In Food + Drink

Melbourne Bars Every Whisky Lover Should Visit

Whisky can have many different flavours. It can be soft or firm, big or subtle, creamy or oaky. And then there’s the atmosphere you’re sipping your whisky in – that can then affect how you perceive the flavour.

Beautiful surroundings, a knowledgable bartender and even being allowed a look at a bottle’s label can all play a role in your satisfaction and enjoyment of whisky.

And, if you’re in Melbourne, you’re in luck. There are quite a few Melbourne whisky bars that offer just that. We’ve listed five of the best below.

The Kodiak Club

Image: The Kodiak Club / supplied

The Kodiak Club knows American whiskey. As its name is a tribute to the Kodiak bear (a subspecies of Brown bear found in Alaska), it touts itself as ‘Melbourne’s local North American Bar.’ With an impressive selection of 100+ labels, the Kodiak Club is specifically known for its variety of American bourbon whiskey.

Don’t be afraid to ask one of the bartenders if you don’t know where to start. They’re all happy to help.

Other than whisky, The Kodiak Club flaunts an exciting drinks menu full of highballs (‘Rye & Rootbeer’ gets straight to the point), shooters (‘Pickle Back Shots’ are an American classic) and signature creations (the ‘Smores American Summer Camp’ cocktail will make you want to sing “Kumbaya”). Don’t be surprised if you spend a few hours at this creative and comfortable whisky bar.


Image: 1806 / supplied

The 1806 building was originally a theatre that has since transformed into an iconic Melbourne bar. The name is a tribute to when the word “cocktail” was first defined in print. Clever, we know. When it comes to drinks, 1806 flaunts a list of over 100 different whiskies, referring to the spirit as “aqua vitae” (the water of life).

The prohibition-era decor creates a calm and quiet atmosphere that provides the opportunity to engage in an intimate conversation or to enjoy your drink in peace. The menu illustrates a variety of tasting experiences, including flights of Irish, Japanese, Scottish, and American whisk(e)y. If you’re genuinely interested in learning more about the spirit, 1806 offers a masterclass that will teach you about different styles and tastes of whisky.

Boilermaker House

Image: Boilermaker House / supplied

Bring your sense of adventure to Boilermaker House. This Melbourne bar accentuates a strong American Southern theme complete with a menu full of whisky, beer, meat and cheese. The dim lighting, intricate woodwork and thoughtful glassware make The Boilermaker House more of an experience than a simple walk-in.

It boasts a 900+ whisky list accompanied by knowledgable mixologists to help you navigate the menu. If you’re feeling indecisive, start with a Boilermaker: one shot of whisky, one glass of beer. Then continue exploring the rest of the substantial menu. When you get hungry, opt for the Matched Dinner experience. It expertly pairs food and booze so that you get the most out of all the flavours.

The Melbourne Whisky Room

Image: The Melbourne Whisky Room / supplied

You know this bar means business with a name like The Melbourne Whisky Room. The intimate setting is stacked with 800 types of whisky — specifically, it’s home to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s biggest range of single cask offerings. The menu also showcases rare import whiskies and old varieties that come with a hefty price tag.

The Melbourne Whisky Room is a quiet, upscale place that provides the opportunity to enjoy your drink in peace while jazz and blues play on vinyl in the background. The bar welcomes walk-ins and is open on Friday and Saturday nights.

Beneath Driver Lane

Walk down Driver Lane after the sun goes down to find Beneath Driver Lane, a hidden bar in an old bank vault. Descend a flight of stairs to a basement full of blues, whisky and late-night bites. Suffice to say, it’s easily one of Melbourne’s best hidden haunts for after work drinks.

The attention is all in the details at Beneath Driver Lane, starting with the chic decor, candlelit atmosphere, professional uniforms, warm atmosphere, and carefully crafted cocktails.

The menu features French bistro-style bar food and an unbeatable spirits list. It even hosts a Whisky Vault for private tastings of top-shelf whisky. This is the ultimate spot to enjoy a drink paired with a gourmet Reuben sandwich while listening to live music at 2am. Oh yeah, that’s possible.

(Lead images: 1806 / supplied) 

Published 06 February, 2020