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Open: Wed-Sat 5pm-late
Charlie's Bar is the kind of place they tell you about in all the tour brochures. It's located down Melbourne's bustling Hardware Lane, is suitably hard to find and has that speakeasy vibe perfected. In other words, it encapsulates Melbourne's bar culture nicely.
Make your way inside, down the dark stairwell, and you'll find a selection of private booths, all of them curtained off and furnished with a selection of brick-a-brac: old books, vintage wines, retro lamps - you get the idea. The building itself dates back to 1889 and has been used for various purposes in that time. According to the cocktail menu, the premises once served as the headquarters for a human hair importer.
Cocktails at Charlie's aren't cheap (averaging $17), but they're expertly constructed by the professional bar staff. While all the classics you would expect are on the menu, there are also some wonderful local combinations - like Russian Spring Punch: Vodka, berry liquor and lemon juice, served tall over ice, topped with sparkling wine and finished with blueberries.
Drop in on a Thursday and alongside the regular selection you'll find a number of showcase cocktails for only $9 a pop. The scotch-based Blood and Sand is particularly delicious. But then you'd expect that from a modern-day speakeasy. With thick red drapes, chandeliers, a great underground atmosphere and expert bar staff, Charlie's comes highly recommended.