If you’re looking for a date bar in Melbourne CBD that will show off your knowledge of the city – say Hello to your Go-To List.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re searching for a bar to host your first date or the perfect bar setting for someone special in your life, it pays to be prepared. Regardless of the number of dates you have been on or how long you have been married, at some point you will need a bar with the appropriate romantic ambience. Now you’ll be able to come up with one—just off the top of your head.

The key elements to a great date bar include the right seating—you want to be able to touch, hold hands and maybe indulge in a bit of snuggling. The best date bars in Melbourne CBD have bar stools which allow you to sit side by side and work your way through the cocktail list, small intimate tables for conversation, or cosy couches for snuggling. Lighting goes a long way toward setting the mood—a date should be softly lit not illuminated by harsh fluorescent lights or spotlights. The bar staff play a key role in setting the tone of your date. Seek out bars where staff can read their audience and float in the background when they’re not required, yet present themselves to provide exceptional service and recommendations when you are ready to order. Here are the Melbourne bars that deliver.

122 Russell Street, Melbourne

If you weren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t notice this inconspicuous little gem situated on Russell Street. Embla is a city wine bar with the perfect lighting and seating options. Perch at the bar, select a street view to watch the buzz of Russell Street, or take a small table for private conversation. Embla is proud of their ‘slightly weird’ taste in wine. They are certainly worth a tasty bottle and the perfect setting for any date night.

Nibbles: Yes. Perfect before or after dinner, or for dinner itself
Bookings: They do not take bookings
Ideal for: First dates/all dates
Recommend: Ask for a wine recommendation
Website: Embla

1806 Cocktail Bar
169 Exhibition St, Melbourne 

Melbourne’s very own full-service cocktail bar where old-fashioned style is fashionable. This bar’s well-informed mixologists will share the story behind every drink they prepare for you and are only too willing to provide you with recommendations to suit your tastes. Romantic and stylish, this is an ideal place to get cosy and work your way through a menu that is not short on cocktail surprises. Oh, they also have a range of whiskeys with a cheese accompaniment.

Nibbles: Yes, plus a full menu
Bookings: You can book or walk in
Ideal for: First dates/all dates
Recommend: Any cocktail creation. Ask the wait staff for their recommendation based on your taste buds.
Website: 1806

Mary Fortune
91 – 93 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 

A lavish marble bar, chandeliers and an abundance of style is what you’ll find when you enter Mary Fortune from one of Melbourne’s cobblestone laneways. This hidden bar is only visited by those in the know. The establishment is named after Ms Fortune, Melbourne’s first female detective fiction author, who is also the inspiration behind the names of the cocktails. The bar is intimate enough for any kind of date and will leave an impression long after the night is over.

Nibbles: Nibbles and a full menu
Bookings: Walk in
Ideal for: A starter or an all-nighter
Recommend: The cocktails
Website: Mary Fortune

Izayaka Den
114 Russell St, Melbourne 

Depending on the night and time you arrive, be prepared to wait. This popular underground den has all the ingredients for a Japanese indulgence. Izayaka Den provides the option to sit up at the bar or score the cosy couch-style seating—wherever you are situated you’ll be able to get up close and personal with your date. Though this is a restaurant, it certainly warrants a place on the Best Bar List.

Nibbles: Yes, plus a full menu
Bookings: You can book or walk in
Ideal for: Longer term dating
Recommend: The food—it is scrumptious
Website: Izayaka Den

Romeo Lane
1 Crossley St, Melbourne 

Romeo and Juliet, Sampson and Delilah—it goes without saying that if they’d had the chance, their date nights would be here. The petite, fairy-light-strewn courtyard positioned out the back is the perfect setting for a bit of R.O.M.A.N.C.E. The bar is tucked away in what was the heart of Melbourne’s red light district during the mid-1800s. The narrow street was originally named Romeo Lane before being renamed in 1876. Treat your date to a little touch of history at this lovely venue.

Nibbles: Yes. However, the selection is limited
Bookings: Not needed, walk in
Ideal for: Any date
Recommend: The wine list
Website: Romeo Lane

The Duke – 2/146 Flinders Street, Melbourne

Sitting on top of The Duke, The Duchess is a stylish restaurant with a bar area that is perfect for a first date. The venue offers a selection of cocktails and international wines, as well as delicious bar snacks. The restaurant has cozy banquette tables while the bar provides taller tables for a drink and a snack. Wear your dancing shoes and you could kick on into the early hours with dancing until 3 am.

Nibbles: Yes–delicious
Bookings: No–walk in only
Ideal for: First dates
Recommend: Getting there between 5 and 7 pm for half price cocktails or staying late for the $11 cocktails between 11 pm and 1 am.
Website: Dutchess

The Atrium Bar on 35
Sofitel Melbourne On Collins L35- 25 Collins Street, Melbourne

This is an oldie but a goodie. 35 Collins has been around for well over a decade and remains one of my favourite bars. This is a go to bar when looking for simple elegance and delectable cocktails among plush seating. It will provide a wonderful start to your night.

Nibbles: No
Bookings: Not needed, walk in
Ideal for: First dates/any date
Recommend: Step into the bathroom (not together or the same one) to check out the spectacular vista of Melbourne at night
Website: The Atrium Bar

Eau De Vie Melbourne
1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne

Nothing can prepare you for the delights behind the non-descript brown doors. You’ll be transported back to 1920s prohibition-America by the decadent setting and decor. The knowledgeable staff are only too happy to recommend one of their famous whiskeys, cocktails or other concoctions. You have the choice of watching the bar staff work their magic at the bar, sitting at the high tables, choosing the low banquette seating, or sinking into one of the intimate booths. This is a must for any date night, the venue is an experience in itself.

Nibbles: Yes
Bookings: Suggest booking – as it’s no longer Melbourne’s best kept ‘secret bar’
Ideal for: All dates
Recommend: Whiskey in the secret Whiskey Room!
Website: Eaudevie