PLAYMAKER
The Playmaker
Let's play
PLAYMAKER
  • It's Thursday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Melbourne
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
  • LET'S PLAY
15° & RAINY ON THURSDAY 2 APRIL IN MELBOURNE
By Concrete Playground
December 18, 2019
  shares

Melbourne's Best New Bars of 2019

The city's very best boozy additions of the year.
By Concrete Playground
December 18, 2019
  shares

MELBOURNE'S BEST NEW BARS OF 2019

The city's very best boozy additions of the year.

While it feels like it was only yesterday that we were eating boozy Christmas pud with nan, it's somehow already December (again) — which means, yes, we're almost at the end of  2019. And Melbourne's bar scene has continued to grow at an impressive (alarming?) rate. Not only have new drinking holes popped up across the city — opening everywhere from CBD rooftops to former mechanics warehouses in Abbotsford — these libation stations are multi-faceted, doubling as breweries (with indoor lagoons), nightclubs with 24-hour licences and record shops. So, here are our favourite ten bars to throw open their doors in 2019. Add them to your list. Tick them off. Just as Santa's doing now.

  • 10

    Abbotsford-born brewing company Moon Dog‘s Preston digs bring a whole new meaning to the words “go big, or go home”. The aptly named Moon Dog World is a mammoth brewery, bar and beer garden clocking in at 12,000 square metres — with room for a huge 725 punters. The name hints at a theme park or adventure land and, between the jungle of greenery, the tiki-style bar, the indoor waterfall and the illuminated rainforest lagoon flowing right through the centre, that’s basically what it is. Over to one side presides an elevated DJ booth and VIP terrace, while opposite, a two-level conglomeration of shipping containers has been transformed into a series of cosy rooms, hidden booths and open balconies. A hefty central bar is pouring one heck of a beer list, decked out with no less than 72 taps — never has there been this many Moon Dog brews offered in one spot. True to form, it’s a diverse collection, featuring label favourites, including the Old Mate pale ale and Cake Hole black forest stout, alongside seasonal releases like the Cherry Seinfeld sour ale. A rotation of guest drops rounds out the beer offering, though there’s also an all-Aussie wine lineup, classic tap cocktails and a few signature concoctions, for those after something different.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Kate Shanasy.

    READ MORE
  • 9
    Peaches

    The Dexter boys have done it again with the opening of two more levels above their barbecue meat restaurant Cheek. The first level of Peaches is a pastel pink fantasy land. It’s intimate and flirty with a whimsical scattering of glowing peach-like light bulbs. The cocktail menu is divided into four music-themed genres: 90s pop, funk, metal and disco. Head upstairs to the 80-person rooftop and get around, what we believe to be, one of the most enticing and best-value bar snacks in town. It’s the classic chicken sanga, available ‘hot’ with Sichuan-spiced fried chicken or ‘cold’ with yuzu mayo and pickles, both served in a soft bun. It’s a steal at $7 a pop during happy hour (normally $10), which runs from 12–2pm and 12–2am. The drinks focus up here differs from downstairs, and is all about cooling down in summer with light and breezy spritzes and blended cocktails. During the winter months, a retractable roof will be installed and bums will stay warm thanks to an ingenious built-in heating system under the concrete bench seating.

    Words and image: Kate Shanasy.

    READ MORE
  • 8

    Patient Wolf’s name might refer to a cheeky quote from Hollywood screen siren Lana Turner — she famously said “a gentleman is simply a patient wolf” — but it’s also fitting given how long fans have been waiting (perhaps not so) patiently for the label to open a tasting bar of its own. Having first launched the business in 2016, Matt Argus and Dave Irwin have been operating out of a cosy Brunswick distillery, only open to the public on a handful of celebratory occasions. But now, the wait is finally over — and the team has opened the doors to its Southbank digs, which come complete with a cellar door and cocktail bar. At the front of the warehouse space, you’ll find a 30-seat tasting bar, where you can camp out, sipping gin with a direct view of where it was crafted. Further out the back is a larger lounge with leather banquettes, soft blue tones, exposed brick walls and a few polished-up industrial elements. You’ll spy Patient Wolf’s three gins available neat or as an “ultimate G&T” and an oft-changing cocktail list paying homage to the classics, without being afraid to get a little creative. Settle in with a vibrant snow pea collins, a white miso sour or perhaps a a tropical OK Tiki Arr’ with tonka bean, Campari and pineapple.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Dean Schmideg.

