Going out for drinks with friends when you're in your mid-twenties can sometimes get a bit monotonous. Heading to the same couple of bars week in, week out, where the pokies are louder than the DJ's Spotify playlist, the bartenders never know what an old fashioned is, and the carpet is always sticky (from what, we're not exactly sure). Yet your friends continue to drag you here each weekend because… Actually, you have no idea why they keep dragging you here.
If this scenario is all too familiar, put your foot down and introduce them to the wonderful world of the West End bar scene.
As far as locations to wet your whistle go, West End is on the up-and-up. Whether you're looking for craft beer, whiskey bars, tiki bars, cocktails, live music or superb bar food, West End has your bases covered. The options are (almost) endless, and because it can be hard to satisfy the needs of all individuals when you're out with a group, we recommend you try all of them.
Strap on your metaphorical seatbelt (don't drink and drive, y'all!) as we take you through the best bars in West End.
Jack it up a notch and head to brand new whiskey bar, Cobbler. It's decked out with vintage sports memorabilia, and one of those rad sliding ladders on a bookshelf like you would find in Bruce Wayne's library. Cobbler is BYO food, so order from a nearby restaurant or rock up with a wheel of brie and some Clix. The bartenders' knowledge of their product is astounding, so be sure to try one of their amazing cocktails, but beware, they're not for the faint hearted!
The Fourth Monkey
We’re not sure what happened to the first, second, and third monkey—there’s definitely a joke in there somewhere—but we sure do love The Fourth Monkey. Ths Caribbean-style tiki bar and grill took over where the Three Monkeys cafe left off and specialises in cocktails and fun. Make your way through dimly lit rooms decked out with Persian rugs and leather sofas to get to a fairy-light clad backyard garden, the perfect place to sip a pirate-themed cocktail. And, if you’re feeling peckish, try out the “Smugglers Feast Challenge”—down $70 worth of meat, bread and other mouthwatering delicacies within 25 minutes, and you’ll get the whole shebang for free.
Think cottagecore vibes, but with more wine and seafood, and you’ve got Bar Francine. West End’s friendly neighbourhood bistro boasts an all-Australian drinks list—from chardonnay, to shiraz, to just a classic tinny of XXXX Gold, if it comes from the land down under, it’ll be on offer. The cosy green-tile-laden venue has a pescetarian food menu that changes daily, but you can expect dishes like monkfish and mussels with almond ratatouille, BBQ beetroot steak with bearnaise sauce, and golden syrup dumplings with goat’s cheese gelato. Sounds weird, but believe us, it works.
The creators of the late Super Whatnot—may it rest in peace—have a simple message about its brand new successor, Flying Colours: “It’s nice here too.” They’re not wrong. A leafy courtyard, a warehouse dining room, a listening lounge with DJs on standby and a whole lot of alcohol sets this bar up to be a local favourite. The courtyard is laden with umbrellas, plants, and an unwavering belief that Brisbane weather will be kind, while the cosy warehouse dining area includes a disco ball daring you to boogie. They pass the vibe check with flying colours—pun intended.
Mosey up Boundary Street to Lychee Lounge, an exotic bar, well known for its impressive cocktail offerings. They draw from fresh produce and exotic spirits, which combine to make some truly unique flavours. Lychee Lounge is great for larger groups of people with a wide range of tapas plates, perfect for sharing (or not!).
Though they're better known for their incredible Sicilian fare, Pilloni also has a dedicated bar area at their entrance, and you don't have to have a dinner booking to make the most of it. Enjoy an Italian wine or a cracking cocktail in their semi-al fresco seating area, or right up at the bar with the master bartenders.
Archive Beer Boutique
Since opening in 2011, Archive Beer Boutique has cemented its spot as one of the best craft beer bars in Brisbane. There are eighteen beer taps, which constantly rotate throughout the month, and over 400 different bottled beers to choose from. Pity you only have two hands... They've also got some top-notch pub grub, with the likes of wagyu beef burgers, chicken parmas, eye fillets, and pizzas to name a few. The venue itself is super rad with vintage furniture, newspaper-ed walls, pool tables and dartboards: A great place to start the night and line the stomach.
Cordeaux Social Club
Always wanted to be part of a secret club? Well, it’s not exactly a secret, but Cordeaux Social Club is the place to be—and you’re invited. Sip on a wine from their carefully curated list, or order up a classic cocktail for some more fun. The venue gives off a relaxed European wine bar vibe, and serves up some delicious meals too. Beef tartare with white anchovy? Count us in.
