With top chefs and cocktail connoisseurs found in bars all across Melbourne, the city has become renowned for its world-class food and drinks culture. As such, navigating through the maze of bars, pubs, and clubs to find a delicious drink that won’t break the bank can prove a challenge. Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work and tracked down the top (budget-friendly) bars that the city has to offer. Ladies and gentlemen, in no particular order, these are the best happy hours in Melbourne to visit right now.
1. Tyranny of Distance
Tyranny’s earthy-toned walls and eclectic décor make this vibrant indoor-outdoor venue a Windsor favourite. Then there’s the happy hour. From 4 – 7 pm, indulge in some ridiculously well-priced wine, spirits, beer or whatever else takes your fancy while waiting for your dinner reservation at the ever-popular Mr Miyagi or Hawker Hall.
Where: 147 Union Street, Windsor, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $4 wine, basic spirits, and selected beers, $10 daily cocktail
When: Daily from 4 pm – 7 pm
2. 56 Bricks
Embodying the meaning of effortlessly cool, Windsor’s 56 Bricks is a hub of artistic talent and delicious drinks. Focusing on promoting local artists, it regularly exhibits fresh artworks on its expansive walls while undiscovered live acts play in the upstairs bar. If you clock off work late, don’t worry. This happy hour runs from 4 – 9 pm.
Where: 56 Chapel Street, Windsor, Melbourne
Happy Hour: $6 spirits and wines, $7 pints
When: Daily from 4 pm – 9 pm
3. Cantina St Kilda
Located under St Kilda’s iconic boutique hotel ‘The Prince’, Cantina is an explosion of Mexican carnival atmosphere, great food, and better drinks. Enjoy a feast of authentic Mexican dishes such as pulled pork tacos, BBQ corn, and spiced cinnamon churros before washing them down with a classic margarita. For an extra festive night, come on Taco Tuesday and pair a sizzling $5 taco with your happy hour cocktail.
Where: 2 Ackland Street, St Kilda, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $10 house cocktails
When: Weekdays from 5 pm – 7 pm
4. European Bier Cafe
In the heart of the CBD, European Bier Cafe provides four levels of drinks, food, and fun. This dynamic venue hosts a retro pizzeria in the basement, a luxe main bar, and a modern rooftop garden with lush hanging plants, vibrant umbrellas, and an excellent liquor collection. With a variety of happy hour deals on every day of the week and lasting until the early hours of the morning, it’s hard to find a reason not to visit this stylish bar.
Where: 120 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $7.50 basic spirits
When: Sunday to Thursday from 8 pm – 1 am
Bonus Special 1: Half-price tap beer, $10 cocktails, $6 house spirits
When: Mondays from 5 pm
Bonus Special 2: $20 for any cocktail carafe
When: Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm – 6 pm
5. Hoo Haa Bar
Cheeseburger dumplings, tempura fish tacos, and lobster corn dogs, oh my! Hoo Haa Bar and its adjoining restaurant Kuku Mama is a vibrant venue with a gorgeous beer garden and a killer cocktail menu. Have you ever tried a Pink Chilean Flamingo, Musk Duck, or Passionfruit White Chocolate Martini? At only $10 during happy hour, you’ll want to try all three and more of their delicious drinks.
Where: 105 Chapel Street, Windsor Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $4 basic spirits, $5 house wine and bubbles, $6 Furphy pints, $10 cocktails
When: Tuesday to Saturday from 4 pm – 7 pm
6. Bimbo Deluxe
Rooftop parties every Sunday, check. $4 pizzas until 3 am daily, check. For anyone looking for great food, original tunes, and an unbeatable Sunday happy hour, this one is for you. With espresso martinis on offer for a bargain $10, a Sunday at Bimbo will have you dancing well into the early hours of the morning.
Where: 376 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $5 Sailor Jerry spiced rum, $10 espresso martinis, and $10 Bloody Marys
When: Sundays from Midday – Midnight
7. Asian Beer Cafe
Asian Beer Cafe, or ‘ABC’, is renowned in the university student community for its eclectic, Asian-inspired decor, buzzing atmosphere, and stellar prices. Whether you opt to sit inside the vibrant bar and listen to the music or relax on the expansive balcony overlooking the city, ABC is destined to become your new go-to.
