Let’s get loud – moody rock ‘n’ roll-inspired boozer O’Skulligans opens in The Valley
It’s been a weird year for Brisbane’s nightlife, but as revellers gradually slink back to their favourite watering holes, Fortitude Valley’s bar scene is starting to not only show signs of a bounce back, but also some growth. The Happy Horsemen, the hospitality collective behind bars like Black Bear Lodge, Blute’s Bar and The Brightside has shaken up its portfolio, transforming understated cocktail joint Barbara into rough-and-tumble live-music bar O’Skulligans. If you’re keen to take a walk on the dark side, don your battle vest or leather jacket and scope out Warner Street’s new rowdy resident.
The idea for O’Skulligans was first conceptualised years ago in the back of a tour van – one that was ferrying Jesse Barbera and a collection of his music mates between interstate gigs. As the crew whiled away the hours in transit, they jokingly swapped ideas for an ambitious bar concept that was one part Irish pub and one part heavy-metal bar. An idea that far fetched needed an equally bold name to suit, so Jesse dubbed their dream drinkery O’Skulligans. The notion was set aside as a whiskey-soaked flight of fancy, relegated to pipe-dream status until 2020, when a similarly unlikely set of circumstances (a global pandemic) afforded Jesse – now a co-founder of The Happy Horsemen hospitality group – a chance to take stock. As the group’s collection of venues hibernated during lockdown, the team decided to use the free time to breathe some new life into one of their outlets. Barbara – the group’s beloved Warner Street bar – was flagging with the abrupt cessation of private functions, so Jesse and co. elected to roll the dice on a left-field sister venue to The Brightside across the road that could add a spark of life to The Valley’s boozy milieu. You can probably guess which idea was tabled – the O’Skulligans name was dusted off and considered, with the bones of the idea proving just the ticket for lively dive-bar pivot The Happy Horsemen envisioned. While the venue isn’t fully following through on its audacious conceptual beginnings, it’s still bringing plenty of its roguish personality to the fore.
At its core, O’Skulligans is a rock ‘n’ roll lounge bar, a cosy live-music venue that fit snugly within the group’s music-focused purview. When it came to implementing an appropriately grungy aesthetic change, the O’Skulligans have cribbed from Mick Jagger and co. by painting (nearly) everything black. The moody palette is offset by a collection of live-music photos documenting some of Brisbane’s current and former rock heroes, as well as a painted mural on the feature wall behind the newly installed stage dedicated to Philter Brewing. Barbara’s L-shaped seating arrangement has been removed in favour of a flexible scattering of tables and couches. A long bench (with a cluster of stools) lines the windows looking out towards Warner Street, while the bar itself now boasts a pressed-metal facade. As for drinks, O’Skulligans is keeping things simple. Beer is a primary focus, with taps dedicated to craft beers from Philter, Green Beacon, Young Henrys (plus XXXX Gold and O’Skulligans own house lager). Other top picks include Jameson picklebacks, Jack Daniels (or Jack Daniels Fire) and fresh apple juice, boilermakers, and bourbon with in-house peach iced tea. A clutch of new-wave wines and a selection of classic cocktails flesh out the drinks selection, while bags of freshly popped crack corn are on hand for idle snacking. O’Skulligans will soon host gigs on Thursday evenings, showcasing local acts that don’t mind getting a little bit loud on a school night.
O’Skulligans has softly opened on Warner Street. Hit the Stumble Guide for operating hours and social media links!
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