Brisbane’s Best Hidden Bars For Cocktail Lovers
The Brisbane cocktail scene has always punched above its weight, but seek out a handful of hidden speakeasy haunts for something different.
If you haven’t noticed, Brisbane has a love affair with bars, especially those of the hidden variety. Brisbane cocktail bars have always punched well above their weight, but these speakeasy bars are bit special, some requiring passwords, secret handshakes, and special knocks to gain entry.
A number of hidden bars have opened in recent years, and it’s due to people looking for drinking experiences outside the norm. These are where to go when you’re looking for cocktail in Brisbane, away from the crowds.
Every night, hundreds of Fortitude Valley bar-goers would walk straight past a bright orange door on Ann Street, and not take any notice of it. Too bad because it’s the gateway to one of Brisbane’s best new bars.
Savile Row is co-owned by Martin Lange (who also co-owns Cobbler), Trent Goodwin, and Kahn Millis, who named the bar after the Mayfair street known for its traditional bespoke tailoring.
Once you step inside, your eyes are drawn to a back-bar containing over 750 spirits. A large chandelier hangs overhead, highlighting the large range of whiskies, gins, rums and tequilas on offer. The cocktail menu (with matching illustrations) is relatively short but the bartenders are more than happy to create a cocktail for you depending on the flavour profile you feel like. There’s also a couple of beers on tap, and a selection of white and red wine.
667 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
Legends Speakeasy Bar
With no physical address (only longitude and latitude coordinates) and a password lock on the door, Legends Speakeasy Bar is Brisbane’s ultimate hidden bar.
Opened by Indian-expat Bharath Raj earlier this year, Legends is based on a traditional speakeasy bar.
“In America in the 1920s, consuming alcohol and selling alcohol was illegal,” says Raj. “But people still used to drink and that’s [how] speakeasy bars came about.”
While the experience of finding Legends will get you hooked in the first place, Raj says it’s their old-school hospitality approach that will keep you coming back.
“After the first experience of novelty, everything falls back to the hospitality, like how we treat [our guests] and their experience in the bar,” says Raj. “All we are trying to do is bring that 60s/70s bar culture of knowing who our guests are and what they are drinking, back into this era.”
Legends offers a selection of classic cocktails, as well as specialty cocktails, including the Steam Punk Old-Fashioned. Made with whisky, maple and orange bitters, the drink is smoked with applewood in front of the customer.
“It’s not for everyone,” Raj admits. “[But] it gives everyone an exclusive feeling and our crowd inside is really civilised because it’s not just another drink bar. To get in there takes a bit of effort.”
-27.469738, 153.021169, Brisbane City
The Walrus Club
One of Brisbane’s original speakeasy bars, The Walrus Club, is hidden behind the Regatta in Toowong, and serves up prohibition cocktails with a focus on whisky. The dark drinking den has an intimate feel, ideal for sipping on a perfectly-crafted Manhattan and old fashioned.
Expect more than 300 premium spirits to choose from, including limited edition and hard-to-find pours, as well as seasonal cocktails and house-spiced rum.
543 Coronation Dr, Toowong
Down a CBD alleyway and behind an inconspicuous door, is Brooklyn Standard, one of the city’s best live music venues.
Decked-out with American paraphernalia, the dark, moody bar offers a large selection of beer (including plenty of American options), a decent selection of wine and classic cocktails. In true American fashion, complimentary bowls of salted pretzels come with drinks.
Eagle Lane, Brisbane City
Smack bang in the middle of Fortitude Valley, hides an American-themed underground bar called Greaser. Punters first have to find a red door, before following a back alley past the bar’s kitchen, into the grungy den.
The bar menu features all the American classics – think fried chicken, loaded fries and burgers (complete with the Star-Spangled Banner on top).
The drink menu follows suit with a number of American craft beers, as well as artisan cocktails.
259 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
The Cloakroom Bar
The Cloakroom Bar comes from the same guys behind The Cloakroom, a bespoke suiting service in the city. Planned to open in the coming few weeks, the bar will be located down a side-alley next to The Cloakroom, past a gate and up through the stairs of a fire escape. The stairs will lead to an office room with a door leading into the bar.
The bar will not have a cocktail menu. Once seated, a bartender will bring out a palate cleanser and chat to you about the kind of drink you would like. Shortly after, a bespoke cocktail will be deliver to your seat.
The concept has already proven popular at the Maison Cloakroom, The Cloakroom’s Montreal sibling which opened in 2014.
1/215 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane City
(Lead image: Cocktail action at Legends Speakeasy Bar)
Published 27 September, 2017