Brisbane's best bars
On the fringes of the Valley, Alfred & Constance (130 Constance St, Fortitude Valley, 07 3251 6500) has generously poured three different options onto the scene into a gorgeously refitted pair of old houses. Visit A&C's Vanguard Beer Garden for wood-fired goodness (hello, roast pork on rolls) with cool libations, trip upstairs to the White Lightning Tiki Bar, where a spin of the chocolate-wheel instantly solves any drink-related indecision (rye and Gosling, anyone?), or back downstairs to the black-tiled Air Raid Shelter. Or, better yet, take a tour of all three for a bar-crawl all under the one roof.
The other biggest news in town has been the arrival of Lefty's Old Time Music Hall, (15-17 Caxton St, Paddington), which has so far proven to be a worthy next venture for co-owners Jamie Webb of Cabiria Luncheonette & Oyster Bar (6, The Barracks, 61 Petrie Tce, Paddington, 07 3368 2666), and Jason Scott of Sydney's Shady Pines and The Baxter Inn. As befits a venue from a Shady Pines co-founder, Lefty's has whiskey galore, plenty of beer (exotic and otherwise), no shortage of seating, some fairly wild taxidermy and a brilliantly crafted playlist that's got both country and Western. A short, Americana-influenced menu provides much-needed ballast in the form of catfish po' boy sandwiches, onion rings and the like.
The Walrus Club (Regatta Hotel, 543 Coronation Dr, Toowong, 07 3871 9595), another of the newer bars in the city, is a rum-focused stone cellar secreted behind the revamped Regatta. More rum - about 400 different kinds, at that - plus Bundaberg "off-the-wood" for the Bundy true-believers can be found at Substation No 41 (Breakfast Creek Hotel, 2 Kingsford Smith Dr, Breakfast Creek, 07 3262 5988).
Craft beer is on everyone's lips in Brisbane, thanks in part to microbreweries such as Green Beacon Brewing Co (26 Helen St, Teneriffe, 07 3252 8393) and specialists such as The Scratch Bar (8/1 Park Rd, Milton, 07 3107 9910). In the inner city, Newstead Brewing (85 Doggett St, Newstead) is another great option.
The Nant Whisky Bar (Shop 10, Emporium, 1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, 07 3160 2633) has a smooth sibling, Nant Whisky Lounge (2 Edward St, Brisbane), in the works. Cobbler (7 Browning St, West End, 0430 217 621), co-owned by Martin Lange, also focuses on whisky, with a seriously impressive range, but brings cocktails to the mix, to boot.
Hip Room 60 (22 Carraway St, Kelvin Grove, 0402 112 994) neatly illustrates the trend for cafés shifting into cool small bars come nightfall. Fourth Wall (743 Ann St, Fortitude Valley) has super Chris Denman dispensing bar lore. Super Whatnot (48 Burnett La, Brisbane, 07 3210 2343) waves a flag for industrial laneway cool with one of the city's sharpest fit-outs.
For rooftop drinking, there's Elixir (646 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, 07 3363 5599), a new and airy space atop the same building housing the nightclubbier X&Y (648 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, 07 3257 1259).
The Bowery (676 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, 07 3252 0202) is a former GT Bar of the Year, and it remains as consistent as ever, setting standards not just for cocktails made well against a backdrop of live music worth dancing to, but also for what has to be the best-designed drinks list in the state. Another cocktail benchmark in Brisbane is The Laneway, the chic upstairs drinking arm of Urbane.