the Worlds Best Cocktail Menu in 2008 – within a year of opening. Since then, it has cemented itself atop of the field of best cocktail bars in Melbourne. Its name is derived from the year 1806, relevant to the bar scene as it was the year that the word “cocktail” first entered into the dictionary. With prohibition-era decor, including beautiful red curtains and chandeliers, a lovely cocktail is best enjoyed on their velvet chairs. Additionally, if you yourself would like to master the art of cocktail making, 1806 offers cocktail masterclasses.

2. 1806

Setting up shop in a former t-shirt factory within Footscray’s industrial district, Back Alley Sally’s provides a hipster, upbeat atmosphere with its recycled furniture and industrial feel; paired with local micro-brews and intriguing cocktails. If you have a hankering for some grub, Pizza by the slice is sold by sister shop, Slice Girls West located downstairs from the bar.

3. Back Alley Sally’s

Ok, so The Attic is not exactly the best-kept secret bar Melbourne boasts. But hey, some things are not always destined to be all clandestine and shit. In any event, this Southern American speakeasy-themed bar is located above another famed Melbourne nightspot, The Black Pearl. Offering patrons whisky tasting or ominously named cocktails such as the Death Flip (Whose ingredients are a secret), you’ll be sure to enjoy this little gem.

4. The Attic at Black Pearl

Above Board is a relatively new and very intimate cocktail bar, owing to maintaining only 12 seats, with no standing permitted. Hayden Lambert, a legend of the Melbourne bar scene – former Time Out Bartender of the Year, has made this his new home. Promising patrons exceptionally crafted cocktails delivered alongside daggy day jokes, which supposedly get better throughout the night, provided the drinks remain flowing.

5. Above Board

Opening back in 2011, Bar Americano’s Matthew Bax wanted to pay homage to the Golden Age of drinking in America. The unique nature of this cosy, hidden bar is perhaps the main selling point. With standing room only, patrons are encouraged to put down their phones and engage with their fellow drinkers, while enjoying the classic cocktails on offer at this Melbourne CBD Bar. The bar boasts that it only creates classic cocktails. The menu changes weekly according to the season and liberty. Patrons are prewarned that their cocktail requests may not be available as the bar is stocked in accordance with the menu.

6. Bar Americano

The first laneway bar in Melbourne -tucked down a Chinatown laneway – The Croft Institute offers a low-key, relaxed atmosphere. Styled to resemble an old school lab, here patrons can unwind after work, or pre-game before a big night out. Drinks are served from syringes, with decorations inspired by various science experiments. A visit to this hidden bar in Melbourne – which is spread over three stories – may leave you feeling inclined to systematically study the alcoholic world. The Croft Institute is one of the best secret bars Melbourne has to offer.

7. The Croft Institute

Named after the North-Eastern region of China, Manchuria is located in the heart of Melbourne’s historic Chinatown. Offering a fusion of old-world china and new-age Melbourne, this intimate nightspot caters in the most elegant of ways. Music and incense create a unique ambience within this hidden gem. Manchuria celebrates old-world values with a modern twist; offering a wide range of cocktails that promises the opportunity to explore the region and cultural heritage of the bar’s namesake. With old favourites, classics with modern twists, and concoctions still unexplored that you will be sure to remember,  it is easily one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne.

8. Manchuria

Goldilocks is an appropriately named hidden cocktail bar located through a Chinese restaurant on Swanston Street in the Melbourne CBD. Appropriate with regards to the fact that it is located above a cottage, and damn near all of their cocktails are just right. Enjoy the spectacular view of the city from this Melbourne rooftop bar, accompanied by a menu of delicious food options. The roof can be closed allowing patrons to bask in the sun or snuggle up with the heaters when it cools down. Further enhancing its resume, the bartenders are amongst the most skilled in Melbourne who draw worldwide flavours into their creations. Goldilocks keeps the dream of fairy tales alive.

9. Goldilocks

The folks who’ve provided Melbournians with Hihou were not messing around with the hidden bar concept. For starters the term Hihou is Japanese for “Secret Treasure” and entrance to this establishment is only done via ringing a doorbell on an unmarked door in Flinders Lane. Once you’re inside, low lighting adds to the ambience, along with Japanese Décor. Small wooden blocks are a feature of the interior, drawing the eyes upward, hovering over the bar’s centerpiece – a large black marble Limited Archie Rose Sandigo Heritage Rye Malt Whisky surrounding by stools. Low seating areas invite guests are invited to take off their shoes for a traditional, yet contemporary experience. Japanese staples such as fine Japanese Whisky, Sake, and Umeshu (Plum wine) are served, complemented by Japanese bites, such as spring rolls, chilli miso edamame, and sashimi.

