Explore these hidden bars in Brisbane’s CBD

There’s a bit more than meets the eye with Brisbane’s inner-city nightlife. Wandering down the city’s laneways and looking up when you least expect it will reveal watering holes of all sorts, from underground blues and rock’n’roll hubs to grunge laneway bars and rooftop settings. We think these hidden venues are some of Brisbane’s best and, best of all, they’re nearby and safe to walk to.

1. The Cloakroom

The Cloakroom on Elizabeth Street is possibly the city’s most unique bar. Enter via the fire exit stairs down the neighbouring laneway to find a quaint bar and seating area with an open ceiling to let in the natural light and the night sky. Expect to be greeted by an expert waiter who will offer you a palate cleanser (AKA a free drink) and a hot or cold towel depending on the weather, before recommending the perfect beverage. Tip: cocktails aren’t the cheapest thing on the menu here. Opt for a beer or wine to stick to a student budget.

2. The Gresham

Date night, anyone? Outside of peak hour, you could walk past this award-winning bar on Queen Street totally unaware of the happenings behind the door. Named Australia’s best bar of the year in 2016, The Gresham is Queensland’s only heritage-listed bar, housed in the old National Bank building. It’s best known for an extensive whiskey offering but the bar staff do all cocktails well, the traditional and the not-so-traditional (think burnt rosemary with gin and blueberries). The setting itself makes it worth exploring.

3. Firefly

City Hall
Situated behind City Hall (physical entry from George and Adelaide streets) is a cute little cafe courtyard that serves coffee, breakfasts, lunch and pizzas to the nearby city crowd. Later in the week, Firefly transforms into a bustling bar to enjoy post uni beverages and share a pizza with mates.

4. Sixteen Antlers

Change your perspective at Sixteen Antlers. Perched sixteen floors above King George Square, just a minute’s walk from Queen Street Mall, you’ll find this rooftop bar, accessible via Pullman Hotel. Drop in on a Friday arvo to enjoy the busy atmosphere or go early to bask in the city views.

5. Felix For Goodness

At the upper end of Burnett Lane, just off Queen Street Mall, between graffiti murals you’ll find Felix For Goodness, a cafe and bar with a clean and simple fit-out that’s perfect for literally every occasion we can think of. Summer afternoons are the best time to take in the natural light while enjoying an end to the uni day or week at the windowsill overlooking the laneway.

6. Super Whatnot

Just up the lane but sporting a totally different style is the American-style bar and hangout, Super Whatnot. It’s known for its tight but friendly seating arrangement, as well as craft beers and a drool-worthy menu featuring mostly American-style feeds. Go early and go often, this place fills up quick, seating only 100.

7. Brew

A dark but welcoming hotspot for the city’s workers and students, Brew is nestled down the bottom end of Little Burnett Lane, just off the Queen Street Mall. The grunge art and posters set the scene for a relaxing atmosphere and the furniture makes it easy to feel at home with couches and bar tables for settling in with a group of friends.

8. Brooklyn Standard

“If the music is too loud, you’re too old” reads the fluorescent sign on the wall at Brooklyn Standard, Brisbane City’s home of live rock music. The underground bar in Eagle Lane draws in a crowd most nights to dance and groove to the local cover bands. Weekends are where it’s at, look out for the line of people in an otherwise empty laneway.

9. Fat Angel Sports Bar

Meet Brooklyn Standard’s new neighbour and the perfect place to warm up before a boogie at the aforementioned blues bar. Fat Angel is an American sports bar in Eagle Lane serving burgers, buffalo wings and all other good American eats. Rugby league, American baseball and basketball, Australian rules football – you can watch them all here.

10. Next Hotel Rooftop Bar

Next Hotel
For a bird’s eye view of Queen Street Mall, head up the lift in Next Hotel to its rooftop pool, bar and restaurant. It’s almost too perfect at sunset, but any time is a good time to enjoy the rooftop views of the mall and its surrounds. We suggest you save it for an end-of-semester celebration.

11. John Mills Himself

You may know John Mills Himself as the great provider of delicious coffee and dirty chais (seriously, the chai) but did you know it’s also a bar? This quaint little red brick establishment down the driveway on Elizabeth Street may be small, but its evening offerings are not. John Mills Himself prides itself on its local produce, measuring all its drinks in miles, that is, how many miles away it was sourced. The beer is under 180km, the wine under 250km and the spirits are from around Australia. Go on, try something local.

12. Sazerac Rooftop Bar

We don’t blame you if you haven’t seen this one in the city. At 30 floors above street level, it’s the city’s highest bar. And that view. Find it on Mary Street, it’s a sure hit with out-of-town visitors.

13. Malt Traders

A bit more of a bottle shop than a bar, this store on Market Street specialises in boutique and local spirits. Add it to a bar hop across the city to discover a few local liquors.

14. Hellcat Maggie

This atmospheric restaurant and bar dishes up breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus coffee and alcoholic beverages. They have their own beer on tap designed just for students (ie. it’s cheap). This is the perfect spot to hang out with friends, in style.