It’s a well-worn saying: you can be certain of two things in life, death and taxes. In Brisbane, though, you can at least be sure of something else: if Martin Lange opens a bar, it’s bound to be excellent.
Lange is already behind three of the best boltholes in town (and indeed on the east coast): Cobbler, Savile Row and Finney Isles. All are known for their enormous back bars, immaculate fit-outs and exacting service. Before that, there was the much-loved, long-closed Sling Bar in West End, which Lange co-owned with Blake Ward.
Lange has once again partnered with Ward on Death and Taxes, which opened earlier this week in Burnett Lane in the heart of the CBD. Wiebke Lange (Martin’s wife) is a third partner, while long-term Lange lieutenant Sam Tripet is managing the venue and also has a small stake in the business.
Each of Lange’s venues has a different inspiration. This time it’s the underground bars of London and Paris. Death and Taxes is designed to encourage guests to forget the outside world and demonstrates a precise attention to detail: the interior is defined by warm lighting, a high-set bar with a tiled front, and a line of sumptuous leather booths. The space transitions neatly from the open front room to the wood-lined, heritage-listed back area with its 100-year-old floors; here it feels less a bar and more like an opulent art gallery. The classy flourishes extend to the exterior, with large lion door knockers and a couple of murals adorning the brick walls that act as an entryway from the main lane.
“I’ve always wanted to do a bar in a laneway and there’s a really good energy here,” Lange says. “When you walk in the door you forget about your problems.”
For booze, more than 600 bottles line a four-metre-tall back bar, fuelling a 30-drink-strong cocktail list. Tripet says there’s no particular expression at play – just a focus on taste. You might try a Dr. Know-All, with Tanqueray gin, snow pea, vanilla and peppermint crème, shaken with egg whites; the Huntsman – an old-fashioned style mix of Singleton 12 scotch whisky, manzanilla, Benedictine and apple caramel; or a sunnier Sleeping Giant, with Pampero Anejo rum, pineapple and coconut curd, Pedro Ximenez and Branca Menta.
There are also 40 bottles of wine, including a bunch of dessert vinos.
There’s no food menu, but Death and Taxes shares Cobbler’s approach – BYO grub is accepted and even encouraged. In that sense, it’ll make for a neat two-hander with Jamie Fleming’s Alba which will soon open next door.
“If people are hungry and want to eat in the bar, they can,” Tripet says. “There are plenty of great places in the area – Korean, Vietnamese.”
Most of all, it’s about hospitality. Tripet reckons one of the first things he learned from Lange was that a venue’s atmosphere can suffer when it’s too concept-driven. Lange and Ward’s approach at Sling was to not overcomplicate the guest experience, and that philosophy extends to Cobbler, Savile Row, Finney Isles and now Death and Taxes.
“We just want people to have a good time and make sure everybody feels at home,” Lange says.
Death and Taxes
36 Burnett Lane, Brisbane
Sun to Wed 3pm–12am
Thu to Sat 3pm–2am