A brewery doing more to tackle climate change than the Australian government. Lamb’s brains on a plate, washed down with Pisco Sours. And perhaps the ultimate example of our city’s long history of putting the fanciest possible venue right on the river.
The number of bar openings perhaps slowed slightly in Brisbane in 2018, but what we got was quality over quantity, a new batch of unique boozers that covers everything from footloose frothies, to cocktails in the wee hours.
Here’s what to check out.
This over-water bar lifted the game for Brisbane. Sitting directly beneath the Story Bridge in the new Howard Smith Wharves precinct, Brisbane-based interior designer Anna Spiro created the space and also dreamt up its unique octagonal structure. The colourfully textured, mirrored interior is pure opulence, as is the menu by head chef Damien Styles (formerly of The Fish House) – caviar, lobster rolls and prawn cocktails are paired with cocktails, spritzes, wine, craft beers and jaw-dropping city views. If you’re after something more casual head to Felons Brewing Co, just next door.
When you think of beer, you probably don’t think about sustainability. But the three environmental engineers behind this Yeerongpilly brewery do. Helios is powered by 59 solar panels and a 15-kilowatt inverter. On tap find six core brews, including the Poseidon Pale Ale and Hades’ Bitter Chocolate Stout, as well as two rotationals. Downstairs is the brewing operation and a timber bar, while the level above is more spacious with a large seating area and boardgames for kids. Different food trucks pull up out front every night the brewpub is open.
Given the queues of people waiting to get into Savile Row every Friday and Saturday night, perhaps it was only a matter of time before co-owners Martin Lange, Trent Goodwin and Kahn Millis opened a follow-up just across the road. The result is Finney Isles, a charismatic 50-seat boozer hidden behind a cool blue door on the corners of Warner and Ann streets. The drinks list this time tilts towards wine, with around 14 by the glass from natural and biodynamic producers, plus beer taps, cocktails, plenty of gin and a charcuterie menu.
The Old Seven
During his 23 years in the liquor industry, Matt Lucas developed a love for rosé, so you can expect plenty of it at his French-inspired cafe-wine bar in Camp Hill. The small 35-seat space on Old Cleveland Road has 100 wines on offer, 22 by the glass. A stunning green-tiled bar doubles as the coffee counter by day. A small breakfast menu switches to tartines, jaffles and charcuterie boards when the wine comes out.
With the May opening of Range Brewing, Newstead confirmed itself as the home of Brisbane’s craft-beer scene. Originally Gerard Martin and Matt McIver planned to open Range in their hometown Toowoomba, but eventually decided the idea was too big for the small city. Expect a changing roster from bold IPAs and sour ales, to oatmeal stouts. Pair a pint with a simple sourdough pizza.
Boom Boom Room
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this basement cocktail bar is just a glitzy pre-dinner holding pen for Chinese restaurant Donna Chang. The first dedicated boozer from Ghanem Group (Donna Chang, Blackbird Bar & Grill, Byblos, Lord of the Wings) has a heavy focus on cocktails, and guests can buy their own bottle of whisky to keep in a locked cabinet at the venue. The heritage-listed former bank vault is dimly lit with lots of dark blue and gold trim. And yes, you can order from an abbreviated snacks and yum cha menu prepared in the Donna Chang kitchen upstairs.
A series of slick pop-ups helped refine Mongrel’s concept of easy-going drinking matched to Peruvian-style street eats, before Annie Bingley, Gabriel Escalante-Gafu and Henry Wu found a permanent space on Park Road earlier this year. Beef-tongue tacos, lamb-brain croquettes and mushroom ceviche are just a few of the street eats that draw on chef Escalante-Gafu’s South American roots. Out front Bingley and Wu pour local brews from five taps, cocktails and independent wines.
American ex-pat Jesse Barbera wanted to revive the classic 1980s Australian pub. With plenty of hardwood, a timber-top bar, tiles and a small stage, Blute’s Bar hits the nail on the head (it probably helps that it’s slap bang in the middle of Brunswick Street Mall). Cover bands regularly take the mic, food comes directly from the Lucky Egg kitchen next door (with the addition of chicken and eggplant parmigianas) and you’ll find 14 beer taps plus a wine list.
A small red lamp illuminates this otherwise black shopfront adjacent to Suncorp Stadium. Step inside and you’ll find a Cuban-themed cocktail bar creating drinks with in-house distilled spirits and often using native botanicals such as lemon myrtle, pepperberry, tamarind and quandongs. The Malecón aims to be a cross between prohibition-era 1930s New York and the relaxed vibes of modern-day Cuba. Weekly Cuban-style jazz and rum-focused tasting sessions keep things interesting.
Enter this stack of stark-white shipping containers on McLachlan Street and be transported to a multi-level, 1255-square-metre adult playground inspired by 1970s Miami. Within there are three bars, a cafe, commercial kitchen and lawn for food trucks. The bars stock beer and wine on tap, plus cocktails and spirits. Best of all, you can bring your dog.
C'est Bon Bar
Tippler’s Tap New Farm
Welcome to Bowen Hills
Felons Brewing Co
B. Lucky & Sons