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Best Themed Bars in the Melbourne CBD

Home > Melbourne > Bars | Cocktail Bars | Lists | Nightlife | Unusual Things to do
by Anthea Batsakis (subscribe)
Twitter: @antheabanthea
Published August 21st 2013
For a different experience, try one of these bars

Listed here in not any particular order are some of Melbourne's most interesting themed bars that will impress anyone from a hot date to an out of town friend!

Asian Beer Café
Theme: All things Asian

Asian Beer Café is an interesting mix of Asian culture with alcohol. It would be difficult to find a space more nostalgically and generally Asian that encourages drinking in the Australian way. To put a karate kick on exactly which Asian culture is represented in this bar is also easier said than done. There's a bit of everything from Buddhist statues to anime to the indescribability of products from Japan (ask anyone who's been to their men's bathrooms). When you've been rendered speechless from the extensive variety of imported Asian beers, a popular favourite being Kung Fu Rice Lager, you can watch bizarre Kung Fu films which silently backdrop the bar on screens in every room.

While this 'beer café' has a lot to offer, their four dollar pizza and unbelievable happy hours are its main attraction. Two for one cocktails, cheap jugs and one dollar champagne will make conversations more interesting on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Asian Beer Cafe

Asian Beer Cafe Webpage
Location: Level 3, Melbourne Central/211 La Trobe St, Melbourne

Madame Brussels
Theme: Indoor tennis/garden party

Madame Brussels is my favourite bar in Melbourne and if you visit hopefully you'll see why! But for now, I'll attempt to give you a taste of their cheeky decadence. Its theme is met with style and a subtle naughtiness that you'll discover after a few of their highly alcoholic - I mean highly delicious - cocktails or teas. For A Night at the Roxbury fans reading, and I hope there are some, you'll find that outside looks like inside, and inside looks like outside! Well, at least inside looks like outside. Outside, you'll see a beautiful rooftop view of Bourke Street with plenty of seating and heaters. Inside is a terrace complete with fake grass, a garden path that leads to the bar, and intimate seating.

This bar is perfect for drinks and conversations underscored by relaxed music. You won't be able to resist their delicious variety of cocktails, imported beers and wines; and if you get hungry, nibbles and chocolate fondue are the answer to whatever the question!

Madame Brussels
All roads lead to the bar

Madame Brussels Webpage
Location: 63 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Croft Institute
Theme: psychedelic old-school science lab/abandoned gymnasium

Croft Institute is widely recognised as one of Melbourne's weirdest bars. In typical Melbourne fashion, it is located around the corner of a graffiti coloured alleyway in Chinatown that makes you wonder whether you're going in the right direction. When you're greeted by a fast-paced line and fast-paced techno music, you'll know that you've hit the Croft Institute and a departure from reality waits inside. Once down the rabbit hole, you'll notice interesting absinthe-infused drink specials that are made in the bar surrounded by beakers and conical flasks, lit up by fluorescent lights. The Croft Institute's principal novelty is the cocktails that come with fake plastic syringes, in true mad scientist manner.

Leaving the downstairs chemi-cool theme behind, you can stumble up to their abandoned gymnasium themed upstairs bar, which 'sports' the same level of music and dancing. Their creative layout makes this place ideal for their events such as product launches, arthouse films, fashion photoshoots and Melbourne Comedy Festival shows. The Croft Institute is a bar to be seen and experienced. You don't have to be a chemist to drink hydro-gin!

Croft Institute
Walking into the Croft Institute

Croft Institute Webpage
Location: 21 Croft Alley Melbourne

Theme: 19th Century

I can think of 1806 reasons as to why this bar is so beautiful and unique, but describing them all to you might be a little excessive. Instead, let the numerous awards that this internationally recognised bar has won over the years be an indication. 1806 is the year the first cocktail was defined in print, and ultimately this bar is its tribute. It has a sophisticated, antique theme where the top-hat-wearing bartenders are as talented as they are attractive. Chandeliers, red curtains and mirrored walls provide the framework to the lavish décor that projects a refined atmosphere, reminiscent of the romantic era.

For the hungrier cocktail drinkers, food is also available that is as extravagant as the setting. The bar also regularly holds unique experiences such as murder mystery nights and 'make your own cocktail' classes for those inspired by the remarkable drinks menu! There is no better place to create a cocktail than from the experienced and romantic 1806.

Take a seat at 1806

1806 Webpage
Location: 169 Exhibition St, Melbourne

Berlin Bar
Theme: East and West Berlin

No need for a flux capacitor to experience the essence one of the most significant aspects of Germanic history! Berlin Bar unites the division of a city in turmoil into a single bar. This wunder-bar takes you back to when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, as both the East and West are represented in different sides of the bar. The West is prosperous with white leather seating, private booths and a 60s vintage vibe; the other is gritty and complete with bunker beds as seats to a table placed on a bath. Together they share a nostalgic Charlie Chaplin motif, no doubt inspired by his film the Great Dictator. In the bar's East, Chaplin films soundlessly animate a wall from a projector screen that really heightens the retro vibe of the whole bar, while also giving you something to look at if your conversation lacks lustre.

However, Bar-lin isn't all about the décor. Once shown to your seats by one of the waiters, you'll get an extensive list of very elaborate cocktails, all $20 and all very appealing. If that's not enough to allure you, their proximity to House of Maximon, Brutale and FAD Gallery will set you up for a fun night out!

Berlin Bar

Berlin Bar Webpage
Location: 16 Corrs Ln, Melbourne

More themed bars in Melbourne city include: Robot Bar, 29th Apartment, The Sherlock Holmes Inn
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Why? For unique bar experiences
When: Varies depending on bar
Cost: Check their websites, differs between businesses and nights
Your Comment
Nice list. I've been to the first three, but will need to check off the last two.
by Katy Holliday (score: 3|1133) 2508 days ago
Heading to Melbourne at the end of the year - MUST check out as many of these as I can!
by Cayrole (score: 1|54) 2508 days ago
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