There’s really only a handful of things a wine bar really needs to qualify for a great date spot.
- Perfect lighting and an excellent selection of drinks.
- A vibe and energy you can playoff, in case of awkward emergency silences.
- A couple of great dishes, so you have no excuse to leave.
- And some flexibility in the seating layout, so you can transition from front-on to a cosy ‘side sit’ … if everything goes well.
The good news? In the food and drink crazed/obsessed/deranged city of Melbourne, you actually can have it all. We have far too many players in the game who have seriously nailed it.
What we don’t have, however, are the guys who know about them.
What’s more important than the establishment itself on date night, is the fact that you suggested it in the first place. With an effortlessly simple yet brilliantly strategised, ‘how about … Marion Bar?’ You instantly gain a point for effortless charm in our books – in just one name drop.
And believe us, from a woman’s perspective, when a man knows what he’s doing, it goes a long way.
But if you need a bit of inspiration, look no further — the contents of this article are all yours to claim and free to a good home. And we’ve included favourites both north and south of the river, for whichever end of the hipster spectrum you or her fall in.
They claim to try and execute the simple very well, but simple is an understatement. You get a world-class drinking experience here at Bar Liberty amidst the grunge and derelict of Fitzroy. It’s an intimate spot with a tonne of appeal. The bartenders are in a league of their own. Use them for a bit of banter to soothe out any nerves between you and your date at the start.
The sign of a great date is when you totally lose track of time, and this energetic basement bistro – where it could be midday or midnight, New York or Paris – is here to help you. The place is big, but there are lots of corner booths to sink into and enjoy both their ‘snack’ or full-size cocktails and tasty fare.
Bouzy Bar à Vins
You feel like you’re in Paris, even though you know you’re in Melbourne, but you decide to milk all of that gooey French romantic ambience anyway. Sit in charming King’s Arcade for a night in the City of Love she’ll never forget with all the trimmings. A great all-year-rounder with heaters and blankets on offer during winter.
City Wine Shop
Set your own pace, glass by glass, or hopefully, pull bottle after bottle of local or international favourites straight off the shelf. This place oozes the same European charm and elegance as it’s surrounding heritage buildings. There are enough Italian classics for a snack or full meal, and you can always extend the date to next door with artisanal gelato at Spring Street Grocer.
Gerald’s Bar is always buzzing and choosing between 200 wines is as good an ice breaker as you’ll get. Be quick to order some snacks off the menu handwritten on butchers’ paper before all of them are sold-out. In a quiet part of Carlton North, this place is more of a final destination but will keep you sorted for the whole night.
Kirk’s Wine Bar
A gorgeous cosmopolitan hangout with 1950’s sentiment. Can’t beat a corner location with the choice between an idyllic indoor setting, or people-watching under cosy blankets with an aperitif along Hardware Lane. There’s an even more intimate hideout in the basement with space for 12.
Marion Wine Bar
Andrew McConnell’s more casual option still provides a super-comprehensive wine list, ensuring there will be plenty of options for you both to get stuck into, at surprisingly not too extravagant prices. You’ll find lots of little nooks for seating, but the banquets with Gertrude Street views, or stools in front of ‘dead man’s lane’ are definitely prime position.
And remember boys, no matter how good a movie is; star-studded cast, big-budget action scenes, fantastic soundtrack…if the entire storyline turns to shit in the last few minutes, that’s what you’re going to leave the cinema thinking about.
What do I mean by that? The bill. Don’t fall short, don’t do the dance. You are so close to the finish line! Many will start fast, but not many will finish strong. It is up to you, just cop it on the chin and she might spring for date two.