The round-up: where to seek out Brisbane’s best hidden bars
Brisbane’s small-bar scene is a trove of secret speakeasies and hidden haunts. While broadcasting the location of Brisbane’s best hidden boozers might take the fun out of exploring, these incognito imbibing destinations are too good not to share. Here’s our list of Brisbane’s best hidden bars – see if you can find them all!
The Bothy, Mitchelton: Like a few of the bars featured on this list, The Bothy is best described as a bar within a bar. Though it’s a standalone sip spot, The Bothy is accessed via a sliding door tucked away at the rear of The Woods on Blackwood Street. Named after the basic shelter commonly found in sparsely populated areas of the countryside in Scotland, Wales and England, this raw and minimal abode is the spot to find top-tier cocktails that are both simple and complex, as well as seasonal. The back bar boasts a focus on independent labels and small-batch distillations (as well as a tight list of approachable and funky, skins-y wines), while a food menu features small share plates and charcuterie boards wrought from locally sourced, hyper-seasonal produce.
The Tailors, Woolloongabba: From the street, The Tailors looks just like its namesake – an old-school haberdashery for gents seeking some slick suiting. Inside, it’s a different story. The Tailors is actually a cosy 35-seat drinkery and live-music venue inspired by the small bar culture of Central and South America. Comfy teal banquettes, back-lit mirrors, twinkling fairy lights and travel posters create an intimate and character-filled vibe, while the bar slings ten kinds of cocktails informed by Tiki and Latin American influences (and plenty of rum). Cuban jazz trios and South American salsa ensembles take the stage on the weekends, making The Tailors one happenin’ hideaway.
Next Episode, South Brisbane: If you’ve wandered down Fish Lane and heard the bassy thump of hip-hop emerging from a closed barber shop, you’re not going crazy. You just stumbled upon Next Episode – a secretive 35-seater that is all about providing the party vibes. A neon-pink sign and an illuminated barber’s pole are the only indicators that Next Episode even exists, but enter a code into a telephone at the entrance and you’ll be granted passage into Next Episode’s interior, which is coated in murals of rap stars illuminated by more pink neon. Once settled inside, enjoy drinks named after iconic rappers, wine and champagne, tinnies, and tap beers.
Mrs J Rabbits, Woolloongabba: The team behind The Tailors certainly has an affinity for hidden bars. Head upstairs at the crew’s other Logan Road establishment Electric Avenue and you’ll find Mrs J Rabbits, a speakeasy-style venue adorned in antique oddities and furnished in cushy vintage couches. Bespoke cocktails and luxurious liquors are a specialty here, with a collection of more than 150 spirits, including rare whiskies and gins, available alongside a small bar-snack menu featuring smoked almonds, chicken pate, and cheese and charcuterie boards.
Cindy Chow’s Theatre & Cocktail Bar, Fortitude Valley: This 1920s Shanghai-inspired speakeasy is located in a subterranean site on Brunswick Street. Once you find it (look for a fridge with a neon ‘No Entry’ sign affixed to it), you’ll never want to leave. Jazz ensembles make the energy electric, while bartenders dispense dreamy drinks that you can enjoy in cushy couches or booths. Cindy Chow’s is a bar with secrets upon secrets – a low-ceilinged whisky den can be found underneath the main entrance stairs, while a red-hued poker lounge hosts friendly no-stakes games and private gatherings out back.
The Walrus Club, Toowong: This dapperly dressed underground den takes prohibition-era aesthetics and transports them to Toowong, where guests to the Regatta Hotel can slink in to sample the bar’s sizeable range of sips. More than 150 specialty rum blends are available alongside hundreds of bottles of other mid-range and premium spirits sourced from around the world. That’s not all – guests can snack on tapas style bites and pizzas as a playlist of jazz, swing and big band numbers fills the air.
1st Edition, Fortitude Valley: Most comic-book heroes have a secret lair of some sort. In a similar sense, superhero-inspired bar and eatery 1st Edition can be considered a secret lair for pop-culture fans. It can be a tricky one to find the first time – head down the far end of California Lane and look for the bar adorned in neon lights and Spider-Man and Batman murals. The bar, which seats 22 guests, is coated in covers of iconic comic-book issues encased in resin, which makes for great reading material while you wait for the blockbuster feed ahead of you. 1st Edition specialises in share-style bites (which fuse influences from Asia and America) and elaborate cocktails, all of which are named in honour of iconic caped crusaders.
Mermaid Bar @ Lefty’s Music Hall, Petrie Terrace: Caxton Street icon Lefty’s Music Hall is far from hidden – this honky-tonk inspired bar has long been a popular spot for a whisky apple cocktail. That said, many folks that pop in are oblivious to the fact that above the Americana-inspired main bar sits another smaller boozer with a distinct nautical theme. Mermaid Bar boasts a string of cushy booths for intimate groupings and a bar slinging rum-based drinks. It’s also great for functions, if you want to show off your hidden bar knowledge to all of your friends.
The Boom Boom Room, Brisbane City: While Donna Chang racks up culinary accolades at its glamorous street-level restaurant, its subterranean sibling The Boom Boom Room is the spot for in-the-know drinkers that want a more low-key (but no less luxurious) experience. Located below the old Queensland Government Savings Bank building, The Boom Boom Room makes use of the bank’s old vaults and architecture to create an opulent and intricate aesthetic – perfect for sophisticated sips. The kitchen is tasked with crafting a range of Japanese izakaya-inspired morsels (including sashimi and yakitori), while the bar serves expertly crafted cocktails, sake, wine and bar, plus a selection of premium Japanese whiskies.
Miss Demeanour, Brisbane City: Who doesn’t love a laneway bar? The entrance to Miss Demeanour can be found just off the beaten track (Edward Street) down Rowes Lane in the site that over the years has housed Rosie’s Nightclub and Sonny’s House of Blues. These days, the bar is accoutred sturdy sandstone walls (a heritage fixture), black leather booths, timber furnishings and mood lighting. A stacked menu of burgers, wings and fries joins a bounty of beverages (think beers, wines and cocktails), so if you haven’t found Miss Demeanour yet we suggest you get searching!
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