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.
The Mermaid Lounge, Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Petrie Terrace
From a grotto within Lefty’s, this bar-within-a-bar hidden by a plain door and found upstairs in the corner of the mezzanine level particularly resonates with rum smugglers, pirates and landed sailors.
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.
The Euro, Brisbane City
Through Spencer Laneway and up the stairs from fine dining Urbane Restaurant, all the interactive theatre of cocktails, wines and spirits comes to The Euro.
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.
Lennons Pool Terrace, Brisbane City
A pool overlooking Queen Street Mall. With a bar. Overlooking Queen Street Mall. Enough. Said.
Super Whatnot, Brisbane City
This small and dark laneway bar offers up comfy cushions, craft beer and select wines in a very cool industrial environment.
Dandy’s Rooftop, The Fox Hotel, South Brisbane
This rooftop backyard for all the inner urban kids is the ultimate recreational area replete with cocktails and spirits galore as the iconic cityscape forms a stunning backdrop.
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.
Eagles Nest Rooftop Bar, The Point, Kangaroo Point
A different perspective of the Story Bridge accompanies this rooftop bar serving up Moët Ice Imperial by the bucketload.
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.
Brooklyn Standard, Brisbane City
Find Eagle Lane and descend into the depths of this drinking ode to Bohemian dive bars and live music.
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.
Stingray Lounge, QT Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise
Pop art meets industrial charm in this Californian-inspired oasis where upmarket Gold Coast gather for work day liberation in the ultimate in drinking and eating treats.
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.