Brisbane bars: 24 of the best

When it comes to bars in Brisbane, every neighbourhood in the city boasts a unique range of drinking spots offering everything from small batch liquors to Brooklyn lagers. Whether you're after a moody whiskey saloon, dancing and cocktails, or a top tier wine list, you can find it all in Brisbane, if only you know where to look. Here are Brisbane’s top 24 bars - the tried and tested, award-winning bars the locals love. Brisbane bars: 24 of the best
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Brisbane bars: 24 of the best

Sometimes it's nice not to feel like a tourist, but instead to discover a city like a local.


When it comes to bars in Brisbane, every neighbourhood in the city boasts a unique range of drinking spots offering everything from small batch liquors to Brooklyn lagers.

Whether you're after a moody whiskey saloon, dancing and cocktails, or a top tier wine list, you can find it all in Brisbane, if only you know where to look.

Here are Brisbane’s top 24 bars - the tried and tested, award-winning bars the locals love.

Words by Visit Brisbane See more

Riverbar

This fresh, nautical themed bar and kitchen will whisk you from the centre of the business district to a distant holiday place. Find a spot under the yellow and white striped umbrellas and order a cocktail jug to share.

Good for: after-work drinks with a relaxed vibe
What to drink: Pimm’s jug

The Gresham

Brisbane’s favourite whisky saloon took out national Bar of the Year at the 2015 Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards. Sink into a chesterfield lounge, rest your whisky on a table made of rich mahogany and take in the old-world charm of the heritage-listed building.

Good for: sophisticated catch ups and tasting whiskies stocked nowhere else in Australia.
What to drink: whisky

Eleven Rooftop Bar

Ride the elevator the 11th floor and step out into a marble foyer. You’ve arrived at Eleven – a sophisticated bar and restaurant in the sky with uninterrupted views of Fortitude Valley and Brisbane City. This is a place to dress up for, so take note – collared shirts and leather shoes are a must.

Good for: the views
What to drink: bottles of champagne

John Mills Himself

Tucked down a laneway in a historic printing building, John Mills Himself puts the focus on local produce. The menu reads like a drive itinerary, letting you know how many kilometres away each wine was fermented, beer was bottled and spirit distilled.

Good for: intimate drinks
What to drink: something local

Canvas

These cocktail kings put twists on the classics and offer up new surprises. Each cocktail gets a name, a quote and a hashtag. Canvas also realise the power of an espresso martini – and serve them for breakfast on weekends.

Good for: cheeseboards and drinks with friends, late night desserts, pushing your limits and learning about spirits
What to drink:
cocktail of your choice or flight of spirits

Coppa Spuntino

Feel like it’s all been there, done that when it comes to Italian dining? Coppa serves modern Italian tapas and a wine list of primarily Italian drops. Grab a seat at the bar for two, order a plate of freshly sliced prosciutto and pick a vino or one of nine types of negronis on offer – now that’s the perfect aperitivo hour.

Good for: drinks with your special human or small groups of friends to drink and dine
What to drink: negroni or Italian wine

Alfred & Constance

You can’t have a bad time at Alfred & Constance. This unique three-storey venue is made of two Queenslander homes connected by a deck in between. Head upstairs to the Tiki Bar for a pumping dancefloor and four-person tiki bowl cocktails. Downstairs is a Berlin-inspired underground disco bar and at ground level is a bistro, bar and late-night dessert café.

Good for: Friday and Saturday nights with friends
What to drink: tiki bowl

Anise

The petite Anise is a wine lover’s dream – it offers more wine by the glass than it has seats in the bar. In saying that, the intimate space has just 22 seats. Stay for an all-class dinner or just drop by for a few drinks.

Good for: date night
What to drink: wine, wine, wine

The Bowery

The best bars are often unassuming and The Bowery makes that list. This New York-style staple in Fortitude Valley specialises in the art of cocktail making and caters to a slightly older market.

Good for: late nights with friends
What to drink: cocktails from its awesome list

Fitz & Potts

Pull up a cane bar stool on the deck of the retro-styled bar in Nundah. Sporting the perfect amount of kitsch, Fitz & Potts is the spot to take friends and whittle away an afternoon with small batch liquors, crafts beers and wines, and simple bar food.

Good for: neighbourhood catch ups, 
What to drink: something local

Brooklyn Standard

Love live music? Want to listen to it six days a week? You’re in luck. This all-American themed underground laneway bar is every bit as cool as it sounds. With free table pretzels, Brooklyn lager on tap and a dance floor that gets more use than most nightclubs – it’s no wonder Brooklyn Standard took our Best Live Music Venue at the 2015 Australian Bartender Magazine Awards.

