Brisbane’s cocktail bars hold a hidden treasure trove of drinks to explore. It could be a preferred staff cocktail no longer on the menu, or maybe never even made it on. Perhaps you have to know where to sit to be eligible to order it. Perhaps you just need to ask. In partnership with World Class, we uncover some secrets of Brisbane’s best cocktail bars to try next time you’re out.
Off-menu cocktail: The Paper Plane
There’s no shortage of knowledge at Savile Row, and with 750 spirits in the back bar, there’s no shortage of choice, either. You’re welcome to take a seat at the bar and grill the team for secrets, or you could simply ask for a Paper Plane. It might not be on the menu, but bartender Jonte Highton tells us the Paper Plane remains a staff favourite. Made with Bulleit bourbon, bitter orange aperitif, Italian liqueur and served with a lemon twist, it’s an ideal aperitivo.
Off-menu cocktail: The Pavlova Martini
The cocktail list at this West End favourite received a slight touch-up under recent new owners, but one thing remains the same: The Pavlova Martini. It might be the venue’s most famous concoction – it has over 45,000 likes on a single photo on Facebook – but it’s still not on the menu.
Made with Ketel One vodka, strawberries, passionfruit, vanilla sugar and the bar’s own special liqueur, it sells so well it doesn’t need to be advertised. Topped off with a mini meringue, you can snuggle down in the Asian-inspired lounge and have it come to you. The Lychee Lounge’s table service means you need never move.
Off-menu cocktail: The Choke & Smoke
This twist on the classic Negroni is an old favourite, according to co-owner Katie Moubarak. “It’s no longer on the menu, but bartender Matt Trefene still has regulars requesting it.”
Made with two kinds of sherry, Italian bitter liqueur, and an orange twist, this is a sweet and smoky take on the Italian classic. Pair it with some small share plates from a food menu featuring more than 18 different types of salume (including the most prized of all, Jamon Iberico de Belotta). The bar also offers a range of cheeses, preserves, patés and terrines, as well as a wagyu cheeseburger that’s one of the most reliably great in town.
Off-menu cocktail: The Kung Fu Hustle
All cocktails are off-menu at Woolloongabba’s cosy, classy Canvas Club. So ask for the Kung Fu Hustle, which uses Tanqueray gin, lemongrass and Vietnamese mint to create a smooth, sweet drink that’s served over ice with a touch of chilli. Owner Daniel Rod says they change the cocktail list every season, but all though Kung Fu Hustle was initially created for summer, it remains in the bar’s Hall of Fame, in part due to the ease of its creation. “Simplicity is the key to brilliance,” Rodrigues says.
Off-menu cocktail location: The Drawing Room
“Rather than having a secret cocktail on our menu, we've decided to open a whole secret bar,” says Ryan Lane, General Manager of The Gresham.
That “secret bar” is The Drawing Room, located inside The Gresham. Echoing The Gresham’s trademark limestone walls, polished furniture and framed pictures, the new addition is another reminder the drinks are modern, but the building is not. “We made some adjustments to the back and installed a small one-man bar,” says Lane. Rumoured to have a cocktail menu that chronicles Queensland history through drinks, thirsty adventurers should look for the big red door.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with World Class Drinking.