10. Hihou

Fusion evidently is the name of the game when it comes to describing the business plan of Pawn & Co. Combining two elements that traditionally have not gone hand-in-hand, Drinking and Buying things. This Chapel Street establishment offers visitors a unique experience, to say the least. On offer are splendid cocktails and products to purchase ranging from furniture to taxidermy creatures. Patrons can enjoy a casual drink downstairs or dance the night away to some techno beats upstairs.

11. Pawn & Co

Sounding as if it were named after some half-assed looking B-grade science fiction movie villain, Bartronica is far from being half-assed. In fact, it would appear the developers of this particular bar were using their whole ass when constructing the underground bar. Offering a wide variety of the best Why Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Wines are so Delicious on the planet, cocktails that pay homage to the films of the 1980s, and ice shaped like Tetris in the drinks, this will sure to be a place for a fun night out.

12. Bartronica

Combining two profoundly significant areas of the 20th century into a bar setting was always going to be a bit of a challenge. However, the folks at the Berlin Bar certainly pulled it off. After locating the front door, ringing the doorbell and then being allowed to enter, visitors must choose between either the West or East side of the bar. With the opulence of the West and the poverty of the East to choose from, only one thing is certain, the drinks are amazing. Bring your passport and cross the border if you dare.

13. Berlin Bar

This particular location is an example of hiding in plain view. Well, relatively in plain view. Fall From Grace is an Underground Bar located in the Melbourne CBD on Collins Street, underneath the trendy European-styled bistro State of Grace. Behind a sliding bookcase (Yep, somebody call Gene Wilder) and down a winding marble staircase, this bar will provide the inquisitive bar patron with a luxuriously crafted cocktail. Hidden bars in Melbourne don’t get more graceful. Elegantly styled with chandeliers and velvet seats, patrons can expect loads of fun. After all, doesn’t the fun always coincide with a fall from grace?

14. Fall From Grace

It’s hard to remain truly hidden in this world we live in; Loch and Key try it’s hardest to do just that. Located behind a bookcase in one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs, Captain Melville. In fact, it is actually directly above Captain Melville; specialising. This Melbourne speakeasy features a warren of rooms inside, and a deck-styled balcony to enjoy the setting sun in the afternoon or early evening. All with a chilled out atmosphere with classic cocktails and warm service provided until 7 am every day. Loch and Key might be the most stylish speakeasy Melbourne has to offer.

15. Loch and Key

The Den basement cocktail bar offers a charming vibe reminiscent of the Golden Era and New York’s bar culture. Filled with bookcases, heirlooms, gas-flamed heaters, velvet sofas, vintage Persian rugs, cottage chairs, and a grand piano, it boasts an intimate and nocturnal ambience that is perfect for a quiet drink or private event. This warm and inviting hidden gem will make you never want to leave.

16. The Den

Another addition to the group of cool Melbourne laneway bars, Murmur is the only dedicated piano bar Melbourne boasts. A place to visit for those who enjoy a savoury atmosphere and an equally savoury drink. With an impressive selection of the finest liquor in the city, patrons are encouraged to chill out amongst friends while listening to delightful piano tunes and enjoy cocktails inside the art deco styled venue.

17. Murmur

Keeping the forever cool theme of hidden bars, Pinball Paradise offers visitors a unique experience which is sure to provide an equally unique night out. Located behind a bookcase in the tropically themed Island Somewhere, this is the place to visit for aficionados of fine whisky and challenging Pinball machines. Challenging as to whether or not you’ll want to leave.

18. Pinball Paradise

What was once a tailor’s shop has now been converted into a delightfully well-hidden bar. Named after the infamous Victorian gold rush of the 1850s & 60s, New Gold Mountain is secretly located behind a striking red door atop a set of stairs. With an ambient, modern opium-den style interior, and eye-warming jade green interior, it is a hark back to the heyday of the 19th Century. The only thing smoother than New Gold Mountains design is its drinks.

19. New Gold Mountain

With a name so nice, they gave it thrice. Pizza Pizza Pizza is the place to go when you not only want a tantalizing slice of New York-styled pizza, but also a cheeky little cocktail. This retro-inspired hidden cocktail bar – out the back of a pizza shop –  is sure to provide visitors with a great night out, I mean great drinks and delicious pizza, come on. Pizza Pizza Pizza is one of the funnest hidden bars Melbourne has to offer.

20. Pizza Pizza Pizza

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