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If there’s one thing Melbourne loves, it’s a hidden bar. Add the extra intrigue of a secret doorway entrance and we simply can’t resist. Here’s how to discover some of the best.
The main bar on Trinket’s street level is all bright, sleek, vintage-inspired glamour. But Trinket is not all that it seems. Step into a mysterious wardrobe and you’ll emerge into an ornate land of velvet couches and chandeliers. You’ll find pizzas, bar snacks and magical signature cocktails on the menu. Try the appropriately named ‘indulge your curiosity’.
That Nitro Lab ice cream shop might look innocent enough. But the elevator inside will transport you to the Blade Runner vibes of Heroes karaoke and rooftop bar. Belt out your best karaoke at this multi-storey party palace, then celebrate your rockstar awesomeness with rooftop cocktails.
It’s been around for 12 years now and yet Berlin Bar is still one of the city’s best kept drinking secrets. Ascend the stairs and buzz for entry. Then it’s your choice. Do you want to drink amongst the communist propaganda of the East or the kitsch capitalist luxury of the West? Cocktails are named after soldiers of the Cold War (and yes, there’s a Vladimir Putin).
State of Grace
State of Grace has a smart-casual Euro bistro and a stunning rooftop bar. But the real hidden gem? Fall From Grace, the cocktail den hidden behind a trick bookshelf. Pull down a book and the staircase is revealed. No one will find you here as you cosy up with a cocktail, like the ‘somebody stole my girl’, with vodka, St Germain, lime, apple and mint.
New Gold Mountain
This Chinatown bar riffs on the dens of iniquity that sprang up during the great Victorian gold rush. Look for a bike and a ‘21’ above a gold door and you’ll find the stairs to New Gold Mountain. Lounge over two levels, richly decorated in beaded curtains and moody paper lantern lighting. Cocktails use 100 per cent Australian spirits and ingredients. Try the ‘Australiana’.
It’s easy to miss the little dogleg alley off an arcade off a lane that is Presgrave Place. This is where you’ll find Bar Americano, Melbourne’s smallest bar. Can’t find it? Look for the blue ‘T’ sign. With only room for 10 standing patrons, you need to hustle to sample their classy old-school cocktails. Good news though – they’ve now added outdoor seating.
At Bartronica, arcade games and adult refreshments unite. But first you’ve got to find that obscure door leading down to an unremarkable tiled stairwell. Once you do, you’ll land in a basement bar packed with classic arcade games and machines. Bartronica also has a fabulous selection of Japanese whiskies, as well as delicious tinnies and seasonal beers.
Eau de Vie
Behind a heavy, unmarked door in tiny Malthouse Lane, you’ll find Eau de Vie. Step into the warmth and get transported back to the speakeasies of the 1920s. The bar staff here are beyond expert, the cocktails are next level. They double-down on the hidden bar idea with their Whisky Room, which is secretly hidden behind a bookcase. This is where all the rare and exclusive whiskies live.
Who doesn’t love a clandestine, late-night bar serving cocktails and French comfort food? Hidden behind a nondescript staircase behind a door that simply says ‘MGX’, you’ll find just that. Bar Margaux is sultry and sophisticated, serving seasonal wines and substantial supper dishes. Saddle up at a counter table or slide into an intimate booth. Bar Margaux oozes Euro-style.
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Last updated on Fri 2 Jul 2021
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