The round-up: classic cocktails reimagined – where to get Brisbane’s best
Look, when we say variety is the spice of life we really mean it. While there is no harm is sticking with a good thing, sometimes it’s nice to spice things up from time to time. Before you call us out for being suss, let us clarify – we’re talking about cocktails here. We’ve all got our personal favourite when it comes to crafted concoctions, but how do you know if you’ve experienced the best that’s available if you haven’t looked beyond the borders of your local? We’ve scouted Brisbane for some of the most enticing variations on some classics, as well as a few share cocktails to try next time you crave a sophisticated sip.
Coppa Spuntino: Any serious fan of the negroni should make Coppa Spuntino their first port of call. The cocktail menu features several kinds of negroni charting the history of the drink and proving just how versatile the cocktail is. Browse the list and pick from variations incorporating gin, bourbon, rye whisky or mezcal.
Pillar Bar: Fortitude Valley’s Pillar Bar is heaven for cocktail lovers. Don’t believe us? Head to the bar and order a barrel aged negroni, which features Tanqueray, Vermouth and Campari rested in American oak with an Oloroso finish. Try and tell us that your tastebuds don’t absolutely love it.
Gerard’s Bar: If you can pull yourself away from the charcuterie selection on offer here, you’ll notice that this place is indeed a bar – and a great one at that! The Choke & Smoked negroni features rum, cynar, East India solera, hickory smoke and smoked sea salt. Phwoar – this one will certainly pair well with your choice of cured meat.
The End: Popular end of week retreat The End is West End’s home of intimate atmosphere and cocktails. The wizards behind the bar make a mean smoked barrel-aged mezcal negroni, which pairs the natural smokiness of the tequila variety with the traditional flavours of the negroni mixture.
Vaquero: Sometimes consistency is key to an enjoyable negroni. If you don’t like your negroni tampered with, Vaquero in Albion offers a batch-made variation that hits the mark every time.
Sixteen Antlers: Not only can you take in a stellar view of Brisbane City and its surrounds, visitors to Sixteen Antlers can also sip on a delightful spin on the espresso martini. The CCC Martini mixes Absolut, Kahlua, Crème de Cacao, espresso, chocolate and even a hit of chilli to liven things up.
The Laneway: One of the best ways to get a bit of a pep going on your night out is by ordering the ever-reliable espresso martini. Laneway’s Popcorn Espresso is a great twist on the classic, mixing Tromba Blanco, Meukow Expresso, espresso coffee and Monin popcorn.
Malt Dining: This swanky inner-city speakeasy is perpetually ready to spice up your life with its take on the espresso martini. Boasting Kraken spiced rum, Kahlua coffee liqueur, cinnamon sugar syrup and a fresh espresso shot, you’ll be feeling ready for the night after a few sips.
John Mills Himself: Coffee spot by day, cocktail spot by night – it makes sense that John Mills Himself would know how to make a fantastic espresso martini. The bartenders at John Mills Himself can craft a tasty espresso martini using 666 vodka, fresh espresso and cold-drip liqueur from Mr. Black.
Black Bear Lodge: This ultra-cool speakeasy has some extremely talented wizards behind the bar. Don’t believe us? Ask for the espresso martini, which mixes vodka, white cacao and creme de cafe with locally sourced coffee from Black Sheep Roastery. Sip and see if you can pick the hints of blueberry, roasted nuts and dark chocolate.
The Apo: Situated inside a former apothecary, The Apo is well suited to making magical and potent elixirs. The elderflower spritz on offer here boasts a tasty combo of elderflower, white wine, cucumber mint and soda – just what we need on these balmy summer nights.
Blackbird Bar & Restaurant: This Brisbane City haunt has a creative list of cocktails that are sure to get your night going, but if you are after something refreshing then the melon and pear spritz is your ideal choice. This light cocktail mixes tequila, pear liqueur, honeydew melon, mint and house-made honey water that is then charged with soda.
