Easy to fall for: The bar at Nighthawks in Collingwood.
Easy to fall for: The bar at Nighthawks in Collingwood. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

136 Johnston St Collingwood, VIC 3066

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Opening hours Tue to Thu 4pm-11pm, Fri 4pm-1am, Sat 2pm-1am, Sun 2pm-11pm
Features Licensed, Outdoor seating
Phone No phone

Named after Edward Hopper's iconic oil painting of a lonely, late night New York City diner (you know the one), this neighbourhood hang is retro and rock'n'roll​, and very easy to fall for.

A boldly painted sign on the front window welcomes you into a warm space that makes all the right moves for the Collingwood share-house set. Reminiscent of the no-frills Kent Street bar up on Smith Street, with a sprinkle of the nearby Tote, it swings from rowdy to downbeat in an instant.

Tall padded stools line the smooth, L-shaped bar – perfect for solo barflies – and there's a trio of comfortable booths that can accommodate a spilled drink or two. A cosy back courtyard has been landscaped with benches, covered awnings and, for some reason, an empty old Kelvinator. With Bluebird Espresso over the fence, dirty tunes on the stereo, and quirky curios lining the walls (taxidermy, '80s ghetto blasters) the vibe is very Brooklyn via Shoreditch but still feels like Melbourne.

Shake it: The negroni is tart and generous.
Shake it: The negroni is tart and generous. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

Drinks are strong and straight talking: four taps of New Zealand brewer Monteith's beers include the cheap as chips Big Wolf lager, or grab a tall can of hipster fave Pabst Blue Ribbon to sip on. You could choose from five Australian reds and five whites all hovering around the $50 a bottle mark, but your best bet is to have a chat to owner-occupiers, Leah Henry and Marcus Davies, who will shake up something to your liking. A textbook espresso martini, perhaps, or a tart, generous negroni in a wide, heavy tumbler. Delish. 

After several years working on the Edinburgh hospitality scene, the couple juggled jobs at local venues such as New York Tomato and Ponyfish Island before opening this debut solo venture last month, and there's a real sense of possibility buzzing around. Just don't come hungry, as snacks are restricted to bags of heavily salted rather skinny Chinese peanuts in their shells.

Pick up a business card on your way out and you'll see the bar's official motto is "Be Nice Or Leave". Words to live by.

Drink this
 Negroni, $20
Eat this Shelled peanuts, $4
Say this "Who wants a game of Time Warp?"
Know this Co-owner Marcus Davies built the bar himself