6 of the best Happy Hours in Melbourne

Happy hour is a wonderful clocking-off ritual that separates our social and working lives, taking us out of our inboxes and back to the company of our friends. And now offices are filled once again, the hour break between work and play is as important as ever. 

Rather than the images the movies conjure of packed dive-bars and a rush to the bottom of each glass, happy hour these days is a foodie occasion, packed with craft cocktails and mocktails, plates of charcuterie and cheese, bowls of olives and of course crispy hot chips. 

Research from OpenTable tells us that the majority of Aussies are out and about at least once a week to meet friends, catch up and make the most of happy hour deals, with a G&T proving the most popular order. Now, a Gin & Tonic never goes unappreciated (nor does a bowl of hot chips either) but our best advice would be to use the discounted drinks as an excellent opportunity to try something (and somewhere) new and special. This is your chance to throw caution to the wind and find out if the new Italian joint near work is any good, if you like a Martini dry or wet or if a Strawberry Mojito pairs with fish tacos as you’ve always suspected it might.

Here’s 6 venues to get you started, but be sure to explore plenty more Happy Hours in your area on OpenTable.

Sixty Smith, Collingwood

Tuesday-Saturday, 4pm-7pm:  $6 Schooners, $8 House Wines, $10 Selected Gin & Tonics & $16 Selected House Cocktails 

Sixty Smith is the bar personification of a ‘choose your own adventure’. With four distinct areas, including a cosy front bar, a greenery and light-filled dining room, a covered beer garden and an upstairs Attic, you can really tailor your happy hour to the exact vibe you’re after – be it cosy drinks and intimate chats or a more rowdy warm up to the weekend. This continues into the menu of globally-inspired tapas, so you can sip and snack or sip and feast depending on how many plates catch your eye. While the menu changes often, its staples are always rich and tasty, think bites such as truffle and wild mushroom arancini or eggplant popcorn with miso, ginger and soy. Pair with a happy hour signature cocktail such as the holiday-inspired Banana with coconut bourbon, banana skins fino, banana liqueur and demerara or a zippy and fresh Mint with gin, clarified lime juice and mint oleo-saccharum. All the drinks here focus on one ingredient (hint in the names), making the pairing with dishes an incredibly fun mix & match game. 

Mama Le – Kensington

Wednesday-Saturday, 5pm-6pm: Signature cocktails $15, Wine $7, Tap Beer $7 

Take a seat at the bar of this vibrant Vietnamese fusion restaurant from 5pm to soak in the happy hour joy. Neon lights, a menu stacked with salty and savoury small bites and cocktails down to $15 make it the perfect circuit breaker post work. Our tip is to embrace the bold flavours here and order a Spicy Mama from the drinks menu, using Vietnamese chilli-infused-tequila, cucumber, citrus and agave. If you like the heat toned down just give them a wink and ask for a Baby Spice instead. For a more sip and savour experience you can’t skip the Osaka Sour, a classic whisky drink using Japan’s Toki (pronounced tok-ee if you want to nail it when ordering). As for snacks, you’re either grazing on edamame with Mama’s secret salt or diving headfirst into the Vietnamese Tacos. Fusion at its finest. 

Mount Erica, Prahran

Weekdays 4pm-6pm: Oysters & fizz, 1/2 dozen oysters w. a glass of fizz $22

Fun fact, oysters and sparkling aren’t just a cliché pairing, there’s science behind this duo. To test it out, hit send on that final email and get yourself to Mount Erica for happy hour on any given weekday. This lively venue has odes to British cosy country pubs, with plush furnishings, wood panelling and a fireplace to plant yourself in front of come winter, which is balanced with an outdoor garden that lets you soak up the sun in the warmer months. But back to that pairing – it’s called umami synergy and it works by marrying the savouriness found in the oysters with that found in the wine, caused by the process to make it fizzy. That coupled with the effervescence adds more surface area for our taste buds to enjoy and you have a mouth-watering match. For a mere $22 in the comfort of Mount Erica, we’d suggest a science experiment is in your near future. 

Flour Child, St Kilda

Monday-Friday, 3pm-6pm: $15 Cocktails

Flour Child is a very polished Italian-inspired bar, like an opulent delicatessen with delicious drinks. Its green marble bar takes centre-stage and the happy hour drinks are a rainbow of colour and choice. Keep things simple with a Chilli Margarita at happy hour or go absolutely wild with their Coco-Colada served in a hollowed-out coconut – as we say, now is the time to try it all. The team are equally talented at mixing up classics and their Campari Spritz is the perfect match for the small plates pairing meats and cheese. Try the Casalingo hot salami and gorgonzola cheese or round up all your best mates to celebrate happy hour in style with the ‘trip around Italia’ board, Flour Child’s large grazing board stacked with delicacies.

Amarillo, Fitzroy

Monda -Sunday, from open-7pm.

A bright, modern neighbourhood bar, Amarillo has a loyal fan base who roll in for cocktails and wine come the afternoon and end up staying for dinner as the sharing plates pile high. Both the drinks and food here can be captured in the word ‘fresh’, think chilled reds and skin-contact whites, shaken East Sides with gin, mint and cucumber and snacks of shucked-to-order oysters and spring leaves with fig and radish. It’s the kind of fair that will leave you feeling pleasantly full and happy. Amarillo’s kitchen is open from Wednesdays, so your early week happy hour is a liquid pit-stop but come by later in the week for the full experience. 

The Bank on Collins, CBD 

Monday-Friday, 4.30pm-6.30pm; $14 cocktails, $7 house wines, $7 beers, $6 house spirits.

One of the great joys of living in cities is the plethora of experiences available, and none more so in Melbourne than to slink into this historic building and settle down for a glass of something good and a chef-selection of dips with toasted focaccia. It’s a little slither of old school luxury in happy hour. Opt for their sparkling wine or pick between an Espresso Martini, if you’ve got plans later, or a Negroni, if you don’t. We’d recommend taking a friend who’s just as amicable gazing at the high-vaulted ceilings and dangling chandeliers or people watching as they are chatting away.

Jane Ryan is a writer and content creator. She has worked for global and local publications and events such as Difford’s Guide, London Cocktail Week, Concrete Playground, PUNCH and Imbibe. Before she grew too old and tired to work two jobs, Jane enjoyed working in bars, particularly London’s Callooh Callay, Satan’s Whiskers and Trailer Happiness.

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