Wim’s Occasional Guide to Melbourne Bars

The Melbourne CBD is awesome.
And part of what makes it awesome is the ridiculous amount of bars.
I like exploring them, particularly the quirky ones.
I’m going to do the occasional review here.
Feel free to add your own.
First Uber off the rank…

The Croft Institute
Location: off off Little Bourke Street, Chinatown
Theme: Science Lab
Clientele: Surprisingly corporate

This place is a bugger to find.

Don’t lose faith, though, you’ll get there if you just keep going.
The bartenders are the sort that think they have an avocation, like baristas. I don’t really have an opinion about that, as long as they’re friendly as well, and the staff at TCI definitely are.
It’s not a comfy place.
They play doof music, but it’s not loud enough to be an issue.

This pic should give you an idea of the decor and the schtick.
That’s just a spritz, there’s nothing special about the actual drink.
I thought they might serve shots in the syringes which would be kinda cool, but, nuh.

I can highly recommend the Zooper Dooper cocktail which tastes exactly like a purple (blackcurrant) Zooper Dooper, just noticeably more potent.

I’m not posting a pic of the bathroom(s) because I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.
It’s the best part of the place, with a Saw/Bioshock kind of vibe.

I personally wouldn’t spend a large part of the session there, but well worth a look and a couple of drinks before moving on.



Madame Brussels

Location: Paris end of Collins Street
Theme: Old timey classy bordello
Clientele: Cosmopolitan. Smart Casual.

This is…kind of difficult.
Because the bar itself is fantastic.
I can’t imagine it would be much fun in the winter, but for all other seasons it’s an easy, breezy, relaxed rooftop bar (there’s a roofed but open section that few patrons wanted anything to do with) that has nice views of the street and well spaced seating.

But there was something that bugged me about the place, and that was it’s schtick.
Apparently it’s on the site of an old famous Melbourne Madame.
I mean, I said the theme…you saw what I said the theme was, but it’s not like that at all, really.
It’s actually more English Garden Party. It’s dainty.

You’re going to have to put up with a few pics of me and Mrs Wim. Sorry.

Except for the ridiculous and sleazy puns on every item on the drinks and food menu.
Except for the fact that they blatantly say that this is an excellent spot for upskirting.
Which it is.
But, you know, gross.
It made me uncomfortable and I’m a blokey bloke, I can’t imagine how they think that’s attractive to its frankly more female than male patrons.

I don’t know why they do it.
There is nothing sexy about this place (it’s sister bar, though, whooeee! But that’s a tale for another day) and that’s okay.
What it is, though, is like entering another city, and another time.
The charcuterie board is well above average, too.



I see what you’re doing here and I thinks it’s incredibly admirable RN. Also, doing on top of the work you do normally, you need a pat on the back.


I’d forgotten about The Croft Institute. I used to go there a bit back around 2002/03 before I moved. Glad to see it’s still got its shtick. It always had some very attractive clientele a single guy could try his lines on (usually unsuccessfully).



Location: Flinders Lane Between Elizabeth and Bond
Theme: Pinball/Arcade (as in Galaga, not Skee Ball) games
Clientele: 18-50 very casual/lil bit bogan

That’s it, really.
What it says on the label.
They say they have rare and vintage pinball, but if they have any vintage at all then it’s not many.
Which is fine, because these new fangled pinnies are actually pretty cool.

Even if you really need to read a manual first to get a decent score, just keeping the ball in play doesn’t really do so well.

They have booths that you can hire out for small parties to play Mario Kart together, if that’s your kinda thing.
It’s not mine.

They have a decent amount of stand-up arcade games, no cocktail ones, mostly old favourites…

…and a few that never became classics but bring a smile of recognition.

There’s an outdoor smoking area, concrete and basic but functional.
The bar isn’t particularly well stocked.

There’s really no frills here. It’s a bit dark and dingy, but the vibe doesn’t feel dangerous at all.
There’s not a huge amount of machines, but enough that there’s always something decent to play.

They’re renovating, apparently. I didn’t see that when I went, but it will be interesting to see how much it changes.



Whisky and alement
Bar ampere/Gin palace

Both great options if you need a couple more places to look at.

Gin Palace is definitely on the list for future explorations.


You should venture down to 18th Amendment in Geelong.


Eau de vie


The CBD is more than enough for me.
I won’t even be doing Fitzroy and Prahran where I’m told there are some excellent quirky bars.
But all are more than welcome to.

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What do you count as a vintage pinnie? Something from the 60s, or Twilight Zone?

I’d call Playboy and Pinbot vintage and Addams Family and Getaway classic.

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Sounds reasonable. That “classic” generation, which is like 25+ years old now, was fantastic.

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Pinnies I like:

Mata Hari
HR (I owned one of these)

so many others I can’t remember

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My favourites were all the 90s ones.

The Addams Family, The Getaway, ST:TNG, Guns and Roses, The Twilight Zone, Theatre of Magic, Jurassic Park, etc etc.

Although I feel like I’m missing an obvious one that I played a lot.

Oh yeah they had that soccer World cup one at the Punters for a while there…played that quite a bit

Very underwhelming IMHO. (On what is now an infrequent visit to Marvellous Melbourne).

A bar in Melbourne I would recommend: Supper Club.

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T2 was a classic.

When you actually shot the ball at the target!


Probably showing my innate dullness, but I like Cookie. There’s no theme. It’s just a bar where they have good beer, wine and cocktails, and that’s why I like it.

You can eat there but the food is overpriced for what it is.