Pavement Whispers: the Frog’s Hollow team has taken over the Alliance Hotel, with plans to give the pub a new lease on life
The booze-savvy crew behind one of The City’s best bars has taken over the helm of a Spring Hill icon. The Alliance Hotel is now under custodianship of the Frog’s Hollow Saloon team, and they’ve got plans to make the heritage beauty the first place you think of when someone mentions ‘the pub’.
The Frog’s Hollow Saloon team has taken over a pub. That sentence alone is probably enough to pique the interest of Brisbane’s pint-quaffing populace. The Charlotte Street honky tonk is regarded by many and one of The City’s finest booze parlours, so the news will be a pretty big deal to some. It’s true, though. The team has been behind the wheel at The Alliance Hotel – the fetching three-level Victorian-style building on Boundary Street in Spring Hill – for a couple of months now, and its impact is already starting to show.
After being approached by the owners of the Alliance’s freehold with the offer of taking over the venue’s operations, the Frog’s crew jumped at the chance to be in charge of one of Brisbane’s few independently owned pubs. With keys in hand, the crew turned its thoughts toward reestablishing The Alliance as a go-to, with Melbourne’s neighbourhood pub scene a key source of inspiration.
“Melbourne’s got so many great pubs and that informed a bit of the vision – the classic suburban Melbourne pub,” says co-owner Peter Hollands, who also operates Alice on Elizabeth Street. “It’s not only a good opportunity, because it’s a beautiful pub, but it’s also about having the chance to surprise people and make big wholesale changes to [The Alliance] without it losing its character.”
The group is currently in the midst of a multi-phase rejuvenation process involving a small facelift of the front bar and dining area to highlight the venue’s existing heritage elements, as well as undertaking a refurb of the venue’s two downstairs function spaces. Operationally, the team has already implemented a raft of changes centred around instilling a sense of reliability. For one, The Alliance Hotel now opens from 12:00–10:00 pm Tuesday to Sunday, with the kitchen open until 9:30 pm. The bistro has also switched from table service to bar service, and the team will also be putting in new bar tops so folks can enjoy a meal at the bar if they wish.
Speaking of pub feeds, the menu has been overhauled. “We just wanted to do awesome classic pub food, but just make it big and beautiful,” says Pete. “We’re making sure that the food that’s going out has got a little quirk to it. Having access to the kitchen means we can elevate the little things that we love just a little bit more.”
The offering starts with small plates like white anchovies on brioche toast, Scotch eggs, fried pickles and steak tartare. A selection of mains hits all the must-have pub-food beats – schnitties, steaks, wagyu burgers, and fish and chips – but you’ll also spy Cumberland pork rope sausages with mash and house-made gravy, a butcher’s sandwich packed with pastrami, roast beef, Swiss cheese, onion jam and dijon, and mussels with white wine, garlic and parsley.
Another priority has been punching up the bar offering and recruiting some top bar talent to dispense it. Once at the helm, the Frog’s crew immediately stocked the back bar with 50 whiskies (20 of which are American), 20 gins and about 30 rums. From there, they swapped the fridge beer stock to an entirely craft range, and of the bar’s ten taps, five are now dedicated to pouring an ever-changing selection of craft suds – think two kegs of each before they change over.
The cocktail list is concise, running only six drinks deep. That said, they’re all winners, each riffing on a familiar classic. Highlights include The Pub Old Fashioned (Makers Mark, house spice mix and dark sugar syrup), the When In Doubt (Patron Silver Tequila, aloe vera, agave and lime), and the Clear As Melon (Bombay Sapphire gin, Midori and peach brandy).
As for the wine, co-owner and current venue manager Katerina Makarov is spearheading an overhaul of the list. “We want to keep it simple and approachable,” says Pete. “The wine is going to be driven by the food, so that’s something we will grow slowly into a more high-end, classic- style wine list, while the beers will be more craft focused. This gives us an opportunity to just be a good classic pub with a nice spin, that leans towards good brands.”
Private events will continue to be a massive aspect of The Alliance’s business model, with co-owner Emma Hollands assuming the role of The Alliance’s functions manager.
As the Frog’s Hollow team continues to settle in at The Alliance, the crew hope to establish the venue as the first port-of-call for punters seeking personable service and a curated offering on both sides of the menu. When prompted about his vision for The Alliance’s perception going forward, he recalls a branding idea the crew tossed around in the early stages. “We call it The Pub – capital T, capital P,” says Pete. “When someone says ‘I’m going to The Pub’, you know that they’re talking about here.”
The Alliance Hotel is now open to the public Tuesday to Sunday from 12:00–10:00 pm – head to the Stumble Guide for menu details and other info.
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