When the sun goes down on the River City, the laidback, fun-loving capital comes to life. It usually involves cocktails. Whatever your tipple is, you can be guaranteed the beer is cold, the wine list well thought-out and the cocktails shaken with flair. Catch a live music gig, sit back and share a few rounds in a relaxed beer garden or roof-top bar, or hit the dance floor and boogie the night away in this New World City.
Our top picks
Alfred & Constance
130 Constance St, Fortitude Valley
A new style of mega-pub, A&C refurbished a classic Queenslander residence into a bar/restaurant/cafe/tiki bar. Open seven days a week, you can be ensured a good time here any evening. Dance with a piña colada in hand in the upstairs White Lightening Tiki Bar, dance with a vodka-Red Bull in The Fever Club basement disco bar, or simply enjoy a beer in the Vanguard Beer Garden.
Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall
15 Caxton Street, Petrie Terrace
From the crew behind Shady Palms in Sydney and Peasant and Libertine in Brisbane, comes an old school whisky bar with a Southern vibe. Expect dulcet rockabilly tunes, taxidermy peacocks, saloon-style seating and simple American eats paired with beers from Australian and American microbrewries. Try the fresh apple juice and whisky cocktail.
100 Boundary Street, West End
Known as a ‘beer boutique’, Archive offers the best in local and imported craft beers with 22 constantly rotating taps and over 400 bottled beers. Talk about spoilt for choice! Come early for a meal and work your way through the menu, sampling as many different beers as you can in a relaxed West End locale.
123 Eagle Street, Brisbane
There’s some great nightlife to be had down by the river, and Black Bird is one of the newest contenders in the bar-by-the-river game. A Gatsby-esque bar with uninterrupted views of the Story Bridge, Black Bird is one classy, lively place to enjoy a cocktail or stiff drink (there are almost 100 scotches and whisky in their line-up).
711 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
About as iconic as you can get, The Zoo is Brisbane’s longest standing live music venue. Swinging open its doors in 1992, just about every big (and small) indie act from The Pixies, Powderfinger, Cat Empire to The Grates and You Am I have graced The Zoo stage. Usually open Wednesday through Saturday nights, check out their gig guide and see who’s in town.
543 Coronation Drive, Toowong
For a night out away from the City and the Valley, you can’t go past Queensland’s former Hotel of the Year, The Regatta has been a Toowong instruction since 1874 and continues to serve up good times from within her iron-laced verandas. With a range of bars and dining options on offer, head underground to the whisky and cigar bar or make some new friends in the communal courtyard area.
641 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
Touted as Brisbane’s ‘premier urban oasis’, it’s easy to fall into the sublime on a night out at Cloudland. If you’re partying with friends, book a lavish themed booth, choosing from spaces such as the Peacock Lounge, the ethereal wire Onion Pods or a Persian Table. With an emphasis on OTT, Cloudland impressive on every floor. Enjoy an indoor waterfall, a retractable roof opening and a bar made from 19,000 crystal balls. Dress to impress.
In a city where you can barely swing a cat without running into a new bar, it’s safe to stay the nightlife scene is alive and well in Brisbane. While known for its support of local live music, it’s increasingly become a city steering away from mega clubs and towards smaller boutique establishments from specialist whiskey bars to microbreweries. These establishments are most commonly located in four main districts:
In 2014, Lonely Planet named Brisbane the country’s coolest city. When it comes to the CBD, you’ve got to know where to find the after dark scene: head to the Riverside restaurants and bars along Eagle Street Pier. Then there’s the Treasury Casino and a smattering of bars dotted around the streets that shoot off the Queen Street Mall.
Discover the nightlife at Eagle Street Pier. Picture: Getty Images
The Stock Exchange Hotel now boasts a rooftop bar, and nearby Victory Hotel has a great open-air beer garden and typically subtropical relaxed vibe. If you’re into smaller bars tucked away in Laneways, explore Gresham Lane, Burnett Lane and Spencer Lane.
Something for everyone, the ‘Valley’ is where you’ll find pumping dance music megaclubs, sophisticated cocktail bars, grungy live music venues and trendy eateries. Chinatown is a popular place to get the night started, then on to dance the night away or see a live performance.
James Street offers a more refined scene with a focus on bar dining then perhaps catching a film at Palace Centro cinemas. Further afield, The Emporium offers classy dining establishments, but there’s plenty of good times to be had at one of Newstead’s three brewery-bars.
Some say “West End is the best end”, and considering the amount of new bars and restaurants that have popped up in this friendly neighbourhood, we think they might be onto something.
For a relaxed evening with impressive cocktails head to The End or The Jungle tiki bar. For larger-scale entertainment your best bet is Archive or The Boundary Hotel. Whisky appreciators need look no further than Cobbler for a choice of over 300 tipples.
Popular with sports fans, located just a stone’s throw from Suncorp Stadium, this nightlife strip is heaving pre and post games or events at the stadium. But there’s also plenty of offer outside of sporting season. Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall is the kind of venue you can pull up in a booth for the evening and toe-tap to rockabilly tunes, then there’s Cartel Bar and Brewski for a great selection of beers on tap.
For a gastropub menu and relaxed yet well thought out cocktail list, Statler & Waldorf is where it’s at. Wander over to The Barracks and be treated to wine bars and European influenced dining options. Wine and dine then catch a film at Palace Barracks cinema.