The Best Bars On The South Bank, Brisbane

Photo of Alex MacKay
9 February 2017

You have spent the day visiting South Bank’s top attractions, the Queensland Museum, the GOMA and the Wheel of Brisbane, and you’ve even cooled off in the afternoon at the Streets Beach infinity pool. But where exactly can one seek after-dark libations in Brisbane’s South Bank precinct? We profile the coolest bars, pubs and secret hideouts scattered around on the left side of the river.

Dandy's Rooftop

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub, Australian, $$$
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The Fox Hotel
The Fox Hotel | © Tom Chapman/Flickr
The rooftop bar of the Fox Hotel, Dandy’s Rooftop, is a Day-Glo marvel renovated and outfitted with artificial grass, multi-coloured parasols and neon lights. This fun tennis-themed space instantly begs a fun night of drinking. The cocktail list agrees with this sentiment too. Try out their popping candy marshmallow martini or pine orange jalapeno margarita. If you start to feel hunger pangs, the Dandy’s menu is very accommodating. Four varieties of pizza and moreish bar snacks like fried crumbed olives stuffed with feta, and spicy smoked pork and goat’s cheese croquettes. The Fox Hotel proprietors describe their bar as an adult playground, the closest thing you’ll get to a backyard beverage in the inner city, so don’t be afraid to bring some of your fellow big kids for an after-work catch-up.

Soleil Pool Bar

Bar, Charcuterie, Beer, Australian
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Celebrate the sun in the newly refurbished Bacchus pool bar, now christened Soleil Pool Bar and glamorously clad in gold, white and timber. The emphasis is entirely on soaking up the summer at this rooftop pool bar. Customers can tan on the deck or lounge around the main bar while local DJs spin discs and the team of mixologists behind the bar serve up cocktails such as ‘She’s A Daydreamer’ (Belvedere pure vodka, lemon and vanilla syrup, raspberry purée and lemonade fizz over a scoop of vanilla ice cream). With the poolside party lasting from sunrise to sunset, the eventual food cravings can be taken care of by the in-house snacks provided by Bacchus, including pizzas, charcuterie and cheese boards.

The Sangria Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub, Australian
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The view from Cove Bar
The view from Cove Bar | © Yelp Inc./Flickr
Food and drink are given equal star billing at Sangria Bar, and both are served right up until midnight when those cravings start to hit. The namesake drink comes in traditional red and white forms, but you can also progress to blueberry and passion fruit red sangria and the refreshing grapefruit and lychee white sangria. Beer lovers are catered for with Estrella Damm on tap along with nine other Spanish beers. The delectable food menu ranges from the light bites (bocaditos), which features patatas bravas and the recommended Alitas de Pollo (spicy chicken wings and pimiento rojo aioli), to more substantial share plates (raciones) which include gambas con chorizo and Vieras Con Calamres Y Chorizo (pan-fried scallop, squid, chorizo and lemon). Once you’ve stuffed your face and your mouth is on fire, stoke the flames by taking to the dancefloor when the venue transitions into a small Latin dance venue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Tomahawk Bar

Bar, Gastropub, Pub Grub, Australian, $$$
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A traditional saloon-styled beer hall, Tomahawk Bar is the newest gastropub darling of the South Bank. The rustic aesthetic is immediately established by the emerald tiles, timber trim and copper-topped bar, all brought together by the abundance of seating inside and al fresco, including a 16 seat-long table for large parties that overlooks the greenery of Grey Street. The craft beer credentials of Tomahawk speak for themselves. 13 taps of independent brews and ciders on rotation (including locals like Brisbane Brewhouse Robust Porter) and an additional selection of bottled beer from overseas and interstate. Seek out the Rogue Old Crustacean Barley Wine from Oregon, USA. The food menu is equally hoppy-mad. Most dishes contain beer ingredients such as the slow cooked pork and fennel meatballs with toasted barley, and Tomahawk’s popular pot pies. Even the house-made ice cream is beer-infused.

