BRISBANE'S BEST NEW BARS OF 2018
The city's very best boozy additions of the year.
From moonlit rooftops to moody underground dens, Brisbane almost has it all when it comes to bars. But this hasn't stopped a horde of new and inventive ones from opening this year. A adults-only arcade bar pairing vintage prizes with alcoholic bubble teas, a specialty gin bar in a food truck bark and the city's only inner-city microdistillery with over 100 rums. This year's newbies are nothing if not diverse.
At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Brisbane to be a better, braver city. So, these six new bars were nominated for Best New Bar in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards. You can check out all the winners here.
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. As well as the bar’s own tipples — including an aperitif made from organic waste — patrons are greeted by 105 different types of rum on the bar’s shelves. 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. 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.
Words: Sarah Ward. Image: Grace Smith.
South Bank added another attraction to its list this year: its first rooftop hangout accessible every day of the week. Located on the 21st floor of Grey Street’s Emporium Hotel and open from breakfast onwards, The Terrace boasts an all-day dining menu, plus plenty of drinks. It also features luxe surroundings and one hell of a panoramic view over the river, South Bank and across to the CBD. Under the guidance of executive chef Chris Norman, the food menu takes care of all the usual daily meals, including brekkie, brunch, lunch, dinner, late-night snacks and everything in-between. The beverage list features classic and signature cocktails, as well as local and international wines and spirits. Of course, if you’re taking the elevator up to sky-high surroundings, then you’re just as interested in the decor and vantage. Design-wise, the look is unsurprisingly opulent — think light colours, walls filled with greenery, white backlit onyx floor tiles and a 13-metre bar made out of the same material. Date palms add to the tropical vibe, while floor-to-ceiling glass doors open out onto the balcony.
Words: Sarah Ward.
The sandstone building on the corner of George and Elizabeth streets has been home to many things over the years, including Queensland’s first radio station, government departments, offices, cafes and a bank. It’s now the site of a luxe underground bar and a new Chinese restaurant, called the Boom Boom Room and Donna Chang. Head down to the basement of the heritage-listed art deco building to find the former, which can accommodate 250 people in its decadent bunker-like surroundings. If you’re feeling ultra fancy, the space also includes private rooms in old bank vaults. Decked out in deep reds, blues and blacks with old-school furniture and lighting, the bar boasts booth seating aplenty, and will play host to jazz and Motown-esque performances. Music also inspires the changing wine, spirits and cocktail list, as thirsty punters will notice in the names of the latter. Plus, bottle service is one of the venue’s opulent touches — and, if you’re feeling peckish, you can order a snack from a from a shorter version of Donna Chang’s menu.
Words: Sarah Ward.
Bars where you can do more than just sit around and drink are really having a moment in Brisbane, and specifically in Fortitude Valley. And one of its latest additions is B. Lucky & Sons. From the team behind Holey Moley, it’s a kidult-friendly bar-meets-arcade located in the Valley’s TCB Building — and it’s hidden behind the facade of an old pawn shop. Like its Melbourne counterpart, the venue is also decked out with eclectic furnishings, from old-world casino chandeliers to neon-lit red octagonal booths. This East-meets-West fit-out extends to the food, where pizzas are topped with the likes of crispy wonton wrappers and bonito flakes or sausage, gravy and potato crisps. For drinks, the bar slings canned cocktails, alcoholic bubble teas and other creative concoctions — like Taro Bang (Frangelico, rum and taro with blueberry pearls and jellies) and the Passion Crackle (vodka, passion fruit and peach teas with apple flavoured pearls and jellies). The bar’s games are clear throwbacks for the millennial generation — featuring everything from Mario Kart and Daytona to NBA Hoops.
Words: Libby Curran. Image: Zennieshia Photography.
It can be pretty thirsty work navigating the bountiful rotation of food vendors at Welcome To Bowen Hills. So, it’s very handy that the new food truck park has its own permanent on-site gin bar, where you can settle in with a cool glass of something and rest those feet. Fittingly dubbed Swill, the venue boasts an impressive collection of around 115 gins, sourced from across Australia and the globe. You’ll spy drops from the likes of Kyneton’s Anemis Ambrosian, Healesville’s Four Pillars and Brunswick’s Patient Wolf, to name just a few. If gin’s not your thing, fear not — there’s also a solid rotation of craft beers on the taps, as well as a lineup of crafty cocktails. Open Thursday through Sunday, the bar’s got room for about 150 thirsty punters, boasting a great mix of indoor and outdoor spaces. A comfortable industrial fit-out comes courtesy of the team at Derlot. Think, soaring ceilings, moody lighting and luxurious booths that were simply made for kicking back with a post-burger gin & tonic.
Words: Libby Curran.
You should never be too far away from German beer, huge plates of pork and salty pretzels — or that seems to be Brisbane’s new motto, at least. Just weeks after Munich Brauhaus opened its doors in South Bank, and a year after The Bavarian set up shop in Chermside, the city welcomed another huge Deutsch-themed haunt: the Bavarian Beerhaüs in the King Street precinct. The 350-seat beer hall boasts 40 beer taps pumping out a range of German draught beers, which the venue claims is the largest selection in Queensland. A selection of Australian craft beers is also on offer for those sipping brews in the 150-seat beer garden — or thirsty patrons can opt for a sizeable range of schnapps, espresso martinis on tap or frozen margaritas. Food-wise, there are two components to the menu. Firstly, German-style dishes such as pork knuckle, pork belly, schnitzels, sausages and shared meat platters feature heavily, alongside barbecue fare like coffee-spice rubbed pork ribs and spice-rubbed wagyu. If it’s something Ekka-style that you’re after, however, then tuck into dagwood dogs, chicken wings, hot dogs, loaded fries and even a strawberry sundae.
Words: Sarah Ward.
Top image: Swill.