Surf’s up! Suzie Wong’s Good Time Bar opens in The Valley
Suzie Wong. It’s a name that been on the lips of Brisbane’s party scene for almost a month. Who is she? Where did she come from? What’s her deal? These are just a few of the questions we’ve asked ourselves ever since it was revealed that Suzie Wong was making her home in the heart of Fortitude Valley’s entertainment precinct. Suzie Wong’s Good Time Bar is her domain – a Hawaiian-inspired boozer that’s less a tiki-themed tipple joint and more of a grungy surf shack serving up cocktails, live music and, well, good times! It’s open now – come inside and say aloha …
Although the Drunken Monkey Group (the hospo crew behind Brisbane City venues Brooklyn Standard and Fat Angel Sports Bar & Grill) wasn’t in any rush to expand its portfolio at all, let alone to The Valley, when The Bowery’s ownership reached out and asked if they’d like to take over their long-tenured space on Ann Street the opportunity proved too good to resist. For Drunken Monkey’s Adam Barton, he had no interest in trying to replicate The Bowery’s awarded brand of hospitality – a near impossible feat considering The Bowery’s 17-year legacy. Instead, Adam and co-conspirator Harlen Ponting saw a chance to translate Brooklyn Standard’s renowned lively atmosphere to Brisbane’s busy party strip, bringing with them their love of live music, good drinks and carefree revelry. With keys in hand, the crew started to madly prepare for what would be a quick refit – drawing up plans for newly open live-music and booze hotspot Suzie Wong’s Good Time Bar. The inspiration behind Suzie Wong’s comes chiefly from America, namely its dive-bar culture and the lived-in nature of many of its longstanding boozers. Where Brooklyn Standard is reminiscent of underground New York jazz bars, Suzie Wong’s draws inspo from Hawaii. We’re not talking about its tiki bars, but rather its bait shops, fishing shacks and surf spots – not a lei in sight. Like Brooklyn Standard, Suzie Wong’s aims to offer a bit of escapism from the outside world. As for Suzie herself, Adam is tightlipped as to her story – she is whoever you want her to be, but maybe if you keep coming back you’ll be more likely to know her.
Longtime fans of The Bowery will find Suzie Wong’s is now largely unrecognisable aside from the general footprint. The bar’s entry has been replaced by a giant metal fridge door, which opens to reveal the cool vibes beyond. Upon entry – on your immediate right – you’ll see the stage. A whole new backline has been sourced, and speakers have been added at regular intervals along the length of the venue to ensure patrons catch every guitar lick, snare snap and yell. Almost every available inch of wall space is covered with vintage paraphernalia – everything from surfboards and old-school American adverts to neon booze signs and even a giant swordfish. The bar gleams with back-lit bottles, and beyond sits a small chill-out zone equipped with leather banquettes, retro wallpaper and lights that shift in hue. If you really want to escape the action, a deck out the back will give you a chance to get some fresh air while you sit on benches fashioned into the shape of surfboards.
Any bar worth a damn needs a good booze list, and if the gleaming neon ‘Life is too short to drink responsibly‘ sign above the stage is any indication, Suzie Wong’s takes its drink seriously. Let’s start with beer – the bar is equipped with a handful of taps pouring Suzie Wong’s own house lager, a few American brews, Australian craft and brew from Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Co. The can and stubby list features more Kona varieties, American staples such as Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller, as well as Aussie stalwarts Balter, Green Beacon and Young Henrys. Vino seekers can choose from a curated selection of drops (15 total across red, white, sparkling and rose) available by the glass or bottle. It’s the cocktail list, though, where many will inevitably turn. Suzie Wong’s boasts a bevy of intriguing signatures, from Suzie’s Death (three kinds of rum, apricot, falernum, apple, pink grapefruit, pastis and fire) and Bitch Diesel (gin, peach, lillet rose, lemon, mint), to the Fizzy Bubbly Boi (Jameson, mixed berry cordial, hazelnut, lemon and prosecco) and the Unsolicited Life Advice (Herradura Plata tequila, lime, watermelon, jalapeno, capano bianco).
At Suzie Wong’s, music is as important as the booze. Five nights a week, you’ll find a band on stage getting the party started. Much like Brooklyn Standard, the stage at Suzie Wong’s will host bands performing a wide spread of musical genres (think rock’n’roll, blues, funk and more). Some familiar faces from Brooklyn Standard’s rotation will appear, though Suzie Wong’s is also looking for some undiscovered gems who are committed to filling a dance floor.
Suzie Wong’s Good Time Bar is now open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 5:00 pm until late. Head to the Stumble Guide for more details.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.