Brisbane's Best Hidden Cafes
With a Coffee Club on every corner and a new café opening every second week it’s easy to miss some of the...
We might be bad at keeping secrets, but to be fair, a much more heinous crime would be denying anyone the experience offered by some of the most unique bars in Brisbane.
Sometimes the best bars aren’t found on a bustling strip but are hidden deep within the catacombs of the city. We’ve explored every dark corner, knocked on every door and tapped every phone to bring you this guide to accessing the best hidden bars in Brisbane.
Straight off the streets of B-N-E, this hip hop speakeasy is only accessible via a seemingly innocuous, pastel-walled barbershop in Fish Lane. Once inside (and perhaps after a trim) you’ll need a secret code to open a hidden door and gain access into the bar beyond. You’ve made it! Now kick up your feet and enjoy the dope New York-inspired atmosphere and rotating selection of craft beer and cocktails.
Hidden in an underground den below Brisbane’s iconic Regatta Hotel (away from the prying eyes of meddling flatfoots) lies this perfect homage to the prohibition era of the ‘20s and ‘30s. Named for the SS Walrus, the nineteenth century steam-powered, rum still, The Walrus Club asks you to don your best threads and enjoy an old fashioned prepared with love by their sharp-skilled attendants. Fine liquor is their business, not sharing your inner secrets.
Conceived in Montreal, The Cloakroom chose an equally cultured spot for its sophomore setting – Elizabeth Street! Stumble into Cloakroom lane, climb the fire escape and pass through an unmarked door and you’ll have finally earned passage into this minimalist venue, devoted to creating the absolute highest standard of cocktails. This is a bar so shrouded in sophisticated secrecy that you won’t even find a menu inside. Instead, an expert barkeep will start you with a powerful palate cleanser before crafting a custom cocktail specially designed to suit your personal tastes. We don’t deserve treatment this fine!
Apparently not. This former antique shop feels right at home on the streets of Woolloongabba, but there’s more to Can You Keep a Secret than meets the eye. This retro-themed bar and hangout has plenty to be discovered when you move past the main bar and into the labyrinth of hidden rooms, all decked out with cosy couches and quirky furnishings. There’s even a secret garden for you to relax in while sampling their collection of mostly Australian craft beer, wine and spirits. Remember to BYO snacks!
Ever wondered what lies behind that mysterious red door across from the train station on Brunswick street? Well, it turns out it’s the gateway to one of the coolest underground dive bars in Brisbane! Fully embracing its dingy setting and powered by classic, 20th century Americana, Greaser is an ideal late night spot of burgers and beers. The pilgrimage through the back alleys of Fortitude Valley is a small price to pay for the discovery of this subterranean throwback.
Loads of bars on this list make earning entry a challenge, but Legends kicks it up a notch by refusing to provide an address, and instead claiming that they’re located at -27.469738, 153.021169, Brisbane City. Navigate the numbers to a hidden blue door marked by an old school wall-mounted telephone, and discover… that you’re not done yet. You’ll need the secret code posted to their Facebook page to pass the final test and finally gain entry to this steampunk-cross-prohibition bar that specialises in Brisbane’s only black cocktails. Enjoy your drink, you’ve earned it!
With no outside signage and thick, black curtains obstructing any chance of peeking inside, it feels like Malecon doesn’t want to be found (and given its proximity to Suncorp Stadium, it’s not hard to imagine why). If the flickering lamp above the door catches your eye and you decide to test what’s behind the door, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. A little piece of Cuba in Brisbane (but like, before the Communism), the dim lights and smooth jazz are a welcome sight, but the real treat is the amazing selection of rum from Cuba and around the world.
It was during an innocent game of hide and seek in Woolloongabba’s Electric Avenue Jr. that my sister first decided to open a conspicuously placed antique wardrobe. Inside, she was surprised to be greeted not by a world of snow and goat-men-things, but rather a 1920s-inspired speakeasy bursting with divine whiskey and jazz music! Between its unusual entrance, super detailed decor and stacked bar, Jack Rabbits is easily one of the most immersive bars in the city, and now you know exactly where to find it!
Who knew that only an unmarked, orange door stood between the loud, bustling streets of Fortitude Valley and a stylish, classy speakeasy known as Savile Row? Designed to be reminiscent of the famous London street for which it’s named, the ornate, glowing chandelier is easily the centrepiece of the setting, although, if we’re being honest, we’re more impressed by the shelves that frame it – all stacked with more bottles of booze than Mel Gibson could drink in a lifetime!
Spend a little bit of time exploring and you quickly learn that Brisbane’s got more than a few hidden gems waiting to be found.