Where to drink gin in Brisbane City
We’d happily argue all afternoon (over a gin or two) that Brisbane CBD is home to the greatest concentration of super excellent bars in all of Brisbane. As of yet, there’s no spot solely dedicated to the botanical clear spirit, but instead we have a colourful splattering of rooftop, riverside and laneway bars that offer variety and focus on quality drinking and large ranges of gin. So if you’re looking for a place to experiment with new age Australian and international gins or cocktails, drop into these bars in Brisbane City.
It’s not often a Queensland bar takes out a national award over our bigger cousins down south (let alone back that up a second year running). Winning best Australian bar at the Australian Bar Awards and Gourmet Traveller awards in 2015 and 2016 is a testament to how great this heritage bar is. The Gresham doesn’t focus on any one liquor, but instead stocks the top calibre of each. There’s two dozen gins lining the mahogany wooden bookshelves shelves on the back bar, with a strong focus on local Australian craft gins. Taste everything from Byron Bay’s Brookie’s Slow Gin, to the western coast’s West Winds label.
There are three things certain in life in Brisbane – death, taxes and Martin Lange (the guy behind Cobbler, Savile Row, Finney Isles) running an epic cocktail bar. This dark and moody bolthole is tucked down the city’s oldest laneway, Burnett Lane. Warm interiors, heritage bones, a 30-strong cocktail list and 600-bottle glimmering back bar define the space. As the focus here is on cocktails, experiment with a drink such as the Stone Soup: a mix of Aviation American gin, peach, fino, bitter orange, goat’s milk and maple syrup.
A small laneway bar packed to the brim with personality, neighbour Super Whatnot also packs a punch with classic and original cocktail list. Popular with after-work drinks, best arrive early if you’d like a seat at this a split-level venue. For gin, ask for the Stairway to Heaven cocktail: it mixes Hayman’s gin with a housemade plum and sage syrup and lemon juice.
John Mills Himself
This teeny tiny hidden laneway bar keeps the focus on local and craft drinking. The drinks list outlines “drink miles”. That means you can understand exactly how many kilometres away from Brisbane CBD you craft gin was distilled. Truly makes you think about your footprint, right!? Keep it minimal by drinking purple-coloured Ink Gin from just over the NSW border. Add tonic and it turns pink.
This chic, Mediterranean-vibe waterfront tapas bar is the ideal spot to kick back on a sunny afternoon with a negroni in hand. With floor-to-ceiling glass, the uninterrupted river views and special Nosferatu blood orange gin make that aforementioned negroni taste even better.
This opulent underground bar fills the old vaults of a heritage-listed bank building with two dozen types of gin, fine dim sum and personal service. The drinks list features a special gin list for the ultimate G&T. The rest of the cocktail menu is divided into three ‘playlists’, drawing inspiration from bygone musical eras and great artists. We’ll make our own “Confessions” after a few of the Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin with pink pepper vermouth, lemon, and peach & hibiscus tea soda cocktails. Best of all, it’s table service. So sit back, order a whole bottle of gin and have a trolley rolled over with mixers. Swish.
Gin definitely feels like a summertime spirit, and Mr Percival has summer written all over it. Drop into the hexagonal-shaped over-water bar for a lazy day on the deck, sipping gin from a shared cocktail jug. Both shared cocktails feature gin, but while we’re fond of Pimm’s our adventurous side chooses Peachy, a jug with gin, crème de peche, lime, cloudy apple juice, pineapple, bitters and house grenadine. The location under the iconic Story Bridge and incredible skyline views are the cherry on top.
Inspired by the opulence of The Great Gatsby, this expansive bar with 180-degree riverviews is the luxe spot to drink up! Of course, gin was the spirit of the era and so Blackbird’s cocktail list has half a dozen gin cocktails on show, including a London Dirty with lemon, rosemary and black pepper. Look behind the bar, you’ll likely spot rare and exclusive gins sourced from around the globe.
Martini lovers listen up – Walter’s offer three types: a crisp and dry, wet and aromatic or dirty and savoury take on the classic drink. Cut from the same cloth as The Gresham, Walter’s Bar offers a similar concept down by the City Botanic Gardens. Expect the same good old-fashioned service, knowledgeable barkeeps and extensive selection of premium local spirits.
A sky-high rooftop bar on the 16th floor seems like the perfect spot to drink gin, no? This chic rooftop garden with cosy lounges is popular with the after-work crowd. From classics like a gin martini, negroni or elderflower southside, to its signature Sour Peach or Passionate Ginge cocktails, no doubt you’ll find your pick.
From 12 till 12 you can graze on tinned fish, pintxos and three types of Spain’s famous jamon ham. Wash your tapas down with a sherry-based cocktail, the house specialty. We’re after gin, obviously, so opt for the ‘New World Water’, a gin, cointreau, rose and sherry number. Buenas noches.
If there’s any bar serving bathtub gin, it has to be Legends. This speakeasy bar harks back to 1920s prohibition era when alcohol was illegal and bars were a secret. First of all, Legends is hidden. Look for the black emblazoned door to find this exclusive bar with jazz, blues and theatrics. They keep the focus on rum here, but ask the bartenders about the gin selection.