A great winter bar can transport you to a parallel universe. It’s a place that blends past and present, where the atmosphere is invitingly warm, and for the first time all day people forget they own smartphones. Here’s where to ride out the winter – with a cocktail in hand.
Seymour’s Cocktails & Oysters
Push through the red velvet curtains at the entrance to this bar on Caxton Street to discover a humming bar that’s a slice of old-world New Orleans. Take a seat around the brass-topped bar, or shimmy into a booth and order a nip of Ron Zacapa 23 rum over a hand-chiseled ice cube. Some nights there’s someone tinkling the keys on the piano. Open every day in Petrie Terrace.
Make a beeline for the big armchairs in the front window of this stylish speakeasy and sink in while you nurse your nightcap. Nestled in the Woolloongabba antiques shopping precinct, Canvas is a welcoming mix of old meets new. Charming chesterfields, window drapes and warm lighting invite you to stay a little longer. Try the Penny’s Big Bang, a classic cocktail that mixes rich mascarpone cream with Ketel One vodka, raspberry, lemon and a sprinkle of biscuit crumbs on top. It’s cheesecake in liquid form. Thanks to the lemon zing it’s not too sweet – take a squiz at the recipe here to try it for yourself.
Enter the orange door on bustling Ann Street and slip through a black silk curtain to find Fortitude Valley’s newest bolthole. At its centre, a giant gleaming chandelier hangs above a feature wall of spirits. Last count, there were 750 bottles. The cocktail menu has a spicy mix of 20 unique drinks, including the blazing Nancy Archer. Talisker 10-year-old smoky Scotch is lit on fire and mixed with Pedro Ximenez sherry, popcorn, cinnamon, rosemary and muscovado sugar. It’s then strained and served piping hot. Nab a candlelit, cosy corner, slide into a curved black leather booth or perch yourself upstairs and watch the bartenders at work below.
In need of something to soothe that winter chill? A stop at The Apo in Fortitude Valley is the cure. This heritage-listed 19th-century medicine dispensary has been transformed with marble and blond timber accents, with plenty of nooks to sit in. The Penicillin cocktail should do the trick – with a mix of smoky Talisker 10-year-old single-malt whisky, Scotch whisky, lemon, honey and fresh ginger. If a dash of sugar and spice is what you seek, head there on Sundays from midday for its Bloody Mary cart.
Dark curtains and no signage make it easy to walk straight past this dimly lit West End bar. But once inside, the speakeasy vibe comes alive with candles dripping wax, rum-coloured furniture and an impressive wall of spirits. Kill Bill is this winter’s theme; the Gogo Yubari cocktail is a standout. Served tall with orange and grated nutmeg, it pulls Tanqueray gin and banana vermouth together with salted-macadamia honey, pinot grigio, lemon juice and a couple of dashes of absinthe. Pull up a comfy, padded chair at the bar for a chat with the bartenders as they shake up your drink.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with World Class.