If your after work Friday drinks have the potential to turn from a short sprint into a marathon, then I recommend setting up camp at Fathers Office. With four hours of happy hour time (daily!!) and one of the longest lists of drinks specials I’ve come across of any bar in the CBD, it’s the perfect place to linger.
When it comes to bars in the CBD, Melbournians are spoiled for choice. However after several Friday nights researching different bars (yes that’s right. research…), it’s my opinion that while the city has a staggering amount of bars, not all of the ones that offer happy hour are ones that you will want to go to.
Many of the more high profile bars (especially the famous laneway bars) that the tourists and many locals love don’t offer happy hour. Which is not really surprising when many of them are elbow to elbow on a Friday night.
In my view, the challenge for the dedicated happy hour devotee is three fold:
a. To find a bar with a nice atmosphere – e.g. appropriate lighting, stylish décor (bonus points for hidden laneway location or if they have a rooftop)
b. That has people in it* (no-one likes to drink in an empty bar, especially on a Friday night), and it’s a friendly crowd (no-one wants to drink in the bar where they feel unwelcome)
*Note: ‘must have a high hipster quotient’ is not within these perimeters.
c. AND that offers a happy hour that is generous, good value for money, and goes for a decent time (it’s hard to justify stopping by a bar with a happy hour that only runs for, well, an HOUR. Especially if it starts at 5pm when half the office are still madly trying to make their end of the week deadlines.)
If we consider the above qualities, Fathers Office conceivably has one of the best Friday happy hour of any bar in the CBD.
Located on the site of the former Match Bar & Grill, a stone’s throw from the State Library, Swanston Street and the Wheeler Centre, it has a very long happy hour drinks list (and they actually have put it on their website!) where everything is $5. This includes not one but several options different options of wine, beer, sparkling and the basic spirits (gin, vodka, rum, bourbon etc) and even liqueurs such as Frangelico and Baileys. Happy hour happens every day (not just Friday) and goes from 5 to 7pm, breaks for an hour, and then continues on from 8 to 10pm. But the drinks are cheap even outside of happy hour – when the ‘normal’ price of the house wine is just $1 more than the happy hour price, there is really no reason to go anywhere else between 7 – 8pm.
There’s also a menu of tasty (and decently sized) bar snacks which range from $8-$14. The food they service here very much American diner / fast food vein (Buffalo wings, Texan chilli nachos and American cheeseburger, sliders etc) so don’t expect any low fat options. You might initially recoil at the cholesterol-inducing qualities of the Cheesey Bacon Beer Battered Fries when you first walk in (which is exactly as it sounds) but it certainly goes down well after several rounds!
On to the atmosphere and crowds.
In a city with a preponderance of watering holes not much larger than a shoebox, Fathers Office is definitely big by Melbourne standards. Its also busy and there’s an interesting and unlikely mix of people.
Here office workers, uni students and international visitors of varying ages mix, although its definitely skewed more towards mid to late ‘20s.
And even better, the natives are friendly – I’ve had some quite hilarious conversations with random people here which has made the night a great deal more memorable. And girls, I should also mention, the balance is definitely in your favour – on both nights I visited, there were definitely more guys in the room.
In addition to the bar, there’s also a decent sized restaurant and an outside deck where smokers converge to admire the gorgeous view of Swanston street. This will be an amazing place to hang out once summer comes round.
While the bar was two to three people deep, the capable staff turned it around quickly, so waiting time was minimal.
In this case the theme is VERY loose – there’s no 1920s music and with the exception of pictures of deco style lights and posters of mobsters from yesteryear on the way for the toilet, it doesn’t really look anything more than a big modern bar.
A bit more effort is made in the dining room.
But really, with these sort of prices and the fun vibe, who cares. A big thumbs up!
$25 Adventure Facts:
Fathers Office is at 249 Little Lonsdale street in the CBD (very close to State Library).
Their happy hour goes from 5-7pm and then 8-10pm daily (drinks are pretty cheap outside of happy hour too). Drink specials include about 30 or so different intoxicants including several types of wine, beer and the basic spirits (2 or 3 optins of gin, vodka, rum, bourbon, whiskey etc) and liquers including Frangelico and Baileys.
They also have $15 corporate lunches, a very reasonable menu of snacks and an a la carte menu in the restauarnt.