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Ten Standout New Brisbane Bars That Started Pouring Drinks in 2023

When 2023 wasn't gifting Brisbane a new Italian-style cocktail spot, it was serving up a tequileria with a hefty agave and mezcal range, then a 'Gatsby'-themed lounge bar.
By Sarah Ward
December 13, 2023
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By Sarah Ward
December 13, 2023
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TEN STANDOUT NEW BRISBANE BARS THAT STARTED POURING DRINKS IN 2023

When 2023 wasn't gifting Brisbane a new Italian-style cocktail spot, it was serving up a tequileria with a hefty agave and mezcal range, then a 'Gatsby'-themed lounge bar.

Whatever you have to say cheers to, there's a place in Brisbane to do it. If you're keen to clink glasses somewhere that you've never sipped before, the River City keeps adding new bars in beloved digs that were once other drinking spots, in old warehouses, by revitalising heritage-listed favourites, cascading down to the water and even cruising on it.

So, it's time to make like Santa. We've created the list; now you can get ticking. 'Tis the season not only to get merry over cocktails with a view, brews in a sunny beer garden or vino in a dedicated neighbourhood wine joint, but to check out ten bars that first opened their doors in 2023 and left an impression.

  • 10

    First came Death & Taxes, complete with a hefty focus on whisky. Next arrived Dr Gimlette, with table service in one of the River City’s oldest buildings. The latest: Antico, this time riffing on Italian cocktail bars. You’ll be heading to familiar roadway to get sipping, with Antico located in Burnett Lane, where Death & Taxes also sits. After Super Whatnot closed its doors earlier in 2023, Cuatro Group took over the space, opening the crew’s most-intimate venture yet.

    The team’s third spot is a 50-seater that, like its other watering holes, is big on atmosphere. Think: moody lighting including candles and an eye-catching gold chandelier, leather booths and a black-and-gold marble bar top. Antico pours classic cocktails, rotating through ten different varieties every two months. Whatever’s on the drinks lineup, it’ll always feature the bar’s own twists on well-known concoctions using fresh ingredients sourced locally from across Brisbane. And, a signature negroni is a mainstay as well.

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  • 9

    Were Daniel and Amelia Miletic always destined to set up shop in South Brisbane’s Fish Lane? As the owners of fish ‘n’ chippery One Fish Two Fish in Kangaroo Point, they’re certainly keeping the ocean theme going. Midtown, their newest venture, isn’t just about dishes from the sea, though. What the Miletics have dubbed “seacuterie” is on the menu, plus mini versions of One Fish Two Fish’s lobster croissants; however, this is venue is a martini bar.

    Midtown takes over an already-luxe space: the site previously home to Butler Wine Bar, Lune Croissanterie‘s boozy sibling, which launched in July 2022 but closed in March 2023. Loving martinis is the number-one thing on offer at Midtown, with nine set alcoholic types available, such as olive leaf, elderflower, apple and rhubarb, espresso and pornstar varieties. There’s actually a tenth option, too, that lets you tell the bar how to make it your way — so anything is possible. And if you’re having trouble choosing, that’s where the three-drink flights come in.

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  • 8

    When Babylon Brisbane opened its doors at the end of 2022, it didn’t just mark the first Sunshine State outpost for the eatery that’s been serving up dishes and drinks in Sydney since 2019. It also saw 145 Eagle Street gain the first of two new venues, the second of which is 2023 arrival Babylon Garden. This 500-person, 645-square-metre waterfront bar lets you spend your afternoon or evening right by the water on two tiers of terraces, sipping beverages in the open air.

    You’ll sit at green marble tabletops at high and low tables, and your drinks will come from a ten-metre brass bar. On the menu amid the greenery, and while soaking in the fresh air: Middle Eastern and East Mediterranean bites and cocktails. Drinks-wise, the range of beers on tap and by the bottle heroes brews from around the world, as does the hefty wine list. With bubbles, the focus unsurprisingly falls heavily on French champagne.

    Image: Markus Ravik.

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  • 7

    When it came to naming Range Brewing‘s latest beer-drinking venue, inspiration arrived from an easy source. As its moniker makes plain, Patio is all about enjoying a drink while sitting out on its namesake. And to help, it comes complete with a leafy, sunny beer garden that makes the most of Brisbane’s usually warm weather. Range’s latest venture has settled into the Rosalie space that Moga Izakaya & Sushi previously called home, giving it a revamp and leaning on Aussie pub vibes. On Baroona Road in the former suburb-turned-Paddington locality, the neighbourhood craft beer, wine and cocktail bar has turned an eye-catching brick building into an Aussie pub-influenced watering hole.

    And yes, to make the most of the weather, the focus is on al fresco experiences — including in that beer garden, which also features a fairy light-lit tree in the middle of the courtyard. Patrons will find both a layout and fitout that pays tribute to the corner bar and the front bar of old pubs, with Melbourne drinking spots an influence.

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  • 6
    The Aviary Terrace Bar in Brisbane's Queen Street.

