Face it guys. If you want a girlfriend (or boyfriend) the chances are you’re going to need to put on some pants and go on a date.
Historically, there’s no better way to achieve this than by going to a mutually agreed bar, sitting awkwardly opposite each other and exchanging banalities which in theory should get you lucky.
It’s a cluster-royale of pitfalls. So, do at least give yourself a fighting chance by taking note of the best Brisbane date bars to sample.
What’s striking about Maker is the marriage between the hole-in-the-wall, back alley of Barcelona feel combined with the Shinjuku-style drinking dens of Tokyo.
It’s wonderfully intimate, with a capacity of 25 people including outside seating. And once inside there’s only one place to be: front row, along the 7.5m-long brass metal bar. It’s pure theatre.
Custom-glazed porcelain lights dramaturgically illuminating the bar staff, free-flowing and debonair, manipulating exotic ingredients, cocktail kits, designer glassware, all captured in every grace of detail. It’s impossible to get cocktails like these anywhere else in Brisbane and is the perfect way to sprinkle a touch of stagecraft into proceedings.
The name is a nod to the wine and spirit-makers who fill their shelves, with a binary focus on half Australian; half international artisan wines and high-end spirits.
And if the devil is in the detail, then the drinks menu is riddled with evil spirits (they even make their own liqueurs and infusions – Negronis are made using house-infused vermouth).
The food is exquisite too, with the shucked-to-order oysters a must-try. So, if nitrogen-chilled Martinis and beeswax-washed Starward, coffee, pollen and macadamia cocktails over a hand-chipped ice globe wouldn’t hinder your chances, you know where to go.
9 Fish Ln, South Brisbane
Fromage [The Cow]
Reportedly, cheese possesses ten times more PEA, or phenylethylamine – thought to release the same rush of hormones during bonking – as does chocolate.
So, lovers of cheese take note: Fromage [The Cow] is here to liven that labido. Cheese is what they do, and with 80 different types of the stuff no less (there’s a glass-walled walk-in cheese room for tasting or takeaway) it’s fair to say Brisbane’s first licensed fromagerie is an unashamed orgy of cheese.
And with so much curdled joy on offer it would be sacrilege without a truly global wine list to match. The in-house wine bar doesn’t disappoint, with an extensive variety of premium reds and whites (predominantly French, Italian and Australian), roses, an array of sparklings and three dolce options for afters.
Relax at the wine bar and make your way through some amazing pairings, or for fuss-free purposes, plump for the Fromage Signature Cheese Platter where you’ll have a choice of 15 cheeses along with quince, preserves, fruit, bread and grissini.
If you want something more substantial, breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are all available, offering decadent cheese-inspired dishes. Our advice? Keep it simple, and stick to the winning sum of: wine + cheese = “YES PLEASE”, and you won’t be going far wrong.
14 Park Rd, Milton
The Gresham Bar
The Gresham Bar isn’t your average CBD bar. The building dates back to 1881 and nestles in the heritage-listed National Australia Bank.
Originally designed for the Queensland National Bank, retaining many original features, including the old bank’s drop safe by the entrance. The place oozes class and sophistication of a bygone era, and, though the London gentleman’s club feel, possesses a nostalgic current of Old World ambience and effortless warmth.
Victorian fireplace, chesterfield couches, upright piano, gramophone, the occasional cluster of hanging vintage frames and gilt mirrors, all contained under 7m-high pressed metal ceilings. It’s a step back in time primed for great conversation.
Known for their whiskey – the list of rye and bourbon is unrivalled in the city – The Gresham Bar’s carefully selected range of draught beers, wine and spirits more than punches its weight.
And the cocktail list, a precious lineup of cleverly crafted, exquisitely executed marvels, is precisely the sort of upmarket drinking you’ll be needing.
So settle in on the couches of the library room, grab a table (and table service) in the main bar or, for those warmer evenings, wander outside onto the delightful wraparound terrace overlooking the laneway.
Good luck old chap.
308 Queen St, Brisbane City
In Junk Bar, Brisbane’s inner city Ashgrove suburb throws up quite the gem. Through the unassuming sliding door and the heavy red velvet curtains belies a feast of densely packed retro furnishings and vintage pieces, cocooned in an alpine wood cabin-style lounge.
It’s a visual buffet of low-lit lamps, rugs, classic wooden tables and chairs and velour couches, soundtracked to the warm hiss of a 45. Mounted deer head, leafy wallpaper and an award-winning collection of junk store finds – hence the name – fill the venue, and the wonderful 70s tiki-style is as charming as charming gets. To glance over at your nan knitting away in a rocking chair would be unsurprising.
Bricolage interior aside, the drinks aren’t half bad either. And who’s to argue with teapot gin? Nobody. There is something romantically appropriate about sharing fruity gin-based cocktails served with – clink clink, blush blush – a quaint little tea set.
The service is spot on, the cocktails as vibrant and fresh as they come, and, for that extra oomph, there’s live music from local artists each and every week. And if you’re peckish, the staff think nothing of grabbing you a takeaway from one of the neighbouring eateries and dishing it up on their own crockery. How sweet.
215 Waterworks Rd, Ashgrove
Before The End came to be it was formerly the local video store.
Now, the late Trash Video lives on with a visual homage to rentals past. A giant tribute painting of old cassette spines and a scattering of classic VCR tapes sees nicely to that. They even produce classic film-inspired cocktails (mine’s a Die Hard on the rocks!), lending further to an inadvertent vaporwave aesthetic.
And if you’re wanting to show off your rum-antic side then The End’s thirst for lashings of the Caribbean liquor will keep your cockles warm and your spirits high. Whether it’s Mount Gay, Kraken, Angostura 7yr or the like, this West End speakeasy-style watering hole provides a home for the hipsters and excels in seasonal cocktails with a twist.
By no means do they limit themselves to rum though. Home brews, boutique ciders and a cocktail list your imagination long, it’s a playground for some of the most tirelessly inventive mixologists around.
Some creations are eye-wateringly beautiful, always pushing the creative envelope, always garnishing with flair. And Above all: unfailingly boozy and delicious.
Tip: The Forget Me Not is a date night winner, the alcoholic equivalent of a bunch of flowers. Boozy bouquets to one side, The End is an extremely easy place to session in for a few hours, and with a capacity of 60 people and snug furnishings, the place generates a great vibe without getting too big, or rowdy, for its boots.
Here’s to your night turning into an action thriller, rather than a straight-up farce.
73 Vulture St, West End