Cove Bar And Dining

Bar, Australian
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Cove Bar
Cove Bar | © Yelp Inc./Flickr
Down at the fashionable dining destination of River Quay, Cove Bar and Dining is a champagne and oyster bar that caters for family functions, birthday parties and romantic rendezvouses alike. Past the sunken lawn and inside the airy timber pavilion, head right on up to Cove’s impressive bar, fashioned out of several hundred vintage sets of drawers. Take a chance on a deadly delicious passionfruit mojito with Oak Heart spiced rum, passionfruit purée, lime, mint, and soda. As for the main dish, the oysters come in 15-20 variations such as watermelon granita and lime salt, smoked tomato jam or their signature oyster creation ‘Bubbles’, a Moet & Chandon gel, San Pellegrino emulsion and King Salmon pearls.

Stoke Bar

Restaurant, Bar, Mediterranean, $$$
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Overlooking the glistening nighttime city and jutting out over the South Bank mangroves is Stoke Bar, the riverfront expansion of Stokehouse Restaurant. Bar nibbles here are inevitably delectable, showcasing plates that twist on modern Mediterranean cuisine, including panko-crumbed gurnard with chips and lime aioli and slow braised beef cheek with white polenta and gremolata. Take a glass of wine out onto the timber deck, and return back to yourself amidst the chilled out sounds of the soul music soundtrack.

French Martini Bar

Bar, Restaurant, French, Australian, $$$
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A French Martini
A French Martini | © Stuart Webster/Flickr
A great drop-in joint for casual diners as well as a pre- or post-theatre stop, French Martini Bar is sure to (Gallic) charm. Styled with candy pink banquettes and a back-lit kitchen and bar, French Martini has a breezy, swinging atmosphere that is echoed in the playful, regionally-inspired food menu. Aside from the expected charcuterie and cheese boards, more adventurous offerings include les huites aux saucissons (oysters and sausage) and the Corsican speciality pancetta, mint, white onions and fava beans. Wash all of this down with the requisite Chablis Martini or go off-piste with a royal sloe gin fizz.

Hop And Pickle

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub, Australian, $$$
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Hop and Pickle call their style ‘Hop Culture’, signalling their brazen mission to remind Brisbane’s South Bank what the heart and soul of a truly great pub should be. Certainly, they’ve attempted this quest with aplomb in their Little Stanley Street nook that retains the feel of your local. Craft beer is served on tap, and on Saturdays Hop and Pickle pay homage to the ‘Pub Classics’. Expect plenty of parmas, bangers and mash and greasy sliders. Sundays are roast lunch days, and the regular bar nibbles menu is quite daring, try the braised octopus with romesco sauce or the Asian glazed pork belly with cucumber relish.

Hoo Ha Bar

Coffee Shop, Coffee, Australian, $$$
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Hoo Ha Bar
Hoo Ha Bar | © Rae Allen/Flickr
Hoo Ha Bar doesn’t need to be told it’s cool, it just is by sheer virtue of its unpretentiousness and refusal to conform to mass appeal. Situated off the main tourist throng on Tribune Street, Hoo Ha is an authentic local hangout, but friendly and relaxed enough to cater for newcomers. Four craft brews are constantly rotating on tap, such as the current Brewcult ‘Buggin Out’ Black IPA and Croft Biscuit Brown. Playfulness is also abundant in Hoo Ha’s cocktail menu which is onomatopoeia-themed. You’ll be exclaiming ZING! at the concoction of Hayman’s gin, lychee, fresh coriander, lime juice and sparkling wine.

Manhattan Line

A slice of the Big Apple on the big Bank, Manhattan Line is passionate about only three things: whisky, beer and American street food. We’re talking mountains of hot dogs with every topping under the sun, ketchup, mustard, dill pickle, peppers, caramelised onions, spicy beef chilli and many more. You’ll also find sloppy joes, buffalo wings and tofu dogs for vegetarians. There’s even a Scottish contingent on the menu in the form of deep fried Mars bars. Drinks on offer include bourbon cocktails and Stone and Wood craft lager.
Address: 3A Little Stanley St, South Brisbane QLD, Australia