Nightlife in Brisbane: where to drink, dance and party

18 January 2016

Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley is home to Australia’s first designated entertainment precinct. Come nightfall, The Valley’s streets are alive and pumping with the sound of live bands, laughter and nightclub beats. With countless bars, clubs and restaurants on every block, deciding where to go can be the hardest part.

Outdoor and rooftop bars

Elixir Rooftop Bar
Elixir Rooftop Bar

Queensland has year-round good weather and it’s worth making the most of the great outdoors. Elixir Rooftop Bar on Ann St has a fresh, holiday feel with concrete slab tables, plenty of tropical greenery and a water feature. From there, hop on over to Up on Constance or Limes Rooftop, and finish at the very top – Eleven

Discover all of Brisbane's rooftop bars here.

For something with a grungier feel, Ric’s Bar will welcome you with a young crowd, alternative music and cheap drinks. Step into its big backyard and feel like you’re at a friend’s house.

A few blocks away, Alfred & Constance is a local favourite, open seven days a week, and featuring three themed bars. Using two Queenslander-style homes with a deck flowing between them, grab a bite and a beer on the main floor, or head upstairs to the tiki bar for pina coladas.

Othewise there are the twinkly fairy-light lit beer gardens of the Pig 'n' Whistle, The Wickham or Beach Burrito.

Live music venues

Black Bear Lodge
Black Bear Lodge

There is always a huge selection of live music in Brisbane every weekend. The Tivoli and The Zoo are two medium-sized live music venues that act as a temporary home to many national and international acts passing through. New addition, The Foundry has live music pumping multiple times a week in its 300-capacity band room.

For a more intimate vibe, head to Black Bear Lodge – many locals go here to discover new and up-and-coming talent. 

Then there is Crowbar, an alternative venue that showcases the best punk, hardcore and metal bands that pass through the city.

Dance clubs

If you’re looking for somewhere you can dance, The Valley is the place to be. Popular with the 20-something crowd, Oh Hello is a busy nightclub where university students can be seen dancing the night away with a jam jar cocktail in hand.

For those wanting variety, The Met has three dance floors within the club pumping RnB, house and techno music all night long. Just down the road the GPO will have DJs spinning dance and R&B hits.

The Press Club
The Press Club

A bar with good vibes, The Press Club has live funk bands on Friday nights from 10pm ’til late. The sophisticated venue attracts an older crowd who know how to have fun and boogie down.

For a more casual vibe, the upstairs Tiki Bar at Alfred & Constance has everyone dancing until the wee hours with popular indie and pop hits, and The Flying Cock is large venue that has live rocks bands on weekends until late then DJs spinning from midnight onwards.

Specialist spirit and cocktail bars

Nant Whiskey Bar

For somewhere a bit different, Brisbane has a unique range of bars popping up all around town. In The Valley, Nant Whisky Bar is a small space that boasts more than 150 boutique whiskies from around the globe. 

Those that like whisky might be interested in the secret bar tucked at the back of Kwan Brothers. The tiny 20-seater bar specialises in Japanese whisky.

Nearby Kwan, Dutch Courage Officer's Mess is a gin bar with a throwback to colonial times.

Cocktail lovers will appreciate the hidden away, petite-sized The Bowery that takes its inspiration from prohibition-era New York. Another great cocktail bar is Fourth Wall, a small bespoke cocktail venue that will ask a few questions before crafting a custom masterpiece.

Alternative clubs

X & Y Bar

There comes a time when a pub doesn’t cut it and listening to the top 40 dance beats on repeat tires. Brisbane has a few alternatives, the first being X & Y bar. This place is known for its grunge vibe and live bands in a club atmosphere. On student Thursdays, X & Y spins 90s hits.

Across the road, Cloudland is a magical mega-club. Like stepping into a scene from The Great Gatsby, the two-storey club is filled with masses of hanging plants, vertical gardens and crystal chandeliers, plush lounges and a funk-dance vibe. On Thursdays, join Soul’sa – from 8.30pm a live band and dance instructors help get your hips shaking.

Brisbane’s biggest LGBTQI nightclub, The Beat Megaclub, has been spinning tunes from its Ann St location for more than 30 years. Still ever-popular, this is the place to dance, meet friends and party seven days a week.

Nightlife in Brisbane CBD

Eagle Street Pier

Down by the river, the Eagle Street Pier precinct is home to plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes. To join the “suits” crowd, head to Fridays or Riverbar for knock-off drinks any night of the week. 


Mr & Mrs G is an intimate bar with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing uninterrupted views of the Story Bridge, and the Bavarian Bier Café has litre steins to keep you busy. 

Laneway bars in Brisbane City

Down Eagle Lane, Brooklyn Standard is a basement-level bar with live music six nights a week and free pretzels. Or The Laneway bar is another spot for after-work drinks.

Red Hook
Red Hook

Parallel to the Queen Street Mall, between George and Albert Sts, Burnett Lane is a best-kept secret for the alternative and hidden range of bars, cafes and eateries. Favourites include Brew, Super WhatnotSurvey Co and Felix Espresso & Winebar. Also near the mall is Sonny's House of Blues, a cool underground bar with live music most nights. 

Gresham Lane is home to NYC street food bar Red Hook, Italian tapas joint Coppa Spuntino (order a red and a plate of fresh prosciutto) and The Gresham, a whisky and bourbon saloon oozing old-world charm with an eccentric touch.

Irish pubs, craft beer bars and gastropubs

In between, The City is home to a stack of friendly Irish pubs including Gilhooleys, Irish Murphy’s and Mick O’Malley’s which are always a cheery place for a pint.

Then there is Embassy Bar – the CBD’s first craft beer bar, and The Stock Exchange, which recently had a renovation and now features a beautiful rooftop bar. Nearby Mr Edward's Alehouse will quench any thirst, and Buffalo Bar will fill you up with beer, whiskey and wings.

West End nightlife

West End has always been a melting pot of cultures. The quirky local style is diverse, alternative and vintage, with the bars reflecting this eclectic atmosphere.

Craft beer bars, breweries & pubs

Boundary St is at the heart of West End. Here Archive opened growing craft beer appreciation in Brisbane before breweries Catchment Brewing Co and Brisbane Brewing Co continued the trend.

Those after a classic pub needn't look far. The Boundary Hotel, Lock ’n’ Load Bistro and Melbourne Hotel provide a solid atmosphere with better-than-average bistro food.

Cocktail bars in West End

West End is home to a stack of small cocktail bars of all flavours. Bar hop between or get cosy at The End, Jungle Bar, The Rumpus Room, BOSC, Cobbler and Lychee Lounge

Where to see live music

The Motor Room

Catch a gig at Max Watt's, where the hottest international acts or home-grown artists grace the stage. The Motor Room at Boundary Street Markets is an old converted warehouse with plenty of big name and local acts playing for free.

Lock ’n’ Load Bistro also features a solid line up of live music.

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