The labyrinth laneways, avenues, rooftops and suburbs of Brisbane and the Gold Coast are home to fine drinking establishments for our local legends and luminaries. With the launch of Eleven Rooftop Bar this week, MyCityLife was inspired to reflect on the secretive waterholes tucked away, above or below, or those hiding in plain sight. Our feature to Our Top Hidden Bars abandons the obvious, searching the basements, back rooms, underground depths and tops of highrises for South East Queensland’s standouts. Now, let’s just keep these private bounties between us and the internets, ok?
CASUAL, LAIDBACK & OH-SO-CHILLED Queensland, the land of easygoing, down home and unfussy. If being studiously laidback is toute-la-mode, then these out-of-the-way spots are the height of devil-may-care.
Brew Café + Bar, Brisbane City Melbourne came to Brisbane when this space pioneered Brisbane’s laneway culture on Lower Burnett Lane. Live music frequently accompanies the cheerful bar within Brew’s dark digs.
Fat Louie’s, Brisbane City Upstairs off busy Albert Street, seek 90% Vodka and/or Saké neat, snooker, private karaoke rooms daubed in a layer of cool smut. A prescription for awesome.
John Mills Himself, Brisbane City Café by day, bar by night, the drive under the ATO building leads to this small brick space featuring a piano and marble-topped bar delivering a selective yet potent list of cocktails.
Greaser Bar, Fortitude Valley Under the streets of Fortitude Valley and through a route of urban graff, concrete walls and a kitchen, find specialty boilermaker and burger bar Greaser, also serving up a side of the best rock n roll and vintage RnB this part of Brunswick Street.
Kerbside, Fortitude Valley This laneway bar takes street-cool to a whole new level, distinguished by an extensive craft beer range, embellished by their fresh air, graffitied walls, a top selection of top shelf spirits and a refreshing playlist.
Can You Keep A Secret, Woolloongabba Drink back in time with this idiosyncratic vintage dive bar that feels comfortably like nana’s lounge complete with all the fixings, as home to the chilled of ‘Gabba personalities.
Southside Tea Room, Morningside Inspired by the Teahouses of Brooklyn and the pioneer of Brisbane’s love affair with dive bars, this drinking space is an exploration into nostalgia with attention to unconventional decor. From the pinball machine to retro baubles, vintage couches and coloured brocade rugs, settle back and enjoy this tribute to easy going socialising with quirky treats and late night drinks where the wines have unorthodox names to appeal to your schmaltzy side, a retro cocktail menu and craft beer on tap ready for service.
Black Coffee Lyrics, Surfers Paradise Down the laneway of Surfers Paradise Boulevard overlooking the arcade, a singing barrister treats the senses to opera tunes, specialty coffee, tapas, degustation dinners, craft beers and boutique wines, all within a quirky décor.
Pigs & Pints, Burleigh Heads Innocently sitting on the Gold Coast Highway, drive by, blink and miss this tribute to craft beers and sliders.
Bread & Butter, Kirra Upstairs from Musgrave Street, a firm nostalgic hold of the classics with tapas, cocktails and vinyl DJs on the weekends is the mainstay of this lounge and restaurant overlooking pristine Kirra Beach.
UPMARKET & SLEEK Good looking and so refined, these spots are specifically for the suave. Match tailored garments to plenty of altitude.
Glamour Bar, Friday’s Riverside, Brisbane CityFeaturing lightly burnished hardwoods with a feature wall of split slate and a sense of style, this hidden oasis is another bar-within-a-bar specifically catering to cocktails with CBD flair and sophistication.
Grape Therapy & Wine Merchants Den, Brisbane City Down Macrossan Street and a flight of stairs, a subterranean den of chesterfields and drinking awaits. On Fridays, a DJ playing classic crooners lubricates glasses of the finest grape drops matched to cheese and charcuterie platters.
Marker, Fish Lane, South Brisbane Hidden down a lane in the back of South Brisbane, this unembellished space is a blink-and-you’lll-miss-it affair where the cocktail menu is driven by local spirits and seasonal produce alongside varieties of Aussie and international beers and wines, beautifully served up in bespoke glasses with floating ice spheres.
Soleil Pool Bar, Rydges South Bank With commanding views of a high-flown cityscape, relax poolside with Moët by the glass and Dom Pérignon by the bottle and beers, wine and spirits of every hue.