Elixir Rooftop Bar: Elixir Rooftop Bar is more than just a pretty view – its cocktail selection is well worth investigating. For something with bubbles, you can’t go wrong with Elixir’s South East Spritzer. Gin is mixed with elderflower liqueur, lime juice and falernum syrup, then shaken with kaffir lime leaf and combined with Chandon sparkling – delightful!
Maker: Fish Lane’s Maker prides itself on being on the cutting edge of cocktail experimentation. If you manage to score yourself a seat at the bar, have one of the bartenders whip up a watermelon spritz, which blends okar, Hartshorn Distillery sheep whey vanilla liqueur, watermelon juice and sparkling wine. This drink is also available in a group size in a half watermelon. Yes please.
Kettle & Tin: Paddington’s home of killer coffee and bountiful breakfasts also moonlights as a bar by night. The cocktail list is plentiful with tasty mixtures, but for a refreshing tipple we suggest the Applewood Spritz, which features a fusion of Applewood okar liqueur, prosecco and soda.
Mucho Mexicano: With a name like Mucho Mexicano, you just know that the margaritas here are going to be the bomb. In addition to the classic recipe, Mucho Mexicano also serves frozen margaritas and five other varieties to try. Mango and blood orange, raspberry and pomegranate, strawberry and apple – the choice is yours!
Alquimia: What good would a tequila bar be if they couldn’t mix a mean margarita? Thankfully there is no need to worry at Alquimia. The bar makes plenty of twists to taste, but it’s the Regina margarita that comes highly recommended. This concoction boasts blanco tequila, mezcal, lime juice, agave syrup, ginger, cold-pressed apple juice, rosemary, and egg white and is finished with a smoked salt rim.
Canvas: Blending a little bit of Prince-inspired sexiness with the traditional margarita, Canvas’ The Artist Formerly Known As gives the classic a fruity twist with a hint of bitterness. This drink mixes Espolon tequila and Campari with sweet grapefruit and rosemary.
The Bowery: With a name synonymous with high-quality cocktails, The Bowery excels in creative ad-libbing when it comes to mixing. Mikey’s Margarita has been crafted by The Bowery’s own Michael Pattison and mixes tequila with averna, lime agave and Fire and Damnation bitters.
California Native: Picturesque beaches, impeccable weather, and great food and drink – these are three things California has in spades. California Native emulates the laid-back Golden State vibe impeccably with its food and decor, but it’s the margaritas that really transport us to California. The Coronado Sunset margarita mixes tequila, blood orange liqueur, passionfruit, fresh lime and a sea salt rim.
Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess: Sharing is caring, so we suggest heading to Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess with few friends and splitting the venue’s iconic Hendricks Bathtub. This giant cocktail is filled to the brim with gin, maraschino, lemon, apple, orgeat, cucumber and mint and is a sight to behold!
Soleil Pool Bar: South Bank’s Soleil Pool Bar can cater to groups with its share cocktail selection, with My Compliments to the Butler being a standout choice. Belvedere vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueur, Harney & Sons chamomile tea syrup, lime juice, cloudy apple juice and freshly cut fruit are mixed into one zesty blend.
The Fox Hotel: Dandy’s Rooftop at The Fox is a great spot to party with your friends thanks in part to the stunning views and the impressive drinks list. The Lychee Dreams is a cocktail jug that is made for sharing and mixes a heady combination of vodka, lychee liquer, creme de peche, lemon juice and sugar syrup with sliced strawberries, blueberries and piked mint, which is topped with pineapple and cloudy apple juice and lemonade.
Darling & Co: The Pimms Cup is a summer cocktail staple, but Darling & Co. has put its own spin on the classic cocktail jug with its Paddington Pimms. Gin, strawberries, orange, cucumber, mint and dry ginger makes for the perfect beverage to split with a group on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Mr & Mrs G Riverbar: When you have guests over for morning tea you drink, well, tea. Mr and Mrs G on Eagle Street has taken the tradition one step further with its Not Just Tea cocktail. Bacardi white meets lemon myrtle, peach liqueur, lemon and English Breakfast tea syrup. All you need is some scones and you’re all set.
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