We'd walked down Croft Lane quite a few times over our previous trips to Melbourne - lured by it's awesome graffiti. I knew there was something good at the end (the bench seats in the lane gave it away) but the place was NEVER open. This time The Croft Institute had kindly put up their opening times outside their door.
We pay them a visit after our dinner at Movida and arrive right on opening time - the best time I say as you can grab yourself a comfy seat, people watch, sip your cocktails and relax.
The Croft Institute looks a bit like a high school science lab - complete with beakers, test tubes and science benches fitted out with basins. And, of course drinks served with syringes. It sounds a bit naff - but it's not. It's fun and down to earth - the staff are cool and the crowd seems relaxed. The cocktail list is small - but the bar staff will make you whatever you want. Let's just say I was VERY happy when I left here.
Double Happiness is another great, quirky hole-in-wall bar that you'll find on Liverpool Street. It's not as "hidden" as the Croft Institute but the fact that the signage is not in English gives it a certain "hidden feel" (to me anway as I can't read Chinese)!
In the inside is a nod to all things Chinese + the fit out is quite old school "oriental". Statues of Chairman Mao are dotted around the place, Chinese murals adorn the walls and colour red features prominently. We particular loved the locked liquor cabinet behind the bar that houses booze bought by the regulars. Each little locked cupboard has someones name on it.
There are plenty more hidden bars to visit in Melbourne - if only we had more time. We poked our heads into The Toff in Town in the glorious Curtin House so that's on the list for next time.
The Croft Institute is at 21 Croft Alley, Melbourne (off little Bourke Street).
Double Happiness is at 21 Liverpool Street, Melbourne (also off little Bourke Street).