Eleven Rooftop Bar, Fortitude Valley Slate, woods and Balinese-reminiscent interiors that are simultaneously upmarket and chic sit atop 757 Ann Street. At eleven stories high and soaring over Queensland’s #1 entertainment precinct, the décor coupled with an extensive cocktail list encourages a high-flown state of mind. Get lost amongst the 270-degree views, from the Story Bridge to Brisbane Airport and beyond.
Up On Constance, Fortitude Valley Escape amongst the eaves of the Valley’s high-rises, where street culture and style coalesces into this rooftop bar as a tribute to understated elegance and signature cocktails.
Limes Hotel Rooftop Bar, Fortitude Valley Limes puts the Vegas into BrisVegas with this devilish hideaway of eternal sunshine and sultry nights. Brisbane’s pioneer to rooftop drinkery, Limes has paved the way for bombastic alfresco lifestyle.
Cocoon Lounge Bar Dining, Surfers Paradise Gold Coast bling and ultra cool merge in this aloof and lush lounge bar off-the-tourist-beaten track at the river end of Cavill Avenue. Deep house DJs, premium cocktails, spirits and wine bring Ibiza and Miami to the back waterways of Surfers Paradise.
A DESTINATION ESCAPE These local haunts are a destination, known in their own right for their sense of style, unique settings and just having that wow factor.
Sonny’s House of Blues, Brisbane City Flashback to the 1980s, with this LA-inspired dive bar hidden off Rowes Lane featuring reggae and rock n roll that holds a helluva lot of personality, live music and plenty of backstories.
Elixir Rooftop Bar, Fortitude Valley An oasis set within the Valley’s urban composition and far from the madding nightclub crowd, this open-air elevated bar is perfect for a neon reverie. Premium underground DJs spin a fitting soundtrack for this utopian ambiance of cocktails, candles and lush wellspring soaring above the concrete jungle.
Prohibition Brisbane, Fortitude Valley Sophisticated drinking culture is showcased in illicit subterranean spaces with a grand descent into this tribute to the Speakeasy culture. The Prohibition era of the 1920s is reimagined, fusing vintage classic to contemporary innovation utilising premium recycled materials with a gramophone feature from the DJ booth.
Heya Bar, Fortitude Valley Escape the hubbub of Brunswick Street into an underground labyrinth of bars, where the streets of Bangkok come to the heart of the Valley. It’s a forte of pleasure spaces with a pool table, pinball, a small-scale band hall, Street Eats kitchen and choice of four distinctive watering holes.
Fever, Fortitude Valley A slice of the Berlin action comes underground to a bunker off Constance Street where the soundtrack of German’s capital city drenches this side of the Valley. House and techno is topped by Belvedere hedonism and a ceiling composed of 35,000 LED lights from this disco dugout.
TBC Club, The Flying Cock, Fortitude Valley This grotto beneath The Cock is a wellspring to premium underground sounds as a mint destination for lovers of lush prog, house, techno and nu-disco. Raw and raving, this den is a harbour in all its silliness and occasional nobility.
Chalet Bar, Alliance Hotel, Spring Hill Inspired by the après ski culture, the depths of this underground bar off Boundary Street presents red soaked brick walls, a clean-burning fireplace, candlelight, and chesterfield lounges as an enclosed space decked out in abundance.
Farrier’s Bar & Supperclub, New Farm This late night supperclub presents a whole new level of dining and drinking sophistication with hidden nooks and underground ambiance enclosed by low ceilings, rustic sandstock brickwalls and warm tones of woods with the bar and supper areas. A nod to its history as an old horse stable, the black stable door is a fascinating entrance to draw in the crowd from upper Arthur Street to the depths below.
Walrus Club, Toowong The pioneer to the modern Speakeasy and Brisbane’s lingering fascination with jam jar cocktails, a hidden staircase behind The Regatta leads to a rabbit warren of darkened rooms and exposed brick walls whispering with the shadows of Hemingway and Chaplin, where a thirst for dark spirits and spots are justified.
Elsewhere, Surfers Paradise Walk right by and miss it, the industrial feel of Elsewhere – complete with flashing-light dancefloor – is dedicated to the underground music, culture and lifestyle of Europe. The Wine Barrel, Mudgeereeba The back streets of Mudgereeba on the Gold Coast brings us to a rustic lounge and wine bar where this surprising space is a drinking and foodie destination.