Windsor welcomes smokin’-hot pitmaster’s paradise Proof BBQ & Booze
Booze, barbecue and bang-on service – these are the three Bs that form Proof’s prime directive. The latest in Brisbane’s long line of stellar suburban bars is redefining public-house hospitality, luring in locals with a combination of good grub, good drink and good chat. If meat by the pound and whiskey by the drink sounds like your idea of a good time, follow the scent of wood smoke down Newmarket Road to Proof BBQ & Booze.
Ryan Lane has had the pleasure of travelling all over America thanks to his work as one of Brisbane’s finest drink slingers at The Gresham. Even compared to the raucous vibes of New Orleans and the uptown sophistication of New York, no place owns Ryan’s heart quite like Kentucky – a place he has visited half a dozen times in the past few years alone. Every visit saw Ryan seek out two things – top-shelf American whiskey and the finest barbecued fare he could sink his teeth into. These two loves were something he shared with kindred culinary spirit Michael Cameron, a former beer rep with Brooklyn Brewery and competitive barbecue chef in his own right. The two buds constantly joked about pooling their know-how to open a bar that specialised in American-style barbecue and personable drinks service and, as you can expect, jokes eventually turned into serious discussions. Soon the duo were scoping the city for a spot that would suit and, as a resident of the Windsor area, Ryan thought there was a need and a want for a local bar that favoured the kind of personalised service that encouraged repeat custom. The space formerly home to Harry’s Diner on Newmarket Road proved ideal for Ryan and Mick’s purposes, and they soon got to work implementing a vibe that was wholly their own. A refurbishment saw Harry’s outmoded aesthetic replaced by a warmer palette of timber and leather – not long after Proof BBQ & Booze officially opened for business.
Being the seasoned pitmaster, Michael elected to spearhead Proof’s barbecue offering. In America, barbecue differs stylistically from state to state, but here Michael has eschewed a regional focus in favour of a diverse mix of traditional elements that foreground his own recipes for rubs and sauces. Michael has installed two kinds of smoker for Proof’s meaty offering – an insulated charcoal smoker from Metal Monkey used to cook Proof’s olives, chickens and smoked-fruit cobbler, and a sizeable Hog Pit offset smoker out the front that can cook up to eight briskets (or roughly 75 kilos) at once over ironbark and cherry wood. Proof’s by-the-pound meat selection includes beef brisket and short rib, pulled pork, pork ribs, hot links and smoked chickens, accompanied by fixings such as burnt ends, corn bread and collard greens. The rest of the menu is fleshed out with a mouth-watering selection of eats including taxi fries (deep-fried chicken skin), sweet smoked pecan wings, double beef-and-cheese smash burger, barbecue-shrimp grits, mac’n’cheese, a 50-ounce tomahawk to share, and smoked watermelon with prosciutto and gorgonzola.
Over at the bar, Ryan has conscientiously simplified the experience to better provide adaptability and organic growth. Designed to be a local’s bar, Ryan is more than happy to take on requests for particular drops, and hopes to remove any preconceptions that Proof aligns with any specialty. That being said, as a die-hard whiskey fan Ryan has ensured Proof is well stocked with top-flight options – more than 100 choices are available by the drink. Four beer taps have been installed, one pouring Fourex, another dispensing Guinness and two for rotating craft drops. The fridge stocks 15 beer varieties, while the shelves feature a selection of wines and spirits (ten cocktails are also available). As important as the booze itself, Ryan is looking to instil a personable vibe into Proof’s service, encouraging diners to sit, dine and chat at the counter (which was widened to accommodate trays of meaty morsels), while Proof’s bar team pour and serve the food in tandem.
Proof BBQ & Booze is now open. For operating hours and contact details, seek out the venue in our Stumble Guide.
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