Brunswick East is the bull market of the Melbourne bar scene. It’s a 'burb blessed with a growth mindset, and a buzzworthy watering hole opens up every other week. 

The good news about an East Brunny bar crawl is that you don’t have to worry about wearing out your shoe rubber. We’re talking a compact little zone that packs so much drinking and snacking fun into its mileage you can consider it the Cottee’s cordial concentrate of good times. 

Sticking to two main thoroughfares, Lygon and Nicholson streets, means a compass and emergency flare aren’t necessary in these parts. It’s linear, it’s logical and there are two tram lines for the terminally lazy. Now get moving. 

Let’s start at the start of Lygon Street as it crosses the Brunswick Road boundary from Carlton North. (Don’t you love the way the street numbers wind back to 1 and begin again? If only we could do the same to ourselves like this in the post-bar crawl morning.) 

First port of call: Etta, the wine bar with a much-celebrated menu. It boasts hats, stars and gongs galore but block your ears to the siren song of the dining room and perch in the bar, where the late afternoon sun adds the perfect cinematic glow to left-of-centre aperitivo tipples – perhaps a Martini exploring its identity with the help of sake and sesame oil, or a house-made soda spruced up with yuzu, or something from the wine list that jaunts across the globe in the company of small, always interesting producers (although a special shout-out lands close to home with the house sparkling, a gorgeously toasty blanc de blanc Etta’s powerhouse owner Hannah Green has created with Yarra Valley winemaker Dominic Valentine).

It would be easy to nix the crawl before it even gets started and settle in for the evening but dig deep and head 150 metres northwards. That’s where you’ll find Maggie’s Snacks and Liquor waiting with its lo-fi charms, wallet-friendly aperitivo hour and sophisticated cocktail list. If you’ve ever wondered what Margot Robbie tastes like, here’s your answer: a pink-hued mix of mistelle, vodka, moscato grappa and house-made pistachio syrup with a citrus kick. Nice. Or maybe you’re more amenable to the winter-worthy charms of the Smoked Plum Bramble. The house beer, a crisp tap lager made with Brunswick’s own Co-Conspirators, makes an ideal choice to ride shotgun with the Kiwi-inflected snackage of chorizo-stuffed fried bread and kumara chips with onion dip. 

It’s time to cleanse the timeline. Tucked down Weston Street, Brunswick Aces is a distillery and bar specialising in zero-proof booze. Sound like a contradiction in terms? Try a convincing alcohol-free Gin and Tonic made with their own sapiir, a gin-like botanical-heavy distillate, and stop sneering at the sober-curious movement (or try a real-deal G&T; there’s no judgment here).

Onwards we go, heading for the low lights and sweet tunes of Bahama Gold, the bijou wine bar opened in a stunning act of community service by the good folks from next-door restaurant Old Palm Liquor. Perch at the bar and get stuck into the house keg wines, made with minimal intervention mavens like Central Victoria’s Little Reddie. They’re good to go, too, if you’re prepared to tote a one-litre flagon of the good juice on the rest of your journey – although you might be inspired to make your own after our next stop, the “urban winery” Noisy Ritual where you can sign up to help make the next vintage, complete with a healthy spot of grape stomping. Ponder achieving this life aim over a six-wine tasting flight of their previous triumphs before casting off on the not-so-mean streets again with the GPS pinging on Bridge Road Brewers.

The Beechworth-born beer brand has set up its impressive urban brewery in the newly built East Brunswick Village, where it’s become a de facto civic square thanks to loads of space and 30 taps pouring the core range – hello, XPAs, pale ales, pilsners and lagers – and upping the fun factor with a bunch of small-batch releases. Oh, and there’s pizza.

All good crawls must come to an end, and our ends next door at Rocket Society, the bar hiding behind its big sibling, Middle Eastern restaurant Rumi. The funky décor leans into the cute backstory of a Beirut university club that wanted to join the 1960s space race (does anyone have a number for Wes Anderson?) while the drinks list is all smoky mezcal cocktails and light drinking wines from the Levant, Morocco, Oz and Europe. Add fizz to the night’s close with the Leb-Nat, a dangerously smashable Lebanese pet-nat, or bid adieu to East Brunswick the Old Fashioned way. 

By Larissa Dubecki