Sometimes the lead-up, that sense of bubbling anticipation, is more exciting than the actual main event. Your first snog might have felt like a mouth carwash, but those belly butterflies in the moments preceding are what it’s really all about.
The same goes for a night out on the town (which may include further unfortunate pashing incidents). Even if your clubbing crusades are a bit underwhelming, you can always look back fondly on those few hours when you cultivate your buzz: the pre-drinks.
Precinct by precinct, these Brisbane bars are the perfect spot to start your evening, to throw back a few and prep your belly for a big night out.
An outing to the Valley will, nine times out of 10, end up a little messy. Before you embark on the slippery slope of bad dancing and bad decisions, keep things classy with pre-drinks at everyone’s favourite lounge chair graveyard, Kerbside.
If chili cheese fries and a selection of around 200 beers don’t do it for you, duck up the road to Dutch Courage Officer’s Mess for a G&T and a Ploughman’s platter to nibble on.
If you’ve got your party people in tow, you might prefer to enjoy a brew with a view at fellow rooftop bar UP on Constance, where four-person punch and spiked ice tea are standouts.
It’s also worth hunting down the elusive Greaser bar—found behind a red door, down a driveway, through a kitchen on Brunswick Street—to take advantage of $5 Happy Hour drinks and try the infamous pickleback shooters.
James Street your hang? You can’t go wrong with Sixes and Sevens (poutine forever), Gerard’s Bar (cured meats for days), or the N’awlins-inspired Papa Jack's at the foot of the M&A building, where prohibition-era poisons are the order of the day.
Less clubs, more pubs is the West End way. This bar-heavy boheme is bangin’ on any given weekend, with a full calendar of live music gigs at big-name music halls and boutique venues alike.
One of the newest drinking dens to be welcomed to West End is Brisbane Brewing Co. Tucked down a laneway, this small-batch brewery serves lagers and ales fresh as they come, with hunger-busters extending from a drool-worthy deli to piled-high hoagies.
Most watering holes in West End merge cold drinks with even cooler tunes, and the Bearded Lady is no exception. The stubbly lass keeps the beer flowing freely, the live tunes pumping, and welcomes BYO eats.
It’s a similar story further down the way at whisky emporium Cobbler, where the menu is strictly drinks-only and you’re welcome to bring something more substantial to snack on.
Sling Lounge (where you can take your tapas and creative cocktails in the courtyard) and Loft Bar—perched above everyone’s favourite beer hall, Archive—are also fine options to start your night on a high note in West End.
Pre-drinks are by no means limited to violently coloured mixers. At a certain point, you want your nights out to come with less fuzzy memories and drunk-dialing, and a smidge more sophistication.
If you’ve got tickets to a theatrical performance, gallery exhibition or are simply dining out in South Bank, kick-start your evening with some shared rooftop dranks at Soleil Pool Bar (you can double or sextuple your drink order), or the devilish grapefruit lychee sangria at Ole’s Sangria Bar.
If you want to keep it low-key, Hoo Ha Bar’s current cocktails include an espresso gingerbread martini, while the extensive variety of crafty pints at Tomahawk Bar begs perusal and demands a soft-baked pretzel on the side.
If it’s a loose night out on Caxton Street you seek, you don’t have to wander far to sip your first tipple of the night.
Of course, if you did want to widen the geographical boundaries, you might choose to commence your revelry at The Scratch in Milton, whose constantly rotating taps are legendary, or Paddington tapas nook Remy’s, where you can take a three-nip ‘spirit flight’.
Newcomer Hops, Scotch and Beans is an equally suitable place for pre-drink-drinks (a $12 schooner and wings seals the deal) while, on Caxton Street itself, you can always count on some quality liquid gold (and seriously good wood-fired pizza) at Brewski.
Yes, yes, we all know Lefty’s is in the ‘hood, but the Old Time Music Hall is really the sort of place you want to settle into for the night—not just start things off. Our love affair with their whisky apples is no fleeting romance.
As a final note, always remember not to over-consume too early or you will risk dancing Santa-style, shaking your belly for a bowl full of jelly. I don’t think anyone’s ready for that jelly.
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Image credit: Daniel Maddock