Compared with the landscape we had just a few years ago, Brisbane’s bar scene is barely recognisable. Spurred by the rapid development of Australian spirits, a desire for seasonal produce and a new interest in classic recipes, Brisbane bars are championing the art of cocktail making.
Here’s our guide to the best drinks coming out of our favourite bars.
Potion No. 9 at The Bowery
The Australian Bartender Awards has named it Queensland’s Best Cocktail Bar three years in a row for good reason. Of all the Brisbane bars reclaiming the grandeur and style of classic cocktails, The Bowery is perhaps the most finessed and produce-led.
“We’re constantly re-inventing things, but are always true to a classic ethos,” says co-owner Stephanie Canfell. “We are working with native botanicals, and have always made jams, sherbets and syrups with different fresh ingredients.” This year the bar’s spring–summer menu includes Potion No. 9 – a blend of bourbon, French aperitif, rhubarb and merlot syrup with bitters and salt.
The Han Solo at The Cobbler
The Cobbler on Browning Street in the West End is a go-to for whisky in a relaxed atmosphere. Despite the bar’s ridiculous 100-plus range of whiskeys and its several bartending awards, the vibe is fun and unpretentious.
That’s most reflected in The Cobbler’s themed menus. This season the bar has a Star Wars-inspired menu led by Han Solo, a tart, amber drink with Talisker 10 Year Old Scotch Whisky, Suze gentian aperitif, lemon thyme, agave, Burdock & Dandelion Bitters and a garnish of scorched lemon and thyme.
The G&T at The Public
Benjamin Deacon, general manager at CBD bar The Public, is excited about the Australian spirits industry.
“There are so many options all over Australia now,” he says. Deacon and his team run a simplicity-led cocktail list at The Public with an impressively varied flavour palette. “We don’t want people to feel intimidated when they read a menu,” he says. “The customer doesn’t need to know that the ingredient is hand-picked by fairies in the forbidden forest.”
That simplicity underlines Deacon’s favourite offering – The G&T. It features Tanqueray Gin, Italian aperitif, lemon, rosemary syrup, black-pepper tincture and tonic.
Dr Emmett L. Brown at Canvas Club
Don’t be deceived by Canvas Club’s relaxed look. Just because it doesn’t have leather lounges and dimly lit booths doesn’t mean it’s afraid of a sophisticated drink.
“The first thing we think of is fun,” says Canvas Club bartender Nick Royds. “We want to create a drink that is interesting but playful at the same time. From interesting ingredients, presentation with glassware and garnishing and even the name.”
A great example of what this bar does is the Dr Emmett L. Brown, named after Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies. It’s a tiki-style drink with Pampero Especial Rum, orange juice, lime juice and maple-ginger syrup, with dark miso paste, cardamom and plum bitters. “It's also served with a plum-bitters dry-ice fog for the mad-scientist feel,” says Royds.
The Young & Beautiful at Super Whatnot
Tucked away between a loading dock and a chemist, Super Whatnot feels like a secret find. More so when the interior reveals a sunken dining area, mezzanine and bar area serving some of the city's best cocktails.
One such concoction is the The Young & Beautiful. “We created The Young & Beautiful to break the stigma of whisky being a "man's drink,” says Siobhan Male of Super Whatnot. “The idea was to make something juicy and yummy but also inviting and a little more light-hearted.” The drink combines whisky with an Italian herbal aperitif, lemon, ginger syrup, sugar and rosewater.
This article is presented in partnership with World Class.