The 10 Best Bars in Cairns, Australia

Premier waterfront views at The Boatshed
Premier waterfront views at The Boatshed | © The Boatshed
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer27 June 2018

Cairns may be small, but it’s home to a handful of laidback and contemporary bars. From gin-focused haunts to bars stocking the best local brews, quench your thirst at one of the best bars in Cairns.

Three Wolves

Bar, Australian, $$$
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Cocktails are a Three Wolves specialty
© Three Wolves

Three Wolves is the first official small bar in Cairns. Opening in 2016, Three Wolves is hidden down a red brick laneway and sits just 60 people. The cosy venue proudly supplies a speciality whiskey, spirit, cocktail, wine and beer selection to the people of Cairns. There’s nearly 50 different whiskeys available, plus beers from Barrier Reef Brewing. The cocktail list changes every three months and features modern twists on classics. The crowd favourite is Smoke on the Water: a Maker’s Mark old fashioned with cinnamon sugar and a glass smoked on Western Red Cedar.

The Pier Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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Recently named Queensland’s Most Outstanding Bar and Grill by LUX Magazine, The Pier Bar is a popular Cairns hangout on the water. It underwent a large renovation in 2014, in conjunction with Techné Architecture + Interior Design. The blue and white sea-themed Pier Bar now has plenty of seating both inside and out, and its bar shelves are stacked with a strong spirit selection. There’s also a variety of top Australian beers on tap.

Boatshed

Bar, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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Premier waterfront views at The Boatshed
Premier waterfront views at The Boatshed | © The Boatshed

Overlooking Trinity Inlet, Boatshed is a popular bar and restaurant in Cairns. The drinks menu at Boatshed boasts a range of contemporary and classic cocktails, bottled and tap beers, international spirits and Australian wines. Cocktail-wise, there’s the Boatshed Spritz, which includes vodka, lillet rose, prosecco and pink grapefruit; and sangria that’s made from a coveted secret recipe.

The Conservatory Bar

Bar, Australian, $$$
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The Conservatory Bar is constantly rated the top wine bar in Cairns. It has a range of both Australian and imported wines, as well as a selection of Australian craft beers. Its cocktail list changes with the season, but includes house-made products like tonic water and coffee liqueur. There are grazing boards available to accompany your drink, and live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Salt House

Bar, Pizzeria, Restaurant, Australian, Seafood, $$$
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Brunch at Salt House
Brunch at Salt House | © Salt House

Salt House is a restaurant, bar and pizzeria with unbeatable marina and mountain views. Its bar epitomises Cairns’ relaxed vibe, with day beds and occasional live music sessions. There’s a tapas menu at the bar, and a 2-for-1 deal on bar food from Monday to Wednesday. But the best part about the bar at Salt House is its cocktail list. Unwind with a drink like the Summer Fling, which includes Grey Goose vodka, lime, passionfruit pulp and apple juice.

Cock & Bull

Bar, Australian, $$$
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Cock & Bull has been an award-winning and beloved family-owned business in Cairns since 1988. It’s become renowned for its large pub fare portions and unique country bar decor. There’s two bars at Cock & Bull, as well as a tropical beer garden, indoor and outdoor dining, multiple television screens for watching sport, and pokies and Keno. For beer and wine at public bar budget prices, head to Cock & Bull.

Gin Social

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Australian, $$$
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If you love gin and tonics, you'll love Gin Social
If you love gin and tonics, you'll love Gin Social | © sgroene / Pixabay

Located at the Hilton Cairns, Gin Social is a new cocktail bar experience in Cairns. Open seven nights a week, visit the Gin Social for a nightcap. Gin is obviously the main focus, with approximately 40 different varieties available. There are also four gin-based cocktails, like Tea Time, which includes gin, matcha syrup, lemon and an edible flower garnish. Gin Social also stocks a variety of other spirits, and its wine list includes a selection of Australian favourites.

The Attic Lounge Bar

Bar, Nightclub, Australian, $$$
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For a bar with some of the best nightlife in Cairns, check out The Attic Lounge Bar. It begins the night as a cocktail lounge, which has VIP bottle and cocktail booth services, and pours top-quality spirits and cocktails. Later in the evening, The Attic Lounge Bar turns up the volume and hosts DJs, from both Australia and around the world.

Too many choices at Reef Hotel Casino

Casino Hotel
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Courtesy of Pullman Reef Hotel Casino / Expedia

The Reef Hotel Casino is a one-stop destination for all of your bar and restaurant needs. It’s home to the Lihou Bar, which is located right in the heart of the action on the casino’s main gaming floor. Then there’s BAR36, which has a modern setting, popular Sunday sessions and live music six nights of the week. Its team of mixologists create a great range of cocktails, which are all made from fresh ingredients. There’s food available at BAR36, or you can just pop next door to the multi award-winning Tamarind restaurant.

Fusion Art Bar & Tapas

Bar, Restaurant, Tapas, $$$
Map View

Fusion Art Bar & Tapas is ‘fused’ with its neighbour, UnderArt Gallery. It’s rated as the top restaurant in Cairns on TripAdvisor, and specialises in tapas and share plates. Its tagline is “good coffee, fine wine and great food,” so this is the bar to visit in Cairns if wine is your drink of choice. Fusion Art Bar & Tapas has an industrial-style interior, with vintage furniture and exposed red brick walls.

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