Where: Level 3 of Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $6 selected spirits, $8 Sumo’s Choice jugs
When: Daily from 4 pm – 8 pm
8. The Bridge Hotel
Can’t decide whether you want to visit a sophisticated cocktail lounge, pumping nightclub, or chic street bar? At the Bridge Hotel, you can have all three. With an edgy, cobblestoned laneway running through the centre, a glamorous indoor bar on either side, and DJ’s spinning tunes down the back, there is indeed something for everyone at this popular Richmond venue.
Where: 642 Bridge Road, Richmond, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $4 pots, $7 pints, $5 house wines
When: Fridays from 5 pm – 7 pm
Bonus Special: $13 espresso martinis
When: Fridays from 9 pm
9. Sisters of Society
Sisters of Society is here for you when it comes to a great night out that won’t break the bank. Featuring sleek, cosy booths, retro neon lights, cheap parmigiana on Wednesdays, and live music on Fridays and Sundays, this bar is a winner with all crowds.
Where: 254 Chapel Street, Prahran, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $10 pint of Furphy
Bonus Special: Ladies’ Night – $6 sparkling and $12 espresso martinis
When: Thursdays from 5 pm
10. College Lawn Hotel
Featuring live music, $15 steak Tuesdays, Wednesday night trivia, Saturday live sports match screenings, and more; College Lawn Hotel is always buzzing with crowds. When it comes to Friday, kick off the end of a long work week in their sprawling beer garden with a drink (or two) during happy hour.
Where: 36 Greville St, Prahran
Happy Hour Special: $7 wine, pints and basic spirits
When: Fridays from 5 pm to 7 pm
11. Captain Baxter
Looking out across the dazzling water of Port Phillip Bay and the beach below, St Kilda’s Captain Baxter is the ultimate summer hangout. Hosting live music every night and sumptuous oysters for $2 each on Friday evenings, this beachside oasis is perfect for your next date night or catch-up with close friends.
Where: St Kilda Sea Baths, 10/18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $12 classic cocktails, $6 Coronas, $6 house sparkling and wine
When: Weekdays from 5 pm – 6 pm
12. The Swan Hotel
This iconic Richmond pub holds a prime location on the corner of Swan and Church Streets. Sit back and relax in the modern beer garden while enjoying some live music or catching up on the latest sporting game live on the big screen. Situated just a stone’s throw away from the MCG, keep your eyes open for local sports stars kicking back with a hard-earned Black Angus steak or a mouth-watering parmigiana after a game of AFL.
Where: 425 Church Street Richmond, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $3.50 pots, $7 pints (local Australian beers)
When: Weekdays from 5 pm – 7 pm
Located in the popular bar district of South Yarra, Imperial is a luxe, vibrant venue that never fails to impress. With a sleek, striking interior, enticing menu, and live entertainment on the weekends, this bar has earned its prestigious reputation. Whether you’re seeking top-shelf spirits such as Glenmorangie and Belvedere, boutique gins, a glass of Chandon, or a simple pint of beer, Imperial has something to suit every taste.
Where: 522 Chapel Street, South Yarra, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $7 for all drinks (excluding cocktails, pints, and bottles of wine)
When: Daily from 4 pm – 7 pm
14. Somewhere Bar
For those times when your friend asks “Where are we going?”, “Somewhere” should be your response. Along with a witty name and relaxed atmosphere, this small boutique venue boasts a secret garden vibe with exposed brick walls and vines hanging from the bar. Located on the ever-buzzing Chapel Street, this is a great place to stop off for a drink or three with friends at any hour of the day. After all, it’s always five o’clock somewhere.
Where: 181 Chapel Street, Prahran, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $5 wine, $6 basics, $12 jugs
When: Sunday to Thursday from 5:30 pm
15. The Mill House
If you’re looking for an atmospheric place to get your espresso martini fix, The Mill House lies in wait on Flinders Lane. While there, why not try a Tequila Mockingbird before dancing the night away to the music of live DJs. In this sultry setting, the lights are low, and the cocktails flow. For a late-night feed, snack on one of The Mill House’s gourmet truffle mac and cheeses or some mouth-watering fish and chips.