Let's get tropical—tiki bar Jungle sports some snazzy tiki-themed furniture and styling throughout. You can treat yourself to some exotic cocktails served in monkey-shaped mugs (because tumblers are so 2012). If you want the real Jungle experience, make sure you order one of their flaming rum cocktails and steal a little paper umbrella to put behind your ear.
Catchment Brewing Co.
Catchment Brewing Co. is the perfect place to catch up over Friday afternoon drinks. With an art deco ambience and gourmet pub food offerings matched perfectly to their beers, the street art covered laneway out the back is where to go for beer garden vibes right next to the beer brewing tanks, where they brew up craft beer and ciders right there onsite.
The End at Vulture Street is a hip little space, squeezed into the space formerly occupied by Trash Video. They kept a heap of treasure from the video store and have used it to decorate the bar, along with vintage furniture. The crowd at The End is casual and eclectic, with folks stopping by for the rad tunes, long list of local and international beers, and seasonal cocktails. The End is a must visit for anyone in the area.
The Boundary Hotel
West End’s most iconic watering hole is looking pretty snazzy after it’s 2018 makeover, but The Boundary Hotel has managed to maintain those classic pub vibes we all know and love. Upstairs is where you’ll find a lush beer garden, perfect for enjoying a burger and a beer in the breeze, or you can down a bevvy with a meal on the rooftop bar—the only one in West End.
Just next-door is Bosc, a recent addition to the West End scene, and the self-proclaimed home of the gin cocktail. These guys were on the gin train before it had even left the station, and their expertise really shows. They've also got eight beer taps that are changed over on a monthly basis, and a great wine list. They even have wines for your vegan "friends" (read: acquaintances). Decent bar snacks and tapas make Bosc a great all-rounder.
The Brew Baron
Thirsty? Not at The Brew Baron. The craft brewery serves up a huge range of cold ones, all brewed right there on site. Don’t worry if you’re not a beer drinker though—we get it—because they have a selection of boutique wines and spirits on offer too. They've also got a pool room on the mezzanine level, plenty of classic pub grub, big screen TVs, leather chesterfield sofas, live music and big deck. Everything you could want in a brewery, really.
If you like your bars lush, green, and full of gin, then boy, have you hit the jackpot. The Covent Garden is nothing short of a botanical oasis, and is stocked with over 170 different types of craft gin to match your every whim. What more could you ask for?
Ballistic Alehouse & Kitchen
Another location for the Salisbury brewery, Ballistic Alehouse & Kitchen has all the craft beer giant’s brews on tap, only in a slightly more sophisticated setting. With a breezy deck out front and a relaxed, wooden barrel and Chesterfield sofa-filled bar inside, you can choose your preferred vibe before sitting down to a pint or something un-beery from the spirit and wine menu, best paired with drinking snacks like loaded fries or popcorn chicken.
The Bearded Lady
The Bearded Lady is one of those bars that makes you feel cooler the moment you walk through the door, filled with arm chairs, hanging clocks, lamp shades, and pot plants. Entertaining the masses with a wild assortment of musical acts most nights of the week, the bar is well stocked with plenty of local beers on tap, cocktails and wines, while the vegan and vego-friendly menu features the likes of arancini balls nachos, and bangers and mash.
Brisbane Brewing Co.
Taking over an entire laneway off Boundary Street, Brisbane Brewing Co. elevates their brewing operation with perfect snacking accompaniments like classic pub grub and cheeseboards to go with the tides of ale coming out of their tanks. If the laneway is too hot/wet/cold for you, there’s a full industrial-style bar inside, where you can see the tanks brewing up their range behind a glass wall to one side.
The Burrow in West End is probably better known for their food than drinks (and with homemade pizzas on crispy bases, featuring a unique range of toppings like the swordfish and watermelon, it's hardly a surprise). However, this warm and cosy little nook also has an extensive range of craft beers, ciders and alcoholic ginger ales. Open from breakfast through to late night, this spot is perfect for an afternoon drink and feed.
If it's somewhere to eat you're after, check out West End's best restaurants here.
Image credit: Cobbler, Ranyhyn Laine, Piloni, Jungle Bar, Covent Garden, The Boundary Hotel, Esteban Riviera