    READ MORE
  • 7

    If there’s one thing Michael Madrusan and his team have a knack for, it’s creating strong characters. The founders of hospitality group Made In The Shade nailed a distinctly elegant vibe with award-winning cocktail bar The Everleigh, and followed up with the wild child party animal that is Russell Street’s Heartbreaker. Now, Michael, alongside wife Zara and the rest of the crew, has turned his hand to yet another personality-fuelled venue, taking cues from the french brasseries of The Big Apple for the effortlessly sophisticated Bar Margaux. At home in a CBD basement, the bar is already a go-to for wining, dining and late-night good times. Here, the fun kicks on till 3am weekdays and 5am Fridays and Saturdays, with a supper menu of classic French fare on offer right through to close — which includes the likes of steak frites, creamy bowls of mussels and a decadent rotisserie lobster croque monsieur. Of course, with this team at the helm, the drinks list is gold as well. Madrusan’s biggest cocktail list yet features a choose-your-own-adventure ‘This & That’ section, a solid spread of lower ABV creations and some longtime owner favourites, like the Guinness- and Champagne-infused Black Velvet, and a classic Irish coffee. Throw in a strong list of European beers, French wines and an impressive selection of Champagne and you’ll be very glad this place kicks on late.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Parker Blain.

    READ MORE
  • 6

    Cocktail bar Byrdi is the latest venture and first Aussie project for Luke Whearty and Aki Nishikura — the bartending masterminds responsible for Singapore’s multi award-winning Operation Dagger. Given the venue has claimed a spot among the World’s 50 Best Bars for four years running (and currently sits at number 30), it’s not a surprise that Byrdi has brought some pretty exciting things to the party. Here, a constantly evolving cocktail list showcases local ingredients sourced at their peak, with no two visits the same. You’ll find sips like the In Bloome: a mix of hand-picked jasmine, gin, Applewood’s Red Okar, lavender tincture, mandarin vinegar and a house-made pear blossom liqueur. There’s a handful of house-fermented creations, too — including a take on the much-loved Weis Bar with fermented Northern Territory mango, Gippsland cream and mango vinegar — along with highballs and a tight rotation of local craft beers and wines. The food lineup is concise, but clever, also built around local, seasonal goodies. Find the likes of tempura salt and vinegar green beans, grilled tiger prawns teamed with finger lime and broccolini matched with a fortified macadamia cream.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Kate Shanasy.

    READ MORE
  • 5

    The owners of Fitzroy North haunt Neighbourhood Wine, Simon Denman and Almay Jordaan, have created another comfortable, laidback destination with Old Palm Liquor. Where its sibling has a jazzy, old-school lounge thing going on, Old Palm evokes feelings of some retro rumpus room, through a comfy mix of terrazzo flooring, a splash of vintage beige tilework and a healthy dose of timber veneer in the front section of the bar. And while the front is quite dark and moody, the back has lots of leafy foliage, natural light, a fireplace and a scattering of old-school light fixtures that round out the living room aesthetics. True to form, wine is a huge part of the offering here, as is an emphasis on good value, top-quality, largely minimal intervention drops alongside a 12-strong range of tap brews and a crop of house-bottled cocktail creations, served straight out of the freezer. As for the food, it’s a generous menu of top-notch produce cooked over hot coals on the woodfired grill, alongside a slew of snackier dishes that feature a bit of Jordaan’s South African heritage. After-work drinks sessions might include the likes of beef tartare enlivened with biltong spices and Nardin anchovy, grilled sardines with chakalaka (a South African spicy tomato dressing), or flatbread served ready to drag through some sumac and labneh.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Julia Sansone.

