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The best bars in Brisbane

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

Morag Kobez
Written by
Morag Kobez

From tiny bars tucked away in city laneways to casual, kitschy neighbourhood balcony bars, these are all well worth a visit. 

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 pick of the bunch in Brisbane right now.

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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 historic Burnett Lane. The amber glow of 600 bottles of quality booze behind the bar will warm even the darkest of hearts.

It might be Brisbane’s tiniest bar: small in stature, but big on style. Cocktails are works of art. There are weird, wonderful tinctures and bar snacks you absolutely will not find elsewhere in town. From the vermouth in your Martini to veal-tendon crisps, it’s all thoughtfully crafted in house. 


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. 

When you want to drink in the Valley, but you still want to keep it classy. The entrance is unmarked, and the staircase dark and winding. Press on. An intimate chandelier-lit booth awaits. Cocktails are top-shelf. 


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 beers on tap, handmade sodas, live music and the tastiest bar snacks around (many of them vegan). 

John Mills is not your average CBD boozer, closing at 8.30pm on weeknights, and 10.30pm on weekends. He’s a sophisticated chap with heritage-listed digs, an all-Australian drinks list and a welcoming vibe. Day drinking never looked so classy.


The motto here is simple: No pretension, no dress code, just ‘damn’ good drinkin’. If glitzy Park Road seems like an unlikely location for a friendly little dive bar, don’t take our word for it. Stop by and see what tasty draft beer is on offer this week. BYO food and dogs. 

This sister venue to City Winery has the same good genes, but she is cuter, cosier and just a little bit sassier than her sibling. Food and wine menus change frequently, with City Winery’s Gerler range the obvious mainstay. 


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.

This fun, friendly corner bar makes moving to the ‘burbs look appealing. Sunday arvo sessions on the leafy, astro-turfed deck are an institution, where the booze is all-Aussie made and menu is completely vegan.

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