Brisbane G20 Bar Guide

Feel like a drink after a hard G20 day?

Brisbane has plenty of bars that will take the frown off your face and put a smile on your dial.

Here's a selection of my favourites, all within easy distance of Brisbane's CBD and guaranteed to serve great drinks.

When size doesn't matter

You like your bars small and intimate? Don't want to drink with a crowd?  Try Dutch Courage Officers Mess for an outstanding collection of gins, Papa Jacks at M&A for live jazz, blues, grassroots, R&B and soul by local musicians, Gerard's Bar for excellent charcuterie and a fine selection of wines and The Gresham in the CBD for and extensive list of rye whiskies and bourbons.

John Mills Himself  is located in the heritage-listed John Mills Building on Charlotte St. Tucked beneath Archives Fine Books, access this hidden gem via the driveway on 55 Elizabeth St. Staying true to the building’s architectural heritage, the quaint space features high windows, exposed brick walls and dark timber beams.

Latest and greatest?

Head to Caxton Street, Petrie Terrace, on the fringe of the CBD to find what Gourmet Traveller Magazine calls Australia’s Bar of the Year. Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall has taken over where The Velvet Cigar finished with rich red walls, plenty of taxidermy, country music and American eats.

In the heart of the city, the new Next Hotel Brisbane has a bar that’s got everyone talking.  When the weather is warm there’s nothing better than cooling off in a pool, especially if the pool on level 4 overlooking Queen St Mall. Here you’ll find Poolteno, a pool party every Friday night from 5.30pm, with herbalicious cocktails, BBQ bite plates and a live DJ. Some are calling it the coolest spot in the centre of the city to hang out.

Beer nut?

On the other side of the river at South Bank, The Charming Squire is named after Australia's first brewer and a charming rogue, James Squire.  The new brewhouse boasts an industrial and open plan design that aims to encourage customers to become intimately acquainted with the brewing process thanks to the on-site brewery, and to explore the many and diverse flavours and styles of James Squire craft beers and ciders.

Pig n Whistle in Brunswick Street was home to one of Brisbane's much loved fine diners, but when the two hatted Ortiga closed in 2013 the site was snapped up by one of the city’s longest running hospitality operations, Mantle Group, to be their fourth little piggy, Pig 'N' Whistle Brunswick Street.

Woolly Mammoth Alehouse in Ann Street, Fortitude Valley promises Queensland’s largest selection of 31 craft beers, and an astro-turf Garden Bar for indoor bocce and giant Jegna. There’s a downstairs Alehouse that’s reminiscent of an old beer hall and Mane Stage, catering for a cultural cross section of patrons.  Food options include grazing tables of hearty food and an out-of-the-box late night dining selection. The interiors, crafted by Alexander Lotersztain of Derlot Design, the architectural mastermind behind venues including Depo, Alfred & Constance and Kwan brothers, are sure to impress Brisbane lovers of design.

Cocktail queen

Just down the street and one giant flight of stairs up to podium level up you’ll find Soleil Pool Bar, an offshoot from the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant in Rydges Hotel, South Bank.  ‘Drinks by the pool’ takes on new meaning with a gold and white timber bar and an enormous LED ceiling screen at the bar entry. Soliel’s creative cocktail list The Black Barrel Inquisition, a theatrical drink with Mount Gay black barrel rum and All Saints Rutherglen Muscat, stirred down with whisky barrel and chocolate bitters and served in a glass dome with captive whisky smoke.

Using herbs and honey from their rooftop garden, Emporium Hotel in Ann Street has created new a new range of summer cocktails.  Try a Lavender Honey Sour or Lavender Margarita, made with flowers from the herb garden on the hotel’s roof or an ‘E’ Honey Cocktail.  There’s a tapas menu matched with the cocktails too. The Emporium’s bees are so proficient, the hotel is putting their honey in little jars in all guest rooms as well as part of their Roof to Room program.

Walk on the wild side

Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has long been a mecca for bars, nightclubs and those seeking a good night out.
Created from an old noodle factory, Kwan Brothers in Alfred Street is an acid-house interpretation of Asia through a western lens.  Serving up Asian-street food in share-plate style, Kwans is a place where you can lose track of time.  It’s a ‘hidden bar’, tucked away behind a cold room door reminiscent of a Tokyo nightclub, with a vast selection of Japanese aged whiskeys, top-shelf scotches and spirits. Make sure you ask the bartender to show you his ice-cutting skills.

Get lei'd at Alfred & Constance's Tiki Bar in Constance Street, Fortitude Valley- there's nothing shy about the decor here.

Shout it from the roof top

Around the corner in Constance Street, Limes Hotel Rooftop Bar is a resort-style, sophisticated rooftop carpeted in astro-turf and two new plunge pools. There’s moonlight cinema during the week and midnight pool parties on the weekends.

Located on the top of the new TRYP Hotel, also in Constance Street, Up is one Brisbane’s new rooftop bars. An airy, open space with expansive views, the vibe here is casual and relaxed and the food is seasonal small plates. The first pour champagne is Veuve Clicquot and you can expect chilled soul and funk to groove the night away to until 2am. Look for the graphic street art and find the lift entrance down the side of Chur, where the burgers are memorable. Don’t forget to check out Up’s very special bathroom hand basins.

In Edward Street, the refurbished Stock Exchange Hotel has re-emerged with a flower basket-filled oasis on the rooftop and gourmet pub grub served under chandeliers in the Stockie Kitchen.

Kerry Heaney