The round-up: Brisbane’s ten best bars as voted by you
Brisbane’s bar culture is booming, meaning we are never short of spots to get a cheeky knock-off cocktail or blow the froth off a few cold ones on a weekend. We’re not just lucky in the quantity stakes, we’ve also been blessed with a quality collection of watering holes. This year’s EAT/drink Awards asked readers to tell us which bars they thought deserved the honour of being named Brisbane’s best, and we’ve got to hand it to you – you’ve all got great taste. Although the title of Brisbane’s best bar was hotly contested, we’ve managed to narrow it down to a top ten list – with a little help from you all, of course.
Co-winner: Fitz + Potts, Nundah
No stranger to EAT/drink success, Fitz + Potts has worn in a nice groove for itself at the top of the Brisbane bar heap. What’s the secret? Perhaps its success can be credited to its stellar selection of craft beers. Or, maybe, it’s because of its unbeatable location on Sandgate Road. You can’t ignore its on point aesthetic and moreish selection of snacks, either. Maybe it’s because Fitz + Potts is the whole package. Regardless of your reasoning, you voted Fitz + Potts to the top, and deservedly so.
Co-winner: The Gresham, Brisbane City
Sharing space at the top of the peak is The Gresham – Brisbane City’s heritage-listed bar. If you’re after a lush space in which to sip on top-shelf rum, whiskey and wine, you’ve come to the right place. Since 2013, this bar has been taking a progressive approach to hospitality, with a cocktail list that warrants multiple visits. Last year the space also unveiled The Drawing Room – its slick new bar-within-a-bar that boasts character to spare.
Runner up: The Junk Bar, Ashgrove
Keeping the suburban bar dream alive is The Junk Bar, a cosy hideaway that pairs its sublime cocktails with a great array of live entertainment. Sink into a comfy couch and sip on mulled wine, espresso martinis or a full-bodied glass of red, or check out the killer musical acts in the Skukum Lounge and party until the wee hours. The Junk Bar claims that you don’t have to be based in the inner city to draw a crowd, and it seems you all agree.
Runner up: Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Petrie Terrace
If you haven’t enjoyed a lively night at Caxton Street’s Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, then you haven’t lived. This spacious honky-tonk saloon brings a touch of 19th century Americana to the Petrie Terrace strip, with dark leather and timbers, velvet drapes, chandeliers and mirrors. The bar serves up a huge selection of whiskey, beer, and wine across the main bar and upstairs rum bar, the Mermaid Lounge.
When we think boutique drinking experiences, our minds quickly turn to Canvas. This Woolloongabba cocktail bar and eatery holds a special place in the hearts of those in the inner south, with a massive range of inventive cocktails keeping thirsts quenched and the good times rolling. Canvas offers up everything from classic concoctions and beers to breakfast cocktails and absinthe fountain drips.
Gerard’s Bar, Fortitude Valley
Just off James Street’s stylish strip, Gerard’s Bar constantly delivers the goods with its Spanish-inspired tapas, charcuterie and cocktail offering. The industrial-chic aesthetic offers a stylish locale to spend an evening, with a menu of cocktails that utilises plenty of intriguing ingredients. Beyond the concoctions, Gerard’s Bar pours top-shelf champagne, wine, beer and cider, ticking all the boxes needed for success.
Cobbler, West End
It only takes 30 seconds inside acclaimed West End watering hole Cobbler to see that these folks mean business. Ascending above the bartenders is an impressive array of spirits (including more than 400 whiskies) that are filtered into a seasonal cocktail menu that absolutely slays. If you can’t find something you like, the professionals behind the bar will be able to make something that’ll tantalise your tastebuds.
Savile Row, Fortitude Valley
Cobbler’s younger sibling brought the heat to Fortitude Valley in 2017, bringing a similarly stellar offering to the entertainment precinct. Behind the venue’s orange door is a lush space that brings a tailored approach to hospitality with a timeless feeling and friendly approachability. Although it’s the newest entrant on this list, it hasn’t taken long for you to cotton on to its quality, thus explaining its spot.
Maker, South Brisbane
What Fish Lane’s hideaway cocktail joint lacks in space, it more than makes up for in quality. Boutique laneway bar Maker marries disparate flavours into distinctive and enticing combinations, pushing the boundaries when it comes to cocktail composition. We encourage anyone unfamiliar with Maker to settle in for a memorable experience – if you can score yourself a seat, that is!
Seymour’s Cocktails and Oysters, Petrie Terrace
While oysters and cocktails are an odd combination, at Seymour’s on Caxton Street it absolutely works. Inspired by the jazz bars of 1910s New Orleans, this swinging saloon bridges old-world charm with modern hospitality. If you like the idea of sending back a dozen oysters while sipping on a custom-made beverage, we think this hot spot is perfect for your tastes.
Best Institution Bar
Winner: Regatta Hotel, Toowong
Since the damage incurred by the fateful Brisbane floods in 2011, the Regatta Hotel has blossomed and taken on a new life, establishing itself once more as one of the best hospitality hubs in town. From the brilliant steaks at the Boatshed, the dynamo cocktails in The Walrus Club or the ice-cold beers on tap at the Main Bar, the Regatta Hotel is perfectly positioned to continue its top-flight service for decades to come.
Runner up: The Bowery, Fortitude Valley
Taking its inspiration from the storied dive bars of the Big Apple, The Bowery has forged a lasting legacy of its own thanks to its stylish décor and attention to details as far as cocktails are concerned. The bar buzzes on weekends with savvy sippers that settle only for the best. If quality is your top priority, then The Bowery should already be high on your list.
Runner up: Breakfast Creek Hotel, Albion
One of Queensland’s most revered hospitality destinations has been delivering the goods for decades, and is more icon than bar. That being said, the Brekkie Creek Hotel offers five bars to choose from, a tropical beer garden and the famous Spanish Garden Steakhouse. The Substation No.41 Rum Bar is a great spot to linger if you enjoy a sip of the heady dark liquor, while the main bar serves beer off the wood – or out of specialised wooden casks – instead of stainless steel kegs. It’s these sorts of twists that make the Breakfast Creek Hotel a veritable hospitality institution.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.