The year in review: raise a glass for the Gold Coast's best bar openings of 2023

The year in review: raise a glass for the Gold Coast’s best bar openings of 2023

The Gold Coast’s bar scene welcomed a diverse crop of newcomers this year, from multi-million-dollar distilleries to booze-free breweries. Let’s raise a glass to the Class of 2023, offering up our picks for the year’s best new wine bars, boozers and cocktail spots.

Six-Tricks Distilling Co., Mermaid Beach: Hidden down an unassuming Mermaid Beach cul-de-sac and overlooking the Broadbeach skyline, the incredible $2-million venue is impressive, to say the least. Six-Tricks is the realisation of a long-held dream for founders and Gold Coast locals Chris Macklin and Teagan Peake, who have poured their blood, sweat and tears into creating the full-service rum and whisky distillery, tasting room and cocktail bar that opened its doors in November, just in time for peak sipping season. Once you’ve had a tour of the production facility, it’s time to further your spirit education in the state-of-the-art tasting room, which features a spacious indoor bar, sunset deck and private cask room. This is definitely one for your holiday hit-list!
 Happy Endings, Broadbeach: If you love a late-night bite with your beer (or cocktail), you’re going to love Happy Endings in Broadbeach. The venue’s name is a cheeky nod to the rather infamous massage parlour that formerly resided within the space and is the latest offering from Bella and Euan Lovell (Fig & Frankie’s). While their first-born is light and bright, Happy Endings is quite the opposite – moody, dark and intimate. If you’re keen to check it out, head towards Fig & Frankie’s and up the staircase that’s signed Flesh Impressions piercing parlour. Follow the projection up the staircase and you’ll discover Happy Endings.

E.L.E, Burleigh Heads: If you ask us, there’s been a pretty noticeable lack of LGBTIQA+ focused venues on the Gold Coast. Everybody Love Everybody, or E.L.E for short, is here to change that. As its name suggests, the bar, which opened in October, is envisioned as a safe space for everybody in the community to enjoy a drink and a bite without judgement. The striking venue has completely opened up the side wall, filling Big B Arcade with tunes and pops of neon lights. Inside, a shiny disco ball suspended from the concrete ceiling creates an unmistakable party vibe.
Currumbin Valley Brewing, Currumbin: The Currumbin Valley Brewing story has plenty of twists and turns since its inception in 2015. Earlier this year, the beer-loving pals Peter ‘Smokey’ Wheldon and Luke Ronalds ticked off a pretty massive milestone – the pair opened the doors to a new taproom on Traders Way. Stepping inside the venue, you get the sense that this is so much more than a place to drink, it’s a place for the community to come together, have a yarn and a beer. As Peter says, it’s a bit rustic and rough-around-the-edges, with the majority repurposed and recycled, from the large cable reels that are being used as tables to the timber that has come from a tree that was cut down at the local school. Behind the bar you’ll find 16 taps, mostly dedicated to Currumbin Valley Brewing’s own curious creations including the Cheery Ripe Porter and their stellar selection of sours. Currumbin Valley Brewing’s range reads like something from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with the gents continually pushing boundaries to create new and innovative flavours.

