This is our Must Do guide to Brisbane’s 10 best underground bars. Hidden beneath the hustle and bustle of the city you can find a selection of secret subterranean watering holes - the finest ‘off the beaten track’ hotspots in Brisbane.
The old underground stables of New Farm pub the Queens Arms, where 19th century drinkers once hitched their horses, has been transformed into what would have to be one of Brisbane’s most ambient bars and late night supper club, with original sandstone and sandstock walls, cow hide stools and vintage armchairs and a fantastic Pan Asian menu that is served through until 2am.
Brisbane’s very first underground bar, found in the century of basement of the Metro Arts building, is still going strong, partly because it’s Brisbane’s very own Cheers bar, where everyone’s a regular, there’s no pretence and the owner and staff treat customers like long lost friends. It’s also Australia’s biggest cider bar and has a great Italian kitchen that cooks up homey delish food.
Leave Brisbane behind when you go downstairs into the old Sun newspaper printing press basement, now a Blade Runner type world of bustling flag festooned Asian alleyways, steaming kitchens dishing out street food, Asian pop-up supermarket and a games area. Meanwhile walls slide open to reveal ever smaller bars, including, behind one wall, Brisbane’s tiniest Japanese whisky bar.
Like all good underground bars, Brooklyn Standard is hard to find, with a blink-and-you-miss-it doorway tucked away in Eagle Lane. Take the stairs down to a funky brick American bar-styled basement heaving with punters who are there for the great live music every night of the week, the American beers, cracking wine and cocktails, the free pretzels and to nab a cool pistol-lamplit booth.
Deep in the cracks of the fortitude valley, disguised behind double red gates and down an alleyway you’ll find Brisbane’s newest bluesy basement bar. Transport yourself to an American dive bar where you’re surrounded by old school USA, graffiti covered walls and the sweet smell of American comfort food. Sip on cocktails, craft beer and - if you’re feeling patriotic - an American pickle back shot.
Brisbane may not have snow, slopes or use for skis but who said we can’t still enjoy a good old fashion chalet bar? Tucked away in the cellar of the Alliance Hotel is this candle lit hideaway with red brick walls and antique skis hanging from the wall. Warm up this winter and get cosy at Brisbane’s very own Apres Ski Bar as you unwind, have a bite with friends and snuggle up by the fireplace with a drink in hand.
Life truly should be about fine wine and good conversation. Make your way to the no-mans end of the Brisbane CBD, where if you walk through a small doorway you’ll find Brisbane’s very own underground wine shop and bar. Picture an old fashion gentleman’s club with a mixture of fine wine, chesterfields, old cigars and a classic Dean Martin sort of feel; there is no better way to immerse yourself in the variety of wines this place has to offer.
This is one of Brisbane’s best kept suburban secrets. Take yourself back in time to the prohibition days, where if you wander down the back of a laneway and down a staircase you will stumble across Brisbane’s very own take on a speakeasy. Hidden beneath the historical Regatta Hotel this rustic, war bunker style space specialises in rum, serving up more than 300 kinds.
Venture down the art-signed dead end of Burnett Lane and turn right into the bunker style lounge which by day is a café and a happening bar by night. Brew wears the distinction of being Brisbane city’s first laneway bar and has become a stayer as others come and go – a retreat from the busy streets above. Come here for Craft Beer & Cider Wednesdays, spectacular cocktails or just a quiet glass of wine with friends for, no matter what the weather above ground, Brew is a bar for all seasons.