Sorry Sydney, but Melbourne really is one of the greatest cities in Australia. Sure, our beaches pale in compare to yours, but our CBD is so much easier to navigate, our laneways are magical, and our bars and restaurants are some of the best in the country.
Whether you’re north of the Yarra exploring Brunswick and Fitzroy, you’re deep in the south strolling along Fitzroy Street in St Kilda, or you’re smack bang in the middle of Bourke Street, you’re never more than a few metres away from a warm, inviting bar.
In this list, we recommend to you some of the biggest and best LGBTIQ+ friendly bars across Melbourne’s CBD. Oh, and the team at A Modern Gay’s Guide have personally tried and tested all of them, so you know they’re legit.
Fable Melbourne (@fablemelbourne) sits atop this list for a pretty important reason – it’s Melbourne’s highest rooftop bar. And at 13 floors high, it’s got both unmatched city views and a show stopping all-weather fitout, perfect for those cold Melbourne days.
It’s intimate and it’s versatile, meaning that it’s the perfect to bring both a first date and your best pals (…just maybe not at the same time).
What’s more is that Fable have just launched their first winter menu curated by Michelin-starred chef Alex Xinis, and complete with cosy drinks and hearty dishes. Their inspiration, they say, was to provide a variety of rich and hearty dishes perfect for cold winter nights.
Our personal faves were the fiery jalapeno poppers stuffed with vegan chevre, and their Amazon cocktail which, btw, is a passion fruit lovers FANTASY.
Other menu items include cured kingfish, roasted heirloom carrots, and an array of roasted meats – all of which are gluten free, meaning that Fable really is available for everyone regardless of their dietary requirements.
Fable Melbourne is open from 5pm-1am Wednesday and Thursday, 3pm-2am Friday and Saturday, and 3pm-12am on Sundays.
The one thing we have to warn you about before stepping foot atop Pomelo’s rooftop is that you will quite literally never want to leave.
A fun-loving, sun drenched rooftop bar, Pomelo Rooftop (@pomelorooftop) is on the corners of Bourke and Russell Streets in the CBD.
Its entire schtick is very 80s Miami Art Deco, complete with whacky shapes and bold colours inspired by the granddaddy of the citrus world, the Pomelo.
What makes this bar even more unique, however, is their approach to the drinks they serve. The Pomelo team – headed by the incredibly charismatic and quirky Zii – create, carbonate, and can their own range of seltzers, creating a close-loop waste program with their downstairs neighbour, Bouvardia.
Essentially, Pomelo take all of Bouvardia’s cocktail production wastage and repurpose it for their canned program. Their ‘Ms. O’Peel’ seltzer, for example, utilises wasted banana and lime from Bouvardia to create a miso-fuelled banana daiquiri seltzer.
But our definitive faves on the menu at Pomelo have to be their ‘Minor Tom’ (with passionfruit and mandarin), and their ‘Peaches N Cream’ (with salted peach and black tea).
They also offer both a ‘bitter’ and a ‘creamy’ Espresso Martini (something we’ve never experienced anywhere else), they provide reusable metal straws with their drinks, and the whole venue is an Instagram baddy’s DREAM.
Pomelo Rooftop is open from 3pm until late 7 days a week.
Unlike the other two bars on this list, Storyville (@storyvillemelbourne) isn’t a rooftop bar. Instead, it’s a dark, mysterious, venue located down Waratah Place, just off Lonsdale Street.
From the moment you step through the door into this noir fantasy you’ll discover a world of nostalgia and wonder, where anything is possible.
By day, Storyville calls themselves a cocktail theatre, where they serve only the most OTT cocktails, complete with flames, fairy floss, and fog. By night, however, the venue becomes Storyville After Dark, with DJs and a dance floor all night long.
Of course, Storyville is built upon childhood fables that we know and love, offering a truly unique and whimsical experience to all.
On the menu, you can expect to see cocktails inspired by ‘Beauty & The Beast’, ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Goldilocks’, and even ‘Harry Potter’.
If you crave something a little more traditional, however, Storyvilles ‘potion masters’ are very versatile – so just let them know if you’re craving a classic cocktail (like an Espresso Martini or an Old Fashioned) because they can be whipped up for you in no time!
Storyville is open from 5pm until late Tuesday – Sunday.
Oh, and once you’ve cycled through all of these LGBTIQ+ friendly venues, why not check out some of Melbourne’s best lesbian-friendly bars?