Milton might be the unofficial beer capital of Brisbane, but in the shadow of the giant XXXX factory and just up the road from Newstead Brewing Co, another type of tipple is fermenting. That'd be rum, courtesy of Castlemaine Street watering hole The Malecón. As well as serving up plenty of it thanks to the 100-plus bottles lining its walls, the craft spirit and cocktail bar also turns sugarcane byproducts into booze onsite.
"We're the only microdistillery in inner-city Brisbane," says manager Jim O'Sullivan of the intimate venue, which is owned by The Bearded Chap's Luke Swenson with Kettle & Tin's Aaron Boardman and Jason Harrison. The Malecón isn't pumping out its own alcoholic concoctions just yet; however, rum-lovers can expect to drop by for a few custom spirits from around late May, pending the appropriate approvals.
At present, patrons are greeted by 105 different types of rum on the bar's shelves — showcasing international varieties, types that you don't always see in Australia and brands that are hard to find — but eventually that number will get closer to 150 or even 200. Rum cocktails are also on offer, think daiquiris, piña coladas, the Malecón Treacle (with rum, some more rum and apple) and the Malecón Zombie (a house rum-blend with citrus, passionfruit, pineapple, orgeat spice and grenadine). And, a small selection of beer and wine is available as well.
What visitors won't find on the menu is something to eat, with this a beverage-only establishment. That said, you can order UberEats to the venue, and regular Sunday-afternoon special events will bring food trucks to The Malecón's door.
Overall, it's the kind of place that folks can head to dressed up to the nines on a Saturday night or drop by mid-week for a few drinks over a live jazz soundtrack. That relaxed atmosphere is by design, with The Malecón aiming to give Brisbane a cruisy, boozy hangout dedicated to a spirit that doesn't always get its time to shine.
As for the name, it comes from an seven-kilometre esplanade, roadway and seawall in Havana. If you saw last year's The Fate and the Furious, you would've spotted it, actually. "The guys took inspiration from Havana in terms of the decor and vibe," explains O'Sullivan, which can be seen in its Cuban-style old world-style furnishings, filling out a space that can fit 100 people standing but better caters to 65 to 70. "But primarily we're a craft spirit and cocktail bar with a microdistillery attached."