Kirra Beach Hotel, Kirra: It has been the go-to spot for post-surf feeds and frosty beers since opening in 1957, and now, after a three-year hiatus, the much-loved pub has turned the page on an incredible new chapter. The new 1300-sqm Kirra Beach Hotel features soaring five-metre ceilings, a sun-soaked beer garden alongside a family-friendly bistro, kids area, public bar, sports bar and boutique bottle shop. Paying homage to the suburb’s surf culture with memorabilia adorning the walls and signed boards taking pride of place above the main bar. There’s also a few familiar faces with longtime publican and licensee Greg ‘Hodgy’ Hodge at the helm once more. Despite the obvious aesthetic upgrades, Hodgy says it still has that nostalgic, old-school pub charm to it.
Sobah Brewery & Cafe, Burleigh Heads: While a brewery that doesn’t serve alcohol may raise a few eyebrows, Sobah Brewery & Cafe is bringing a fresh new perspective to the Gold Coast’s sipping scene. Since 2017, the Gold Coast-born craft-beer brand has been firmly focused on changing the culture around drinking with its bush tucker-infused beers. This year, the proudly Aboriginal owned and led company embark upon its most ambitious venture yet, a 650-sqm brewing facility and cafe on Kombumerri Country. The venue has been a two year labour of love from owners Clinton Schultz and Lozen McDiarmid-Schultz, who are passionate about bringing a new kind of culinary experience to the Gold Coast underpinned by native ingredients fusing cuisine and culture. It goes without saying that Sobah features heavily on the drinks list, but if beer isn’t your bev of choice, you can sip a glass of Altina non-alc wine or a refreshing mix from Clovendoe Distillery. There’s also a selection of juices and coffee by Aromas Coffee Roasters, which is Indigenous-owned. If you’re taking a hiatus from hangovers or you’re just in the mood to try something new, Sobah Brewery & Cafe is definitely one to add to your brunch-club group chat.
Bar Leo, Sorrento: There’s something about a neighbourhood noshery and bar that just hits different. Close to home, you can stroll in for a bite and a couple of glasses of wine without the hassle of transport. If you live in or around Sorrento, it’s highly likely you’re already well acquainted with Bar Leo. For those a little late to the party, the eye-catching eatery delivers moreish Mediterranean morsels and worldly wines to the newly redeveloped complex on Panitz Street. The snacks and small plates offering include dishes such as handmade chorizo, octopus with potato and pickled chilli, local calamari, roast chicken with ‘nduja, and a 1-kg Black Angus rib. Did we mention the extensive selection of wine? There’s a lot to love about Bar Leo, pull up a seat and see for yourself.
Bruce, Currumbin: A hint of salt in the air makes dining (and drinking) infinitely more enjoyable, that’s just a fact. If you concur, get acquainted with Bruce. The venue, just a hop, skip and sandy-footed dash from the beach, is the handiwork of Elizabeth Ennis (Barefoot Currumbin and Barefoot Palm Beach) and described as Barefoot Barista’s wild younger brother. Bruce isn’t just a bar or a place to eat; it’s a state of mind. A perpetual invitation to embrace that ‘holiday mode mentality’ when you’ve got nowhere to be other than right where you are, with a beer (or margarita) in one hand and some snacks in the other. Sounds pretty great to us.
Haven Bar & Restaurant, Burleigh Heads: In September, the Black Hops crew unveiled a brand-new concept for the former AWOL site. As much as they loved the original iteration, restrictions on the venue’s licence meant they couldn’t serve food and could only sell barrel-aged beer, which you can imagine is limiting. Haven is an entirely new offering, with a full kitchen menu and drinks that extend well beyond barrel-aged beers. Under its newly acquired Artisan Producer’s licence, Haven Bar & Restaurant now offers sippers an extensive wine list, which ranges from fizzy and funky drops through to robust reds. As you would expect, the entire range of Black Hops beers fill the taps, including one that remains dedicated to their experimental barrel-aged brews alongside a tasty cocktail list featuring local distillers including Wolf Lane, Mt Uncle, Wildflower gin and Old Dog Rosso vermouth.
 Marilyn’s, Broadbeach: Look, we’ll admit that we weren’t around to experience Las Vegas in the 70s, but if we were, we reckon it would look a little something like Marilyn’s in Broadbeach. Nestled at the base of the Phoenician Resort, the sip spot dishes up a serious dose of vintage glamour, top-notch tipples and Spanish tapas. Based loosely on Hunter S. Thompson’s LSD-fuelled escapades chronicled in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Marilyn’s is designed to transport you back in time to the hedonistic heyday of Vegas with pink and mint-hued walls, a golden arched bar and plush velvet bar stools.  As Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Good people drink good beer,” or, in Marilyn’s case, cocktails.
Hound & Stag Brewing Co, Arundel: In our humble opinion, beer tastes better when you can sip it from the source. If you find yourself on the northern end with a hankering for a brew, check out Arundel’s enormous $3.5-million taphouse called Hound & Stag Brewing Co. Although it technically opened just prior to Christmas last year, this one is worth bending the rules for. The venue has become a much-loved fixture on the sipping scene, hosting some incredible live music acts.
Tropic Vice, Nobby Beach: Over the years, the rooftop space home to Tropic Vice has certainly seen its fair share of changes. From the hessian-draped Split to the very early days of Tropic Vice, it’s been quite the metamorphosis. 2023 saw the most impressive incarnation yet – a complete floor-to-ceiling renovation that has added a roof, a striking rendered back-lit bar and cushioned booths, elevating the look and feel to become the venue owner Jimmy Tantsis-Hall always envisioned. Champagne and oysters, anyone?
Tank Bar & Dining, Palm Beach: Most hospitality venues are subject to ebbs and flows of patronage, but Bine Bar & Dining in Nobby Beach seems to be the unicorn exception. The eternally popular watering hole is as busy today as the day it opened. If you’re partial to a pint and reside in or around Palm Beach, it’s likely you too were excited to see the popular bar replicated in Tank Bar & Dining. You’ll find the same menu filled with classic pub grub and a selection of ten rotating beer taps featuring Precinct Brewing Co, Better Beer, Balter and Currumbin Valley Brewing, to name a few. Hot tip, venture down the internal corridor pull up a seat in the breezy light-filled upstairs bar with views to the ocean.
Carafe Wine, Southport: This year Gold Coasters were urged to rethink the way we drink and ditch the bottle (literally), but not in the way you think. Archie Cox is on a mission to prove that great wine can come in all formats including on tap and from a carafe. This year saw the opening of Carafe Wine’s headquarters in Southport. The facility, which walks the line between function space and educational sip spot, offers a wide range of events including wine classes and tastings.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! If you’re on the hunt for some more sip spots, check out Yot Deck, which is here for a good time not a long one, Southport Pavilion, Zephyr Tapas & Bar, which has recently unveiled a brand-new look, and The Ranchero at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse. Still want more? Pop over to our round-up of 2023’s best cafes and best restaurants

The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Gold Coast dining guide with more than 870 places to eat, drink, shop and play.


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