Brisbane began the year with the loss of Super Whatnot, one of the first (and best) small bars to open after the state government introduced small-bar licences back in 2009. But now, Antico – a small cocktail bar inspired by Italian drinking culture – has landed in its place.
It’s the third opening from The Cuatro Group, joining boundary-pushing cocktail bars Death & Taxes and Dr Gimlette. Antico is a smaller, simpler venture for the team – local hospo stalwarts Martin and Wiebke Lange, and Blake and Belinda Ward – after Death & Taxes’ thousand-strong whisky list and Dr Gimlette’s Martini carts and bespoke service.
“This [bar] was the easiest one to come together because it was something that the four of us had been wanting to do for probably the entire time,” Wiebke (who, along with Martin, also runs West End cocktail bar Cobbler) tells Broadsheet.
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The menu showcases just eight cocktails – rotating every two weeks – with a “less is more” approach. The Blood and Skye, Antico’s take on a Blood and Sand, is made with blood orange sorbet and raspberry vermouth, while the One Million Dollars is a supercharged Millionaire Cocktail with the addition of fresh passionfruit and peach aperitif.
“We’re trying to stick to the classics,” Wiebke says, “focusing on seasonal fruits and what’s good in Queensland.”
The space is an homage to the hole-in-the-wall bars of Italy and New York, with subtle references to their other venues. The interior design reveals great attention to detail – tiny mosaic tiles in the flooring, vintage hanging lights, and a lavish black-marble bar top – but the focal point is the backbar of spirits, glowing on backlit tiered shelves. Nestle into a dark green booth or sit at the balcony bar overlooking the first floor and take advantage of the people-watching in this split-level space.
“We want to give people an experience like you’re not in Brisbane,” Wiebke says. “An escape from the city. An escape from everyday life.”