Where: 277-279 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $7.50 pint of Boags, basic spirits, and house wines
When: Daily from 4 pm – 6 pm
Bonus Special: $20 cocktail carafes
16. Munich Brauhaus
For an evening or an afternoon filled with revelry and the live music of a German Oom-Pah band, make your way to South Wharf’s Munich Brauhaus. With multiple levels, including a traditional beer hall, this restaurant/bar is famous for its exclusively imported Bavarian beer and hearty dinner feasts.
Where: 45 South Wharf Promenade, South Wharf, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $5 for any craft beer, house spirit, house wine, or daily cocktail
When: Daily from 4 pm – 7 pm
17. Bosozuko HQ
If you’re dreaming of Japan but can’t quite afford a plane ticket, head over to the Japanese rally car-inspired bar, Bosozuko HQ. Ever tried a crumbed swordfish burger in a green tea bun? Neither had we until we discovered this delicious burger bar. The hidden venue is an explosion of lights, colour, and mouthwatering cocktails, which pair perfectly with the must-try food. In case that isn’t enough to lure you in, they also have private rooms to play Mario Kart on the big screen or sing karaoke, and a dry ice spa.
Where: 34A Bray St, South Yarra, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $5 beer, wine, and sake shots
When: Fridays from 4 pm – 6 pm
Transforming playing video games in the basement into a fun, adventurous night out, Bartronica is Australia’s famous arcade bar. Enjoy a cocktail or some local beer while playing rare, original arcade games from the 1970s to the 1990s and trying your luck on the pinball machines.
Where: Basement, 335 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $4.50 pots, $7 pints
When: Tuesday to Friday from 3 pm – 6 pm
A favourite of locals, Katuk’s quirky library-themed décor makes it a classy, yet homely place to spend a night out. Lay back on one of the wide couches or hideaway in one of the booths while playing some Connect Four. Add top-notch cocktails or a few beers to the equation and prepare to make Katuk your new Friday go-to.
Where: 517 Chapel St, South Yarra, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: $12 cocktails, $5 wines, half-price pot, pints, and jugs
When: Fridays from 5 pm – 9 pm
20. Maeve Fox
While its trendy little sister bar Katuk resides in South Yarra, Maeve Fox is the cool older brother over in Richmond. Full of wit, expect to find quirky cocktails such as Orange is the New…, Treuse or Dare, and Sweet Chai of Mine at this classy cocktail bar. For locals who live or work in Richmond, sign up to the bar’s Locals’ Club and make every hour spent there a happy one. Members receive 25% off drinks at both Maeve Fox and Katuk as well as a complimentary bar tab on their birthday.
Where: 472 Church St, Richmond, Melbourne
Happy Hour Special: Half price tap beer, $4 wine, $10 modern cocktails
When: Fridays from 5 pm – 9 pm
Bonus Special: Half-price wine, cocktails, beer, and spirits
When: Sundays from 5 pm until midnight
Why is it called Happy Hour?
The name Happy Hour originated in the US Navy in the 1910s and was a designated time for various entertainment to relieve the boredom of ship life. The name was adopted for drinking during the Prohibition, when people would sneak off to speakeasies to imbibe before dinner, thus creating cocktail hour or happy hour. Now, it refers to a few hours during the day (often between 4 and 7 pm) where bars served discounted drinks before patrons head off to dinner.
What can I drink at happy hour?
Happy hours specials most commonly include selected beers and the house wines, and sometimes also basic spirits. A few places might offer a happy hour cocktail as well.
What is the best happy hour in Melbourne?
There are lots of great places for happy hour in Melbourne. Try Sisters of Society, Tyranny of Distance, 56 Bricks, Cantina St Kilda, or Hoo Haa Bar.
Which is the best happy hour in Melbourne CBD?
If you’re in the Melbourne CBD and keen for a happy hour drink, the best places to head are European Bier Café, Asian Beer Café, The Mill House, or Bartronica.
Alexandra Linde is an experienced writer holding a bachelor's degree in Journalism. She is the owner of Alexandra McKiterick Creative and has expertise in travel, fashion, fitness and lifestyle. Alex has previously written for Flightcenter, Travello, and Backpacker Deals.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.