It’s certainly no secret that Melbourne loves a good hidden sip spot, whether it’s down a dim-lit laneway or through an unmarked doorway, but these days some of the city’s stealth-seeking imbibers have gotten even more surreptitious, masking themselves within other drinking dens. Let us lift the curtain on some of the best bars within bars, darling…
Bar Economico & Bar Exuberante
No, the place hasn’t closed. Bypass the newspaper lined entrance and slink into mix-master Matt Bax’s blue-hued faux-dive Bar Economico, where you’ll have to pass a ticket through the wire-cage counter to get the signature Cuban rum mojito.
Having savoured your first sip, tell your tender that you’d like to go out back and wait to be collected by a second server, whose bellboy raiment looks straight out of the Grand Budapest Hotel. He’ll lead you through to the timber-lined, colonial-esque Bar Exuberante where you can lap up a lavender-infused Piña Colada or trust in the wisdom of the order-by-numbers cocktail wheel.
Bar Economico & Bar Exuberante, 438 Church St, Richmond, Melbourne. +61 3 9428 0055
State of Grace & Fall from Grace
Start with a Mr. Darcy or the sharable Clovers & Brambles beneath the giraffe taxidermy in spiffy resto-bar State of Grace, then say your prayers and descend the hidden stairs (hint: look for the red hardback on the bookshelf) for sinful signatures, like the hedonistic Tout les Jours, at subterranean saucebox Fall from Grace.
State of Grace & Fall From Grace, 477 Collins St, CBD, Melbourne. +61 3 8644 7110, stateofgracemelbourne.com.au
Black Pearl & The Attic
Brunswick Street’s Black Pearl was a frontrunner of Mellie’s cocktail scene long before Captain Jack came along, and still serves up an unbeatably unpretentious mix of casj-cool vibes and awarded nips. Arrive early on a weekend evening and take a Green Apple Sling downstairs, but if the bluegrass tunes aren’t so much your scene, retreat to The Attic for crystal glassware and table service.
Black Pearl & The Attic, 304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Melbourne. +61 3 9417 0455, blackpearlbar.com.au
Captain Melville & Loch and Key
Fancy fair dinkum? Take a craft draft and some mod-Oz bites in the front bar of the city’s oldest pub – more recently redubbed Captain Melville – then skip upstairs and push aside the bookcase (what can we say? Melburnians prefer their booze behind books) to find the three hidden rooms and bluestone balcony of genteel Loch and Key, where the post-grad hip set sip bespoke bevs and boutique cider.
Captain Melville & Loch and Key, 34 Franklin St, CBD, Melbourne. +61 3 9663 6855, captainmelville.com.au
Bars in Bistros
A close cousin to the inception imbiber is the bar in bistro. Check out the handsome Thomas Olive – up the stairs at the back of Collingwood’s casual fine dine supster Saint Crispin – for a snappy selection of top drops and digestifs. Or venture through the cool-room door behind the sandwich counter of late-night cravings fixer Boston Sub to find tropi-cool tiki treat Jungle Boy.
Saint Crispin & Thomas Olive, 300 Smith St, Collingwood, Melbourne. +61 3 9419 2202, saintcrispin.com.au
Boston Sub & Jungle Boy, 96 Chapel St, Windsor, Melbourne. +61 3 9939 9038, bostonsub.com.au