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The 12 best bars in Brisbane

Heading out on the town? Here are the best places in Brisbane to wet your whistle

Melissa WoodleyMorag Kobez
Written by: Morag Kobez
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Brisbane may be renowned for its sprawling pubs and beer gardens, where you can settle in for a laid-back session and soak up the year-round sunshine – but these days there’s a whole lot more to the river city’s booze scene than meets the eye. Whether you’re looking for the best spot for cleverly crafted cocktails or a dive bar where you can drink with your dog, these are the best bars in Brisbane right now.

Hungry? Find the best places to eat in Brisbane here.

West End might be renowned for its cheap and cheerful bars, but this definitely isn’t one of them. Behind the floor-to-ceiling velvet curtain, more than 300 bottles of whisky await, with some seriously luxe drams on offer. Served with an eyedropper of water or hand-cut ice, if you must. 

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Morag Kobez
Contributor
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fortitude Valley

The Nixon Room is the chic, little sister of Essa – one of Brisbane’s trendiest eateries where each plate is a revelry of nature’s best. That being considered, expect nothing short of a memorable night out at the restaurant’s Martini bar spin-off. The hidden space just off James Street in Fortitude Valley keeps things casual. Pair your cocktail with funky snacks, like kettle chips and green garlic aioli or hash browns topped with wagyu tartare.

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Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
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When you want to drink in the Valley but want to keep it classy, sashay over to Savile Row. Hidden in plain sight behind an unmarked orange door and down a dark and winding staircase, this whiskey and cocktail bar is a tribute to the iconic central London strip known for its exquisite tailoring. Shuffle into one of the intimate chandelier-lit booths for top-shelf cocktails, which are refreshed every quarter. Alternatively, trust the team to guide you with their top pick from Savile Row’s shiny gallery of 1,000 booze bottles.

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Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia

For a little bar, Maker certainly packs a big punch. The 20-seater den of black minimalism shakes and stirs an ever-changing list of cocktails, each presented like a true work of art. Stick with one from the seasonal menu or be bold with a bespoke cocktail – just tell the bartenders what you’re in the mood for. Pair your tipple with bar snacks that you absolutely won’t find elsewhere in town.

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Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia
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Don’t be deterred by the menacing Grim Reaper mural on the wall outside. The welcome is warm, and so is the ambience inside this cavernous former warehouse in Brisbane’s oldest laneway, Burnett Lane. The amber glow of 1,000 bottles of quality booze behind the bar will warm even the darkest of hearts. 

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Morag Kobez
Contributor

Right on the banks of the river under the Story Bridge, this is the easiest, breeziest spot in Brisbane to while away a Sunday session. Nab a table on the deck or sprawl on a picnic rug on the lawn and work your way through the fresh, frothy ales and lagers brewed on-site.

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Morag Kobez
Contributor
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It really is all fun and games at this corner bar at the seedy end of the Valley. In addition to the best collection of retro arcade games, there are 24 local beers on tap, handmade sodas, live music and the tastiest bar snacks around (many of them vegan). 

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Morag Kobez
Contributor
  • Restaurants
  • Brisbane

We almost guarantee the decor at this overwater bar is unlike anything you’ve seen before: think 70’s discotheque meets sunny Mediterranean. The latter sets the scene for an Italian-inspired menu with plenty of seafood share dishes, pasta and pizzas, plus aperitivo hour on weekdays. Perch yourself at the towering bar for oysters and a Spritz, or head out to the deck for Moreton Bay bug rolls and fresh burrata with crispy bread.

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Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
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  • Cocktail bars
  • Brisbane City

If walls could talk, the Gresham would sit you down, buy you a glass of scotch and go on all night about the space’s substantial history. From its inception as the Queensland National Bank to witnessing thousand-man brawls, the 19th-century building has seen its fair share of scenes. Nowadays, the space plays host to less bar fights and more spirit-tasting flights. The Gresham is cosy and rustic, and with its cascading bar and antique photo hangings, you might just feel like you’ve taken a couple of steps back in time.

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Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
  • Wine bars
  • Teneriffe

Pop in for a drop at Brisbane’s friendly neighbourhood wine bar. Or maybe we should say bars. Ardo’s knows its stuff so well that it has venues all around the city in Hawthorne, Graceville and Newstead. The wine bar spotlights local growers and makers for a tasting experience that’s far from your boring glass at the pub. The best part is if you like what you’re sipping, Ardo’s doubles a cellar door, selling a whole heap of artisanal bottles. 

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Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
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