Brisbane's sophisticated bar scene is rising to new heights with cocktails for every occasion.
By Jac Taylor
From dazzling glamour to cheeky speakeasy style, you'll find no shortage of bars in Brisbane serving up cocktails to make your night something special. The sunshine city is home to so many talented bartenders dedicated to creating innovative menus, that cocktails here have become nothing less than an art form.
Relax on a chesterfield sofa out on the deck, with spectacular 180-degree river views at Blackbird, in the landmark Riverside Centre skyscraper. The cocktail menu is divided into The Great Gatsby (prohibition-era stuff), Sippin' Safari (tiki bar style) and even a list loosely drawn from the famous Recipe for Mixed Drinks book of 1916. The luxury grill provides food as decadent as the drinks to set you up for the evening in style. Wander to the extensive back bar to find masterfully devised drinks inspired by the 1920s party years, as well as rare and exclusive Scotch, whisky, tequila, bourbon and more.
A more casual space, yet just as infatuated with 1920s glamour, Next Door Kitchen & Bar brings a dynamic menu of food and drink to the popular precinct of South Bank. Hang out in the sultry, dark indoor bar or the alfresco area. Modernised swing and jazz tunes send you smoothly back in time, helped by retro cocktail concoctions such as Giggle Water (rosé mixed with lychee, juices and berry tea infused syrup) or a She’s in Siam (tequila, Aperol, coconut water, chilli and citrus).
John Mills Himself may be tucked away underneath Archives Fine Books, a bookstore stocking rare, second-hand and collectors edition tomes, but the building is easy to find. It is a heritage-listed old printery office that really does have "John Mills Himself" emblazoned across the top. Among the exposed bricks and timber beams, the bar offers only Australian spirits, and beers and wines produced within 250 kilometres (155 miles) to ensure your "drink miles" will be low. The menu is listed in order of distance from the bar. Craft spirits used in the seasonal cocktails here include lilli pilli gin and organic limoncello. Try a Fernando sweet vodka martini made with 666 butter vodka, Bee One Third honey, sweet vermouth and an orange twist.
The Apothecary, in fashionably gritty Fortitude Valley, is known for its conceptual take on food and drink, and indeed some of its cocktails combine the two. You'll find unusual ingredients such as porcini mushrooms, herbs and smoked black tea on the cocktail menu. As often as not, cocktails are served up in vintage medicinal bottles in tribute to the building's past as a medicine dispensary. For pure decadence, order a Cookies and Cream Grasshopper, or choose the coffee-based Ristretto Martini or Smokey Cold Drip Godfather, both of which will have you taking the Valley by storm all night.
The Bowery is a low profile bar with a big reputation for its dedication to cocktails. The menu even names the year each drink was created and by whom. Relax to a soundtrack of soul music and live jazz and sip on boutique spirits expertly mixed. With this amount of talent behind the bar, simply tell them what kind of tipple you like, and let them come up with an original creation to surprise you.