What are the best bars in Brisbane?

Maths B. It’s a painful Queensland high school subject full of algebra and equations and other nonsense which is useless to you unless you’re planning a career as a high school Maths B teacher. No-one has used Maths B in real life. I have engineer friends who design the plaques which go on the bridges that older, more-experienced senior engineers design, and they assure me that neither they, nor the people who actually build bridges use Maths B. Which is why I didn’t study Maths B. I studied dummy maths. In dummy maths I spent two years flirting with, and when Mr Day wasn’t looking, pashing, Ineke Kay, drawing pictures of guitars on pencil cases and using sceintific calculators to solve unscientific problems. Like how to do your tax return. I did my tax return the other day. I calculated depreciation on a WRX. I got a f***-tonne of money back from the Government. Dummy maths is awesome.

English, also, is awesome. I knew I was going to be good at English from a very early age because I could already read better than the grade three kids when I started kindy. I could read better than them because mum and dad wouldn’t let me watch He-Man on Saturday mornings because it was Satanic, so I had to get books out from the library and flip through them instead. Luckily they didn’t know about Judy Blume. I also knew I was going to be good at English because in grade four they put me in a special class with the grade five kids who wore thick-rimmed glasses (before they were such things as hipsters to make them cool) and every Thursday afternoon we went on excursions and talked to park rangers while the other kids who weren’t as good at English as us had to learn about vowels. That was awesome because, although I didn’t realise I was actually in an over-achieving Thursday afternoon nerd-group at the time, I was the least-nerdiest in the group, so I never got beaten up in the bus lines when we got back late from the beach, or the mayor’s office, or the box factory. Seeing at an early age where being good at English could take you, I vowed to always be good at English, no matter what. To be honest, it hasn’t paid off much, relatively speaking, in the years since. Getting out of school early to go on an excursion each Thursday has taken some beating in the grand scheme of awesomeness-relativity. But then, the other day, my faith was restored when Matty, the editor of a gourmet travel book thing called me up and we had the following conversation:

Matty: Hey Matt.

Me: Hey Matty.

Matty: You live in Brisbane, I need you write an article on the best bars in Brisbane for our Welcome To guide to Australia. It goes in all the luxury hotels. Tell me which bars you want to go to and I’ll let them know you’re coming and they’ll give you free drinks. I don’t need the article for a month or so, so there’s plenty of time, no tight deadline or anything like that, just do it at your leisure. They only need to be short reviews too, about 60 words each. Also, you need to go to classy bars, so spare no expense. Are you interested?

Me: No that doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in.

Matty: OK. That’s a joke isn’t it.

Me: Yes.

Matty: OK.

Me: I’m going to need to publish the bar reviews on my blog though. I did my own tax return this year and I claimed heaps of ‘staff entertainment’ expenses and if I get audited I’m screwed, so if I can say I did all this ‘research’ I might not go to jail just yet. Unless they look at my car depreciation expenses, which are so incorrect they may have messed up the space-time continuum. If they look at my car depreciation expenses, I may need you to post bail. Would you do that for me?

Matty: You should have done smart maths in high school. You’d be better at doing things like calculating depreciation.

Me: I know.

Matty: OK. The gourmet travel book thing doesn’t come out until January anyway so that’s OK, you can put the reviews on your blog.

Me: OK.


110 Macquarie St, Teneriffe
Ph: 07 3252 3911

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, a Spanish colony off the east coast of Africa. Admiral Horatio Nelson visited there briefly in 1797 and lost his arm when the Spanish Armada shot him with a cannon. If you happen to have only one arm, and enough time/money for only one drink in Brisbane, go to Teneriffe and order a ‘Madame Brussels’. It is your duty.

Limes Hotel

142 Constance Street, Fortitude Valley
Ph: 07 3852 9000

Cinderella would love this place. The divine wine list and starry rooftop view are enough to make you want to stay all night, which is handy, because if there are any rooms still available in this boutique hotel after the clock strikes 12, they’re offered up for only $99. The crowd is hot too; no ugly step sisters here.


Anne Street, Fortitude Valley
Ph: 07 3872 6600

If Darth Vader, Christian Dior, and Dr Livingstone walked into a bar, this would be it, I presume. If you can look past the neo-deco Deathstar façade you’ll find the most opulent place to sip lager in Brisbane. Beware though, of butterflies attempting to breach your sauvignon blanc.

Cru Bar

22 James St, New Farm
Ph: 07 3252 2400

Home to one of the best wine cellars in town, Cru Bar is the place to make wrinkly movements with your nose, tell your friends which side of the hill the grapes were grown on and then quickly change the subject before anyone knows you’re making it all up. It’s also a great place for a sunny late-afternoon bru.


71 Eagle Street, Brisbane
Ph: 07 3221 3887

Watch the stars rise over the Story Bridge and drink in one of the best views Brisbane city has to offer. The cocktails are heavenly, but the world-class Asian menu is the real drawcard, with more delightful creations than you can (delicately) poke a chopstick at.

Greystone Bar and Cellar

7/166 Grey Street, Southbank
Ph: 07 3846 6990

Southbank is home to a fake sandy beach that was popular in the 1990s, a former iMax theatre and some impressive, but fading cultural remnants of World Expo 88. If it all sounds a bit has-been that’s because it was. But now it’s hip again. So it’s OK. It’s also the perfect suburb to stash the kids while you work your way through Greystone’s impressive wine list – 150 varieties at last count.

Watt Restaurant and Bar

Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington St New Farm
Ph: 07 3358 5464

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, everyone in Brisbane is either picnicking in New Farm park, or watching everyone picnic in New Farm park from the riverside balcony of Watt. Frock up and then freak out with some free comedy in the renovated Power Station slash arts precinct upstairs.


188 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
Ph: You don’t need a phone number when you’re this cool

Hiding up the wrong end of Brunswick Street, AllOneWord is just a year old, but has quickly managed to find the style bar and set it high. The street-art décor is a real prize for the eyes, and the talented bar staff know their way around a martini glass.


123 Eagle St, Brisbane
Ph: 07 3832 2122

You could go there on another night of the week of course, but you’d be missing out on a Brisbane cultural institution. Loosen your tie, hide your heels in your handbag and drink in the river views with the CBD’s up-and-coming pretty young professionals.

Belgian Beer Café Brussels

Cnr Mary and Edward Streets, Brisbane
Ph: 07 3221 0199

Why do Queenslanders drink XXXX? Because they can’t spell B-E-E-R. Or so the pun unfolds. It’s a fallacy of course. The Belgian Beer Café Brussels is proof enough that Brisvegans love their bubbles. Book in for a beer-appreciation class and find out why.

The Bowery

676 Ann St, Fortitude Valley
Ph: 07 3252 0202

It hasn’t got the décor of Cloudland, or the decorum of Siana, but when you want to kick your heels up and party like it’s 1929, The Bowery swings better than any bar in Brisbane. It didn’t win Australian Gourmet Traveller awarded it 2009’s ‘Bar of the Year’ for being boring.

Lychee Lounge

94 Boundary Street, West End
Ph: 07 3846 0544

The Lychee Lounge prides itself as the jewel of West End, Brisbane’s thriving hub of alternative culture. And like it’s London namesake, this West End is a little bit of theatre unto itself. Drop your tastebuds, one-by-one, into one of the best cocktail menus in Queensland and watch the show go by on the streets outside. Watch out for angry vegans dizzy from a lack of protein though. They might suddenly snap and make you their next meal. Only kidding. Maybe.

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