You’re never far from a good Victorian drink in Yarraville.

This little inner western enclave is home to one of Melbourne’s chirpier urban villages, where lazy afternoon drinks can turn into aperitivo hour and post-dinner cocktails quicker than you can say “only six stops from Flinders Street on the Werribee train line”.

Frankly, you could nix the bar crawl and head to the art deco Sun Theatre. This local landmark ensures maximum movie enjoyment thanks to a well-stocked cellar that celebrates the western wine regions with Craiglee cab sav and Scotchman’s Hill sauv blanc. Nice.

But we’re here to explore, so flag that visit for the next Hemsworth release and follow the blue dot to the backstreet big cheese known as Navi ( You might know it as a tweezer-happy restaurant that’s booked out months in advance and has won every award going, but its chef owner Julian Hills has thoughtfully added the adjacent Navi Lounge to sling cocktails and snacks at commitment-phobes, bless him. Moody concrete walls and film noir lighting make the perfect setting for super creative cocktails, often made with syrups and infusions using kitchen offcuts. You’ll always find a play on the Martini – built, perhaps, on a Melbourne Gin Company gin washed in duck fat, and gussied up with saltbush, fino sherry and sheep whey vodka – or a Margarita showing off its complex side with smoked paperbark tequila. A side order of the crunchy salt and vinegar fish skins is non-negotiable (to try them is to like them, we promise), and it’s also a brilliant opportunity to take a peek on the other side of the Navi curtain with restaurant signatures like the salmon roe and black garlic macaron.

Take your leave of the excellent bar staff and take the one kilometre walk back down to the village. We’re heading for the parklet-fronted Ms Botanica (, a bar optimising the sunset beauty of aperitivo hour with a mad froth of faux greenery and a gin-forward cocktail list written with confidence – see: the Smokin’ Chilli dog made with Heathcote Smokin’ Chilli gin. You might choose to get down with snacks like Sydney Rock oysters with gin granita, or a gilda gone bougie with tuna crudo and a pickled mussel; they also sport an equally keen line in non-alcoholic fun that means you can party like it’s 1999 with an alc-free Appletini.

Our next stop takes us around the corner to Melbourne’s least likely former Baker’s Delight. Bar Romanée ( is a Parisian vision plucked straight from the ninth arrondissement’s design playbook. Its chic bistro livery of mint green velvet booths and proper linen napkins explains a crowd going face-down in steak frites, but take your cues from the wine bottle-lined walls and commandeer a stool at the marble bar. French rosé and Quealy pinot gris might be among the daily pours by the glass from a 100-strong list sharing its love between old and new worlds: in short, there’s always something interesting to try.

Bookmark a return visit to try the full menu of chef Anna Quayle, a Pierre Koffman protégé with the full quiver of classical sauces at her disposal, and head seven doors up along Anderson Street. This is where you’ll find Barkley Johnson (, Romanée’s sibling bar that doubles as a deli and wine shop. It’s the kind of welcoming all-rounder where locals browse the shelves for a take-home drop or grab a coffee to go, but the smart money’s on commandeering a seat for a salumi board with a vino chaser – perhaps a Victorian cool-climate pinot noir – from a list of more than 180 bottles. Space is at a premium, so think communal and act friendly.

The bad news is it’s time to head to our last destination. The good news is that it’s less than 100 metres away. Swing open the door to the Railway Hotel ( and let 86 years of good pub vibes wash over you. Unassuming from the street, this classic corner pub has been zhoushed inside into the very model of the modern Aussie drinking hole. There’s a great rooftop deck and a smart reno that honours the deco era, but you can end your Yarraville crawl laughing in the face of gentrification with a game of pool and a pot of Furphy. Happy days.

By Larissa Dubecki