I wish I could say that I wasn’t on first-name terms with the bartenders in every one of these Brisbane bars, or that they have all cut me off at some point. But I am, and they have.
All of our copious quaffing has turned the Brisbane bar scene into a rollicking wonderland. We’ve singled out a mere sample of 25 of the best Brisbane bars that feature high on the rotation for casual, formal or after-work drinks. You really should have been to all of these Brisbane bars. Twice. And if you haven’t it might be time to ask the question: what are you doing with your life?
1. The Bearded Lady
For live music and up-and-coming acts you can't pass up a night at The Bearded Lady. The scattered decor makes for a homey vibe so the whole joint feels like a licensed house party, and just like a house party feel free to get snacks from Chop Chop Chang's across the road and bring them in.
2. Brooklyn Standard
Featuring live music every night, Brooklyn Standard's funky rhythm section goes down a goddamn treat with some of their all-American snacks and scintillating sips.
3. Gerard’s Bar
The little brother of the incomparable Gerard’s Bistro, Gerard’s Bar provides us a tasty shard of the former’s brilliance in the form of Aperol spritzers and some of Australia’s best burgers. One of the best bars in Brisbane, no doubt.
4. La Lune Wine Co.
Bringing more than 120 wines from across Australia, Europe, and New Zealand to the same cellar, La Lune Wine Co. is a plonk paradise. The menu includes charcuterie and cheese, as well as six dishes specifically designed each week for pairing.
5. Savile Row
Freshly landed on the drinking scene, Savile Row might just be the first bar to be better dressed than you. Taking a Brummelly cue from the street of sartorial splendour, this bar is a dimly-lit fantasy of leather booths, mahogany bartops and really, really spectacular cocktails.
Found discreetly up a flight of stairs next to a titty bar, Greenglass is a showcase of Australian winemaking. Their labels are all handpicked and go perfectly with their French-style menu.
7. Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall
The titillating taxidermy isn’t the only enticement at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall. Upstairs they’ve got mermaids and hooch, downstairs live music and whiskey. Soak it up with some of Lefty’s feasties and you’ll agree that it’s one of Brisbane’s best bars.
Shaking up a drinkable feast are the masterhands behind the bar at Canvas. You’ll paint yourself blind at this Brisbane bar and turn your pockets out getting high off their woozy elixirs and mixers.
9. Jack Rabbits Whiskey Lounge
This coy little lapin knows how to keep a secret. Head upstairs from Electric Avenue and climb inside the wardobe at the top of the stairs. Step through to find this bar within a bar, pouring whisky and playing jazz until the wee hours.
Finely crafted glasses of euphoria don't get much better than at Maker. Every drop of one of their mindboggling concoctions is a goddamn delight, and their recent foray into toasties and charcuterie has been nothing but a godsend for late-night drinkers.
11. Fitz + Potts
When they're trying to start a cult following, new neighbourhood bars take a leaf out of Fitz + Potts' book. With plenty of drinks, share plates, and such a chilled atmosphere that it actually feels like being on someone's back deck it's easy to see how Fitz + Potts earned their rep.
12. Junk Bar
Ashgrove’s Junk Bar is one of our favourite suburban Brisbane bars and not just because their drinks are brewed by the prophets of sensationalism. This joint is flypaper for cool cats, keen to rub their hip off on ye.
BYO food and leave the whiskey to Cobbler. With over 300 different whiskies from around the planet and a veritable font of knowledge spouting from the tenders on each, Cobbler is the only bar in Brisbane to get your fill of firewater.
Sick beats, cold drinks, and tinnie roulette makes this Valley bar a good times epicentre. The vibes are mellow and be assured their tagline speaks the truth: Barbara will take care of you.
15. The Gresham Bar
Carved out of the heritage sandstone on Queen St, the Gresham Bar has taken over the Brisbane bar scene with an array of seriously impressive cocktails, whisky and wingback chairs.
16. John Mills Himself
Another cheeky day-to-night, John Mills Himself is a wee nook of laneway love providing us with caffeine hits in the morning and liquor love in the evening.
17. Ric’s Bar
If you’ve lived in Brisbane for more than a year and you haven’t been to Ric’s, you are either abstinent or really rich. The OG of dingy dives, the temple of sick beat worship, the stalwart survivor of Brisbane’s best bars, is Ric.
18. Black Bear Lodge
With dead cool live music acts and all kinds of delectable drinkthings brewing up the stairs, Black Bear Lodge is Brisbane’s best argument against basement bars.
19. The Bowery
Smokyy jazz and cocktails that sing, The Bowery is that dark and mysterious stranger you can’t help but follow. For a smooth and scintillating step back in time, this speakeasy is a jewel of a Brisbane bar.
20. The End
A fitting final entry for this list, The End is ironically the best place to start. Their tenders manage an extensive list of lovelies to suit your mood, and the sick beats are mostly there to keep up with the sick vibe.
21. Bloodhound Corner Bar
Rotating taps, tacos, and a badass mural on exposed brick; these are the ingredients that make Bloodhound Corner Bar the gold-hearted larrikin of Brunswick Street. Their craft beers are all carefully chosen, but you'll find no snobbery or stuffiness here, just a whole lot of good times and a whole lot of suds.
22. Felix Wine & Espresso Bar
Tucked away in uber cool Burnett Lane, this little bar exudes laid-back sophistication with timber furnishings and Brooklyn-cool exposed brick. Night-time nibbles at Felix are accompanied by a huge selection of beer, cider and local wine and, unlike other inner-city bars, it won’t break the bank.
23. The Lobby Bar
As the official tipple station of the Calile Hotel, the Lobby Bar is the hub of the hub of James Street. Done up in brass and muted pinks, the Lobby Bar is a continuation of the soft lines and arches of the hotel and the perfect place to unwind with your usual.
24. Cloakroom Bar
If you’re after a new signature drink, Cloakroom Bar is the only place to go. A sister scheme of local Brisbane tailors, the Cloakroom Bar is a dark and brooding secret clubhouse where cocktails are custom made with unparalleled skill.
As Honto’s resident bar, ÔÔ is an all black cocktail lounge designed to kickstart your evening with a glass of something spectacular, lovingly crafted by one of their master mixologists. Come by before dinner, after dinner, or for a nightcap to round out your night.
Want more of the best bars in Brisbane? Search 'bars' in our Directory!
Image credit: Daniel Maddock