(A note on fire safety: Obviously, if you’re going to have anything to do with fire don’t be a dingbat. The Urban List takes no responsibility for the fate of your eyebrows if you lean too far over the hearth).
Nothing is so pivotal to human evolution than the discovery of fire. Previously a fearsome weapon of nature, our ability to harness fire’s blistering power ultimately paved the way for us to become the dominant species. Learning to control the blaze is probably our proudest achievement as we smelted, forged and smoked our way to the top of the food chain.
On top of its practical applications fire also acts as a social glue. This is not only because its vitality to keeping warm and cooking food encouraged congregation, but because of the almost hypnotic appeal of staring at flames. All told I’d say humankind has spent a solid millennium just standing around staring at fire trying to figure out what exactly it is.
We may have developed beyond the Neanderthalic behaviour of our earliest ancestors, but some things never change and this love of an open fire is one of them. Brisbane gets it and that is why, despite our mild winters, these places light a grate.
Here are five Brisbane bars with an open fireplace.
At Sixes And Sevens
When coldest winter hits, hunker down at Sixes and Sevens. They’ve got all you need to wait out the snap with wine, cocktail jugs and plenty of share plates but the real beauty is their fireplace. What kind of metropolitan campsite would be complete without one? We recommend enjoying it with a carafe of wine, a pack of strangers and a zesty remix of kumbaya.
The Chalet Bar
In the basement of the Alliance Hotel, the Chalet Bar brings us the best part of a winter holiday without the extortionate boot hire: après-ski. For any Alpine novices, après-ski is the aftermath of a day on the slopes where skiers get social and paint the town. Sure they probably appreciate it more than we do having spent the day hauling around an icy mountain but that shouldn’t detract from the cosy comfort of the Chalet Bar. Kitted out like a ski lodge with chesterfields, candlelight, and an open fireplace, Chalet is an ideal place to rug up.
Alfred & Constance
In these tough and blustery times we can always rely on everyone’s favourite party house to shield you from the cold. The warren of bars that comprise Alfed & Constance each holds a special place in our hearts, but when the mercury drops the Tunes Bar is the only place to be. Decked out like the poolroom of a 70s muso, the vintage speakers, taxidermy and mismatched furniture create a warm vibe on cold nights, especially with the help of the working fireplace beneath the stag.
Eating ice cream in the grip depths of winter is a bold notion more often attempted by Nordic folks than anyone raised on a subtropical floodplain, but dessert bar Cowch makes it so, so much easier with the addition of a fireplace. This isn’t an ordinary scorch nook either, Cowch’s fireplace is an hyper modern centrepiece rather than an out-of-the-way feature, inviting bulk hordes to gather round with their decadent confections and stave off the inevitable shivers.
If you’re looking for some antiquated charm, this heritage-listed bar is the best place to find it. The Gresham is practically a licensed time capsule and there’s no cooler place to warm up in the wintertime than in the room just off from the main bar. Cosy up in the dim lamplight on one of their wing-backed chairs, or sprawl out on the posh lounges and admire the brickwork on the Gresham’s fireplace, above which hangs a portrait of the man Gresham himself.
Annnd, if you'd prefer to keep yourself warm of a morning...
Hostess of joys, Scout Café is undeniably homey and comforting even in the height of summer, but come winter it’s a haven. When the freeze gets real, and the Brisbane architecture fails to retain any substantial warmth, Scout turns up their fireplace and gets a nice ember happening. Add a breakfast bagel, a few cups of java and some toasted marshmallows because why the bloody hell not.
If you're more of a morning person (and like to eat BULK food—who doesn't?) seek out Brisbane's best new cafes.
Image credit: Daniel Maddock