At the fancy end of the market, the recent renovation at Cutler & Co (55-57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, 03 9419 4888) added a sleek and sexy bar replete with covetable snacks and cocktails, while cocktails are elevated to art at both Dinner By Heston Blumenthal (Crown Towers, Level 3, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank, 03 9292 5779) and at Lûmé (226 Coventry St, South Melbourne, 03 9690 0785). Bar Di Stasio (31 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, 03 9525 3999) keeps classic Italian drinks flowing alongside addictive snacks and Hihou (Level 1, 1 Flinders La, Melbourne, 03 9654 5465) takes you to Tokyo for the night, Japanese-style cocktails and all. The Everleigh (Level 1, 150-156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, 03 9416 2229), one of the nation's leading cocktail haunts, now has more bar seating, while its naughty little sister bar, Heartbreaker (234A Russell St, Melbourne, (03) 9041 0856) is as great a late-nighter as ever.
Other cocktail champions include Black Pearl (304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, 03 9417 0455), the tiny Romeo Lane (1a Crossley St, Melbourne, 0457 673 647) and the even tinier Bar Americano (20 Presgrave Pl, Melbourne). See also Above Board (1/ 306 Smith St, Collingwood; enter via Chopper La), an austere lab with thrillingly good drinks.
Wine? Smalls (20-22 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne, 03 9686 2990) is compact, but its wine is big on ambition. In The Alps (64 Commercial Rd, Prahran, 03 9529 4988), cru burgundy rubs shoulders with spritzy pet-nat, while Clever Polly's (313 Victoria St, West Melbourne, 03 9077 9294) is a natural-wine clubhouse, as is Bar Liberty (234 Johnston St, Fitzroy).
Whisky lovers are well catered for at both Whisky & Alement (270 Russell St, Melbourne, 03 9654 1284) and The Elysian (113 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, 03 9417 7441).
Good times and good eats and the confident patina of relative old age can be had at Gertrude St Enoteca (229 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, 03 9415 8262), the Melbourne neighbourhood-bar benchmark Gerald's Bar (386 Rathdowne St, Carlton North, 03 9349 4748) and bar-bottleshop pioneer City Wine Shop (159 Spring St, Melbourne, 03 9654 6657). There's another potential neighbourhood classic at Loretta's (32 St Georges Road South, Fitzroy North, 03 9972 1815), which churns out some of the best cocktails in the north with American-style barbecue on the side.
Looking for a new rooftop to drink on? Good Heavens (Level 2, 79 Bourke St, Melbourne) will cure what ails you with its Palm Springs-inspired décor and a good line in fruity, frivolous cocktails.