Good for: dancing to live music, hiding in a booth eating pretzels, late nights with friends
What to drink: Brooklyn lager

Lefty's Old Time Music Hall

Dim chandeliers illuminate taxidermy bears and deer heads covered in bras. Once a gentlemen’s club, the two-tier venue now rocks country music and live blues every other night. Behind the bar, staff juice Granny Smith apples non-stop to punch out the house specialty – whisky apple juice. Don’t drink whisky? You just might at Lefty’s.

In 2014 Lefty’s won Bar of Year at the Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards – that’s two in a row for Brisbane. #winning

Good for: a boogie with friends
What to drink: whisky apple juice, though they do have a full bar of options

Newstead Brewing Co

Local microbrewery Newstead Brewing Co is so much more than a few barrels of beer. This gastropub features an affordable gourmet menu to pair with its award-winning brews, and the bar stocks a full range of spirits.

Good for: catch ups with mates
What to drink: beer (best paired with chicken wings)

Gerard’s Bar

Here chefs have turned the humble cheeseburger into a theatrical production –  a blow torch is used to flame grill this bar snack to perfection in front of your eyes. While here indulge in a selection of chacuterie – including artisan meats, housemade salumis and even vegetarian and vegan chacuterie items.

Good for: small groups, date night
What to drink: anything with chacuterie

Maker

This bar is probably too cool for you and everyone you know – that’s all the more reason to visit. Located down Fish Lane, it seats just 10 people and the bartenders are masters of their art, artisans of mixology, cocktail heroes… should we go on? The bar will soon be serving chacuterie too, but in the meantime watch the hanging meats ageing through a window.

Good for: groups of two to four at most
What to drink: bespoke cocktails

The End

This is The End my friend – a small galley of a bar popular with West End locals. The bar plays ‘90s films on the back wall (a tribute to Trash Video, the store it replaced), often has live music or a DJ spinning vinyl, and boasts an impressive cocktail list and craft beer offering.

Good for: mingling with local hipsters
What to drink: anything alcoholic

Nant Whisky

Serving exceptional single malts from its distillery in Tasmania, Nant has two whisky bars in Brisbane. Both upscale saloons offer Nant’s award-winning drops plus a range of fine single malts from around the globe.

Good for: those with expensive tastes
What to drink: whisky

The Walrus Club

Often the best bars are hidden away, and you’ll find this speakeasy underground. Beneath the iconic Regatta Hotel lies The Walrus Club – a raw brick, chesterfield couch-laden rum den. The large rabbit warren of a space is great for groups and you can catch the CityCat straight to its door – which would be fitting as it draws its name from the SS Walrus, a Brisbane ship that was briefly a floating rum distillery.

Good for: groups of friends to find a private corner or set of lounges to hang out in
What to drink: rum

Stoke Bar

With a prime position on the riverbank, Stoke Bar is the perfect spot to wind down your weekend. Stop by Stokehouse restaurant for lunch before popping next door for drinks with uninterrupted river and CBD views.

Good for: views of the Brisbane River
What to drink: wine      

Greaser

Chances are you’ll walk past a few times before you find this bar. Hidden down an alleyway in Fortitude Valley, Greaser is a relaxed space with a rebellious rock ‘n’ roll vibe and American-inspired nosh. Throw down a shot of tequila or a pickleback (that’s a shot of whisky followed by a shot of pickle juice) and chase it with fried chicken.

Good for: unpretentious dive bar vibe
What to drink: pickleback (we dare you)

Elixir

One of Brisbane’s first rooftop bars, Elixir is an intimate garden oasis in the sky. On the roof you’ll find a bar stocked with a fine selection of spirits, impressive cocktail list and great local beers (including Matsos mango beer).

Good for: small groups of friends, date night
What to drink: cocktails

Emporium Cocktail Bar

Bar hop from the Nant Whisky bar to Emporium Cocktail Bar for an all-class drinking experience. Emporium, quite clearly, specialises in cocktails and its puts the focus on local. Try one featuring local liqueurs from Tamborine Mountain Distillery, with flavours including Lemon Myrtle and Wattle Toffee liqueurs, and Lilly Pilly gin.

Good for: quiet drinks with friends
What to drink: cocktails with exotic local liqueurs

Black Bird

Black Bird brings the glitz and the glam back to the river’s edge. At Eagle Street Pier, this large bar has elevated and uninterrupted views of the Story Bridge and Brisbane River.

Good for: dressing up for a night out in the CBD 

What to drink: patron shots

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