With its enviable location on the banks of the Yarra River, it’s no surprise that Southbank is one of the city’s best areas if you’re looking for bars and restaurants in Melbourne. From hidden cocktail bars to sun-drenched beer gardens, this waterside suburb has an abundance of watering holes to suit every mood and palate.
We know it can be difficult to choose from the seemingly endless array of Southbank restaurants and bars out there. That’s why we’ve curated a selection of where to drink in Melbourne’s Southbank if you’re looking for an intimate date night, a pre-show drink, amazing views, or just a good Old Fashioned cocktail.
Without question, one of the best cocktail bars in Melbourne
Hopscotch is rated as one of the top craft beer and cocktail bars in Melbourne, and with one quick glance at the menu, it’s easy to understand why. While most bars in South Melbourne either specialise in cocktails or craft brews, Hopscotch is one of those rare spots that does well on both fronts – plus, the owners commissioned local artists to decorate the walls, which gives the bar that quintessential Melbourne feel.
When it comes to their drinks menu, Hopscotch is out to impress. The bar stocks more than 30 beers, ales, and stouts on tap from Australasia’s favourite brewers, including Stone & Wood, Stomping Ground Brewing Co, Little Creatures Brewing, and Byron Bay Brewery. Their cocktails are equally as delectable, with mouth-watering concoctions like a Salted Caramel Martini with toffee vodka, or a London Calling cocktail with gin, blood orange liqueur, and sparkling grapefruit.
One of the best bars in South Melbourne if you’re looking for a pre-show drink with a buzzing atmosphere
The Arts Centre Melbourne precinct is home to some of Melbourne’s most loved arts and performance venues, including Hamer Hall, State Theatre, and Fairfax Studio. If you’re in the area to catch a show, The Barre is the perfect option for a pre-show cocktail or a post-event chat with friends.
The Barre is located on the ground floor of the Theatres Building, and was designed with recycled floorboards from Hamer Hall’s redevelopment — a nod to Arts Centre’s rich heritage. The cocktail menu has a range of classic drinks, served with a twist: try a Chilli Margarita with Jalapeno-infused Tequila, or channel your inner Don Draper and sip on a Choc Chestnut Old Fashioned with chestnut liqueur and chocolate bitters.
The Barre also offers a broad selection of white, rose, red, and sparkling wine, and mulled wine for the winter months, as well as share plates if you’re feeling peckish before the show.
One of the best Melbourne cocktail bars if you want to impress that special someone
If you’re looking for a quirky venue for a date night in Southbank, you can’t go past The Waterslide Bar. Located on the south side of the Yarra River, this area was once home to the lively Prince’s Court precinct, where Melbournians gathered to listen to live music, enjoy circus shows, and get their thrills with the giant wooden Water Chute.
Although the circus performers and Water Chute are long gone, The Waterslide Bar still manages to bring the Prince’s Court vibe to life in modern day Melbourne: staff are dressed in vests and arm garters, and black and white pictures of the Water Chute adorn the walls and menu.
With one glance at the menu, it’s easy to see that The Waterslide Bar takes whisky seriously: their selection spans across several pages of the menu, and there’s even a Whisky Masterclass with tastings of rare whiskies from around the world. The bar also has a wide selection of spirits, including gin, rum, and vodka, as well as ciders, craft beers, and a cocktail menu, aptly named ‘Explorations of a Drunkard’.
One of only bars in South Melbourne with incredible aerial views of the city
There’s nothing quite like the sight of Melbourne’s cityscape at night, so it’s fitting to soak up a view of the city at Melbourne’s highest bar. 28 Skybar Lounge is located on Level 28 of the Crown complex, and is one of the best Southbank bars Melbourne has to offer if you want to enjoy drinks and a bird’s eye view of Melbourne after dark.
28 Skybar whips up a selection of delicious cocktails, including a Choc-Nutty concoction with peanut butter and Crème de Cacao, and a Lamington drink inspired by one of Australia’s most-loved sweet treats. The bar and lounge also has a selection of Australian red, white, sparkling, and rose wines, as well as champagne from Reims and Epernay in France – if you’re in the mood for something special.
A great Southbank beer garden and bar for an afternoon drink
Tucked under Southbank’s Pedestrian Bridge in the middle of the Yarra River, Ponyfish is the perfect Southbank beer garden and cocktail bar for a summer drink or a sundowner. Started by three Melbourne friends (including Jerome Borazio, the man behind Sister Bella), Ponyfish embodies Melbourne’s ‘trendy without trying’ vibe, with laid back, industrial chic decor, plenty of plants and natural sunlight.
Ponyfish Island’s cocktails are all named in the spirit of marine exploration: the menu includes a Bloody Pony (a twist on the Bloody Mary), Blackbeard’s Ghost (with Old Forrester Whisky and blackberry), and a Double Crossbones (served warm with rum and caramel butter). Ponyfish also stocks a variety of local beers, including their own Ponyfish Unlikely Lager.
To top it off, Ponyfish is also open for breakfast, and serves up a selection of delicious toasties all year round.
The Meat & Wine Co in Southbank (that’s us!)
One of the best Southbank Melbourne restaurants and bars, with classic cocktails and world-class dining
We love Southbank, so it’s no surprise that we handpicked this area as one of the locations for The Meat & Wine Co. The Meat & Wine Co is regarded as one of the best Southbank restaurants out there, and exudes opulence over three floors in the Freshwater Place precinct.
After undergoing a million dollar renovation, our restaurant and bar provides a stylish setting for an elegant night out. The Meat & Wine Co Southbank blends rustic design elements, including concrete and timber, with African patterns and textiles, to deliver an unparalleled atmosphere for dining and drinking on the Yarra River.
During happy hour, Melbourne dazzles with its beautiful skyline, and the PUZA Lounge & Bar is the ideal place to sit back with a cocktail, and enjoy expansive views of the city across The Yarra. Cool down in summer months with an Aperol Fizz or a Sicilian Iced Tea, or try a glass of the finest South African Pinotage, a red wines from the famous Stellenbosch region.
After happy hour, indulge your taste buds with mouth-watering steaks cooked to your liking with African-inspired basting, and a seasonal menu of salads and skewered meats that will delight your palate.
Want to stop by for drinks or dinner in Southbank? Book a table online now.