    When Good Chef Bad Chef and Richo’s Bar Snacks chef Adrian Richardson, ex-Cha Cha Char restaurateur Chris Higgins and lawyer Liam McMahon teamed up on BŌS, a 120-seater restaurant that adores meat so much that it has its own ‘Cleaver Club’, it promised Brisbane more than just a meal. The Queen Street spot opened in late 2022, with a sibling bar always in the works as well. Then, from August 2023, cocktail hangout The Aviary Terrace Bar started pouring. Like BŌS, you’ll find this watering hole opposite Customs House, in Otto Ristorante‘s old Dexus Tower digs — but making the most of an 800-square-metre al fresco space.

    Before, after or instead of a hearty lunch or dinner, Brisbanites can hit up The Aviary Terrace Bar for drinks and bites. A sunny openair spot with Brisbane River, Story Bridge and city views awaits — and a place with a curated range of tipples, including cocktails, craft beer, wine and champagne, plus light snacks.

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  • 5

    Head to GPO‘s new 1920s-themed lounge bar, which is fittingly called The Gatsby, and you won’t be able to miss the venue’s old vault. It’s a reminder of the distinctive building’s history, with the structure starting its life back in 1887 as the Fortitude Valley General Post Office. It’s also a symbol of GPO’s reopening, which feels like reclaiming an iconic Brisbane location after a stint of safekeeping — or, to be more accurate, following the 136-year-old site’s hefty $9-million revamp.

    The Gatsby is a late-night, walk-in-only cocktail and whisky bar on the building’s upper level. The mood here is lavish and upscale, as the name makes plain, including velvet booths, leather accents and brass features as part of the design. As well as featuring the building’s original, now-restored vault, The Gatsby soundtracks the sipping with DJs and a live saxophonist. Also, as demonstrated by the 74-page menu, the bar well and truly prides itself on its drinks.

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  • 4

    It’s a shot favourite with lemon and salt. There’s a surf instrumental track that shares its name. Just thinking about it likely gets the early-90s hip hop cover of that tune stuck in your head. Although it’s a famous spirit, tequila isn’t always the best-appreciated tipple. Head to Carmen, James Street’s Mexican bar and eatery, however, and the latter might change.

    This 80-seater tequileria from Potentia Solutions Leisure (Lina, Soko) is an eatery, bar and lounge in one, but tequila- and agave-heavy drinks take pride of place on the menu. In addition to cocktails, plus a hefty list of tequila and agave in general — including a focus on small-batch mezcals — Carmen boasts Coronas, naturally, plus a premium wine list ready for the swilling. Australian vinos get ample attention, as do New Zealand, French and Italian drops.

    Image: Fortem Media.

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  • 3

    The space at 22 Wyandra Street in Newstead was never going to stay closed for long. When Carl’s Bar and Bistro shut its doors at the address in September 2022, the City Winery crew got busy filling the venue with new ventures. First came a seasonal bar and bottle shop over last year’s holiday period, and now Ardo’s has made the spot its own for the long haul. And, it’s growing — 2023 brought not just one Ardo’s in Newstead, but a second in Graceville and a third in Hawthorne.

    Ardo’s is a neighbourhood wine bar and bottle shop, so patrons can peruse its curated range of vino while getting sipping onsite over pintxos, cheese and charcuterie — or pick up their favourite tipple or a new discovery to take away. Offering a selection that you wouldn’t just find at any bottle-o is a big source of pride, with Ardo’s staff on-hand to chat you through its drops, help you make a pick and impart their expert knowledge.

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  • 2

    Before Rhys Pike and Sean Astill opened Future Magic Brewing Co, Manilla Street in East Brisbane was already home to a brewery thanks to the Gold Coast-born Black Hops’ Brisbane taproom. For many, setting up shop opposite another beer joint might’ve been cause for second thoughts, but not for this duo. Valuing community — cultivating Future Magic’s own via crowdfunding, and celebrating the community it has joined in its new abode — is one of their guiding principles.

    Future Magic has made the industrial brick Manilla Street warehouse — the home of a former packaging supplies company — its base and taproom. Befitting the site’s former occupant, the brewery slings pizzas made in-house, but the main drawcard is the beer pumping through 12 taps. That includes its own brews, complete with a mango and passionfruit sour; a Thriller in Manilla Hazy IPA collaboration with Black Hops; and two ciders and a wine list from Witches Falls Winery as well.

    Image: Rhys Pike.

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  • 1

    Brisbane will never get tired of finding things to do near, around, in or on its very own river, including hitting up overwater bars and hiring picnic boats. If there’s one thing that the Sunshine State capital particularly loves when it comes to the Old Brown Snake, however, it’s party vessels cruising down the waterway while pairing views, tunes and drinks. Now floating out of the City Botanic Gardens River Hub each weekend, Oasis is the latest — and your new excuse to temporarily say goodbye to dry land.

    Oasis follows in The Island, Seadeck and Yot Club‘s slipstream. For this stint of ditching the shore for a watery jaunt, Brisbanites can hop onboard a $10-million steel-hull catamaran. And the soundtrack? It comes via DJ-backed gatherings by both day and night. This vessel isn’t small, stretching to 35 metres in length and accommodating 500 people across three levels. And, it’s sticking around permanently, rather than cruising in and out seasonally.

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