    READ MORE
  • 4

    If local beer label Bodriggy wasn’t on your radar before 2019, it sure will be now. Owners Jon Costello, Anthony Daniels and Peter Walsh have opened a mammoth brewpub in a former Abbotsford mechanics warehouse that boasts room for an impressive 400 punters. You’ll spy lamps recovered from the Palais Theatre, as well as a couple of vintage MCG balustrades, here edging the stairs down to the underground bathrooms. The brewery tanks loom large and shiny at the back of the room, while the front section is home to a dining room, complete with warm timber and plush green booth seating. If you’re impressed with the size of the pub itself, just wait until you get a look at the drinks offering. Bodriggy’s beer is front and centre, of course, the light box menu above the bar sporting mainstays (like the Speccy Juice session IPA) and seasonal offerings, such as wine-beer hybrid Zooter Doozy. Bodriggy’s taps aren’t solely for things fizzy and hopped, either — they’re also pouring wild and natural wines and a lineup of cocktails heroing native ingredients and South American flavours. More South American flavours feature throughout the food menu, which is crafted by Chef John Dominguez (Vue de Monde, Dinner by Heston) and working a huge offering of vegan and gluten-free options.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Kate Shanasy.

    READ MORE
  • 3

    What happens when a former punk rock singer and his hip hop DJ wife, both originally from Japan, decide to open a cosy venue in Fitzroy? Well, if you’re Fumi and Takako Tamura, the end result looks a lot like Gertrude Street Japanese joint, Tamura Sake Bar. Heroing an inviting combination of vinyl, izakaya-style plates and sake, it’s a refreshing taste of home for the couple — a little more grown-up than their earlier venue Horse Bazaar — and sure to spark a few memories of your own jaunts to Japan. A lineup of sashimi is also on offer alongside crunchy Japanese fried chicken, rich bowls of ramen and mixed vegetable tempura. Pair them with a WA wine or an Asian craft brew (including a matcha IPA from Kyoto and an Okinawa sour), or take advantage of a sake selection that’s both considered and approachable. Umeshu (plum wine) and whisky are also in strong supply. The matching vinyls — which spin every night and are also available to buy — have been chosen by a crew of acclaimed Japanese DJs and producers, featuring a healthy dose of jazz, a sprinkling of hip hop and even a few records that usually aren’t usually available outside of Japan.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Kate Shanasy.

    READ MORE
  • 2

    A locals’ haunt — which, thankfully, doesn’t live up to its name — Nasty’s is the new kid on High Street. It’s the first venture from hospitality veteran Nick Matheson, who found himself choosing the northside suburb for his long-planned watering hole after a raft of friends moved in nearby. Cheerfully low-key with a warm, homespun vibe, Nasty’s forgoes trendy trimmings for a more personalised haul of upcycled treasures. Think knick knacks, potted plants and a fun mix of seating that includes deep Chesterfields and revamped car seats.  As with all good neighbourhood haunts, there are cosy corners and nooks aplenty, including a secluded beer garden out back. Though, in a joint like this, you’re just as likely to find yourself hanging with new mates in the front bar. The drinks list sticks with the same sweet-and-simple philosophy as the fit-out. Headed up by a six-strong rotation of local tap brews, which currently includes Abbotsford brewery Moon Dog, the drinks menu also features a tight lineup of spirits, a handful of ciders and wines. There’s no formal cocktail list, but if you have a chat to Matheson, he’ll happily whip you up something, and a food offering is en route soon.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Kate Shanasy.

    READ MORE
  • 1

    Making its home in the two-storey, 300-capacity Queensberry Street space once home to Yours & Mine, Colour comes to us from Liam Alexander and Benny Rausa, who have previously put their minds to long-running nightclub Lounge, music collective 6am at the Garage and one-day festival Something Unlimited. With the opening of Colour, the duo hopes to unearth some of the vibrancy of Melbourne’s glory days. And they’ve got all the right tools to make good on those promises. The space has a state-of-the-art sound system, downstairs and upstairs, while a first-floor band room boasts space for up to six-piece acts. The venue has also been jazzed up with new furniture, fresh lighting and a healthy splash of colour. There’s also a regular lineup of natural wine launches, club nights and parties. Colour can tap into its 24-hour licence weeklong — except for between 7–10am Sundays — but, at the moment, it’s operating as a bar and band room from 5pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, then kicking into club mode on Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm.

    Words: Libby Curran. Image: Rhys Newling.

    READ MORE

Top image: Tamura Sake Bar by Kate Shanasy.

  •   shares
      shares
  • VIEW COMMENTS

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x