The Best Cocktail Bars in Brisbane

Updated 3 days ago

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The best cocktail bars are more reminiscent of kitchens. Menus can change weekly depending on the availability of ingredients, experimentation is encouraged and good knife skills are a given. These are our favourites in Brisbane, from casual after-work spots to slick venues where the Martinis are whisked to your table on a roving cart. Without fail, they all know how to make an excellent drink.

  • Whether you plan to hit Gerard’s Bistro or not, its polished little spin-off next door is well worth your attention. Pull up at the long concrete bar for tapas, charcuterie and some of the city’s finest mixed drinks. There’s also a front deck that’s unbeatable on fine days.

  • This heritage-listed boozer has a tight menu of tweaked classics and house creations, and 200-plus whiskies amassed behind the bar. Elegant limestone walls and old-timey framed pictures are a subtle reminder this building’s been standing strong since 1885.

  • Situated on Brisbane’s oldest laneway, Death & Taxes’ lengthy list of cocktails draws on its 600-bottle spirit collection. The heritage back area feels less like a bar and more like an opulent art gallery, with century-old floors and classy design flourishes. It’s the perfect place to linger on a dirty Martini.

  • A boundary-pushing cocktail bar from the team behind Death & Taxes. It takes service to a whole new level, with roving Martini carts delivering expertly made seasonal drinks to luxurious leather booths.

  • A splash of gin goes a long way when you need to pluck up a bit of Dutch courage. With more than 150 bottles of the stuff – distinguished by menu headings such as citrus, floral and spice – you’ll be ready to take on the world after a tipple here. The Southside, London Calling and French 75 are all classic orders.

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  • Inspired by the vibrant nightlife of Tel Aviv, this ambitious bar is all about smoked drinks, Turkish Coffee Martinis and a menu of late-night vegetarian mezze. Also, vinyl – lots of vinyl. Find it at the base of the Ovolo Hotel in the Valley.

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  • Seasonal flavours and left-field ingredients (artichoke, marjoram shrub, coffee oil) make for one of the city’s most exciting cocktail experiences. This place is tucked down a laneway and has a striking brass bar which commands the otherwise entirely black space.

  • The sliding ladder behind the bar – combined with the regal, rum-coloured furniture – might give off the impression you’re in a library of spirits. Actually, you’re in one of the best whiskey bars in town, with a menu of stiff (and dangerously drinkable) house creations to match.

  • Behind the bright orange door of this former butcher’s shop, you’ll find the sibling venue to Cobbler in West End. Expect a similarly extensive range of brown liquor, along with roughly 20 cocktails and a moody speakeasy vibe. We can’t get enough of that ornate chandelier.

  • Lo-fi wines, smooth beats and a menu by an ex-Gerard’s Bistro executive chef. The spiritual successor to one of Brisbane’s favourite bars – inside the old Wandering Cooks space – is a win for West End.

  • From the crew behind Cobbler and Savile Row, this intimate bar channels the roaring ’20s with its long leather couches, parquet floors and undeniable panache when it comes to mixing the classics. Wines, charcuterie and plenty of cocktails lie within.

  • Situated within Woolloongabba’s antique shopping precinct, this vintage-style bar has a cracking list of seasonal cocktails – with rock’n’roll names like The Velvet Underground and Under Pressure. Also, a globetrotting menu of tapas and share plates.

  • Behind an assuming shopfront, this clandestine cocktail lounge is inspired by the hidden, music-driven boozers found throughout South America. Rotating, rum-heavy drinks are the specialty, plus there's a short menu of snacks courtesy of the Canvas Club next door.

  • While rooftop bar Eleven takes a break, we have this Mexican pop-up. There's ninety seats, a local-produce driven menu and a shedload of tequila, all set to those jaw-dropping views.

  • A rooftop oasis with splendid views across Fortitude Valley and the CBD. Come for Italian-leaning small plates and cocktails designed by Sydney's Maybe Sammy – one of the world's best bars.

  • The suave sibling to cocktail bar Mrs Brown’s is housed inside two World War II-era hangers in one of Brisbane’s most buzzing suburbs. Inside you’ll find a lofty arched glasshouse, 35 cocktails and a cuisine-crossing menu of snacks and share plates.

  • A team of bartending veterans is behind this approachable cocktail den, mixing an imaginative signature drinks list alongside comforting eats by Alba Bar & Deli a few blocks over. It’s all housed behind a heritage brick-and-timber facade in the city centre.

  • An octagonal, overwater stunner with a fresh-seafood slant and an enviable view. Built over the river directly under the Story Bridge, this cocktail bar and diner is the centrepiece of Howard Smith Wharves. And when it comes to cocktails, this place excels at spritzes and fruity takes on classic drinks, from kiwi sours to spicy watermelon Margaritas.

  • A Palm Springs-inspired gin bar and pocket distillery flanked by six-metre palm trees. This 60-seat open air oasis highlights gins from Aussie gins by 79 Degrees and Seven Seasons. To eat, it's gin-friendly share plates and tacos by Los Felix.

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