When you think of true laneway bars, something like Section 8 comes to mind. Opened in 2008 inside an empty carpark, it was only ever meant to be a pop-up bar, but it was so popular that it’s been a local favourite.
Down the charming Tattersalls Lane – one of the best laneways in Melbourne – Section 8 has wooden pallets for seats and a shipping container for a bar. There’s not much to it, but it’s nearly always packed.
There are several awesome cocktail bars down Meyers Place, and Lily Blacks is one of them.
This dimly lit bar is serious about cocktails, serving pre-prohibition tonics & modern classics. The interior is part art-deco, but the centrepiece is the bar, backed by a mountain of bottles.
Watch: The Best Laneways in Melbourne
You can miss Chuckle Park in a glimpse. Sandwiched between buildings, this tiny laneway bar is covered in faux grass and serves drinks from an adorable caravan.
The American wilderness inspires Chuckle Park; glowing lanterns hang beside punnets of flowers.
Along with cocktails, you’ll find tinnies from local breweries and natural wines – plus, they even manage to squeeze a live DJ in on certain days.
Bar Ampère sits above a decommissioned electrical substation – the fit-out reflects this with mechanical elements.
Take a seat at the impressive circular bar, and settle in for a night of electric drinks. Out the back is the ‘Swamp Room’ – a secret escape covered in swampy greenery with an old-time piano. Bar Ampère is the sister venue to Gin Palace – it’s directly next door should you fancy a gin.
Above Board is one of a kind. There’s no back bar lined with bottles, in fact, aside from the wooden bar, there’s hardly anything to be seen at all. And there are only 12 seats; absolutely no standing allowed.
And yet, Above Board has been recognised as one of the top 100 bars in the world.
To find this gem, head past Beer Mash, down Chopper Lane and up the stairs. There’s a no-booking policy, so best not to come with a large group.
Serving cocktails since 2002, Double Happiness is a Chinese-inspired bar filled with communist propaganda featuring Chairman Mao.
It’s all tongue-in-cheek, and the rowdiness that Double Happiness promotes would not be endorsed by the Chinese government.
The drinks list is fun. The ‘Great Leap Forward’ is their signature cocktail staring house-made lychee vodka. Or enjoy bubble tea spiked with a shot of booze.
This hole-in-the-wall bar showcases everything good about Melbourne’s laneway bar scene.
Hidden Laneway Bars
Venutre down dingy laneways and find secret drinking dens.
Serving cocktails since 2013, most of the drinks from Eau De Vie come with an element of theatrics.
Down the non-descript Malthouse Lane, Eau de Vie fuses booze with liquid nitrogen, fire, and house-made ingredients. Take a seat at the bar and enjoy the show from the talented bartenders.
We recommend booking a table, Eau de Vie is frequently at full capacity. They are the same team behind Mjolner, a Norse-inspired themed restaurant & bar.
In Meyer’s Place there is a New York style joint called Pizza Pizza Pizza. This hole in the wall serves giant pizza by the slice.
It’s unassuming, but it holds a mighty-big secret.
Gather up the courage, walk past the sign that reads ‘staff only’, and push through the black curtain. With enough grit, you’ll step into an intimate cocktail bar.
Technically this bar has no name, and that’s fine with us. Their creative cocktail menu provides everything we could need for a great (and late) night; it’s one of the best-hidden bars in Melbourne.
Berlin takes themed bars to the next level. One half represents East Berlin, under the regime of dictator Joseph Stalin; it’s wartorn and dishevelled. The other side represents the West and runs under capitalism; it’s covered in gems and oozes opulence.
Regardless of which side you pick, you can enjoy some delicious cocktails. They also have a large range of gin & tonic variations.
Berlin can be a little hard to find. Look for the glowing sign of a bear, then take the stairs and ring the doorbell. The staff will let you in when they’re ready.
Rooftop Laneway Bars
Laneways, cocktails and an open air view.
You really can’t get any more Melbourne than this. Similar to Section 8, Whitehart is inside an abandoned car park.
This industrial bar has been built using shipping containers, and while it doesn’t have a kitchen, it has a rotating offer of food trucks.
Head upstairs to their rooftop, nestled between old red brick buildings.
Loop has been part of the laneway bar scene since 2003, and another reason to visit Meyer’s Place.
The ground floor is Loop Project Space & Bar, an industrial space with a large projection showcasing rotating media.
Take the stairs and you’ll eventually reach their two-tier rooftop oasis, complete with exotic plants and a misting system for hot days; it’s one of the best rooftop bars in Melbourne.
Exploring Chinatown is a great thing to do in Melbourne. Along with dumpling houses, you’ll find the odd bar too. Hidden down Hefferman Lane, Union Electric is a narrow bar spread over two levels.
The ground floor is their cocktail bar, with a giant portrait of the charming Bill Murray. Upstairs is their rooftop bar, perfect for drinks in the open air.
Taylor was born and raised in Tasmania. He moved to Melbourne to study Film & television, and went on to start a marketing agency for hospitality. Whilst in Melbourne he also founded a walking tour company. He has a love for rock 'n' roll bars & New York-style pizza. In 2020 he was amongst the top 1% of Frank Sinatra listeners on Spotify.