The 10 Best Melbourne CBD Bars To Get A Pre-Show Drink
Catching a show in the heart of Melbourne can be thirsty work, so it’s never a bad idea to enjoy a tipple or two before curtain up. The CBD has theatre patrons spoilt for choice, with more mixologists, barkeeps, and pint-pullers than you can shake a ticket-stub at. To help you navigate this embarrassment of riches, we’ve cherry-picked our favourite establishments for that perfect pre-show pitstop.
Through an innocuous looking doorway, just a few yards from the foyer of the Princess Theatre, you’ll find two of Melbourne theatreland’s most cherished haunts. A narrow staircase opens into a sprawling salon filled with worn leather chesterfields and wingbacked armchairs. Welcome to the Melbourne Supper Club, an upmarket club-style bar boasting one of the best-heeled wine lists in the city. For those who prefer their pre-show activities alfresco, one more flight of stairs brings you to the rooftop cigar and cocktail lounge at Siglo, where you can enjoy both signature and classic cocktails overlooking the State Parliament building.
If you’re looking to maximise your drinking time ahead of a night in the Arts and Entertainment Precinct, the Arts Centre Melbourne’s in-house bar, part of the stylish Hamer Hall revamp, is as close to Front of House as it’s possible to get. Enjoy a drinks menu primarily sourced from within Victoria, while you look out over the Yarra and the city skyline from the Southbank.
Magic Mountain Saloon
62 Little Collins Street
Bathed in crimson light, this achingly trendy bar and eatery is straight out of a David Lynch fever-dream. Perfectly situated for any of the major West End-style theatres around Collins Street, or a show at iconic indie venue Fortyfivedownstairs, this neon-lit, white marble-clad gastro-bar nightspot is dripping with hipster chic, sans the pretention.
Toff In Town
252 Swanson Street
Situated on the second floor of Curtain House, this speakeasy-style cocktail bar has a whimsical atmosphere and a knockout cocktail selection. Pull up a chair at the front bar and enjoy the showmanship of Toff’s talented mixologists, or enjoy an intimate drink in one of the cosy train-car booths in the affectionately nicknamed “carriage.”
45 Flinders Lane
A couple of floors above the exposed brick performance space of Fortyfivedownstairs you’ll find a similar hinterland between high-culture and wrought industrialism. Decked out by star architect Pascal Gomes-McNabb, this relaxed yet sophisticated bar and bistro is the perfect sit-and-sip venue – at once both refined and no-frills. There’s an astonishing cellar for any would-be sommeliers to explore, but also a less daunting selection of affordable by-the-glass wines.
1 Flinders Lane
Japanophiles will feel right at home in this modern-yet-authentic sake, whiskey, and cocktail bar. For the full experience, leave a little extra time so you can enjoy the upstairs den, although be sure to wear your best socks: You’ll be asked to slip off your shoes before taking your place at a traditional low-slung table. The cocktail menu is replete with exotic Eastern flavours and speciality liquors, served over hand-chipped ice in bespoke glassware.
Arbory Bar & Eatery
As you sit sipping a drink amongst the leafy trees on the banks of the Yarra, it’s easy to forget this thriving bar is just feet from the train tracks of Flinders Street Station. This huge beer garden is a city staple, popular with white collar commuters grabbing a cold one before the train home. And being just a hop, skip and a jump from the Arts Precinct, Southbank Theatre and Melbourne Recital Centre, it’s also perfect for a quick pre-show beverage or two.
Southgate Pedestrian Bridge
This maritime-themed pontoon venue is a little piece of theatre in itself. Accessible via the pedestrian footbridge between Flinders Street Station and the Southbank, come aboard and take in the river views from the ship’s bow while you enjoy a range of craft beers and hearty bar snacks. Popular with city workers, there’s a buzzing atmosphere here pre-show for those who don’t mind a bit of a crowd.
Eau de Vie
1 Malthouse Lane
Nothing says Melbourne like a hidden bar, which is exactly what you’ll find (with a bit of luck) at Eau de Vie. Not that it’s such a secret these days; in fact it’s become one of the hottest spots in the city. And with good reason. With its Prohibition era styling, jazzy soundtrack, and old-timey classic cocktails (with thoroughly modern twists), there’s a thrilling theatricality to the EDV experience – perfect for anyone with a penchant for drama.