Brisbane Bars Making New History

From igloos by the river, to a secret gin bar in an old Ekka pavilion, we’ve found Brisbane’s new places in old spaces.

Brisbane’s grand old Customs House, has seen a lot in its 132 year history, but who would have expected to see igloos by the river!

Arctic is a stylish pop up bar featuring heated igloos, a decadent Polish-themed menu and winter-inspired cocktails to warm up a cool night. One signature cocktails is the Belvedere Apple Strudel – a warm combination of spiced rum and juniper berries that tastes like liquid apple strudel…complete with a pastry cigar resting on top. Guests are also spoilt for choice when it comes to nibbles and cheese boards (our tip is to try the baked whole brie, it’s drool-worthy). The pop-up bar is here for the next few months, open late afternoons from Thursday to Sunday.

For 140 years, The Brisbane Showgrounds has been cemented in our hearts as one of Queensland’s favourite gathering places. Now this historic site is home to Brisbane’s newest food offerings. King Street has been brought to life with a load of laneway shops and fabulous restaurants – from barbers to burgers, bars to bistros.

Favourites are renowned French restaurant Montrachet, which recently moved here from Paddington… and Italian restaurant Il Verde – which has proved popular with their gourmet pizzas and famous Tuesday and Thursday night cheese wheel pasta!

King Street is also home to Brisbane’s very first food truck park with a permanent bar. Welcome to Bowen Hills has given the old Ekka agriculture halls a new lease on life.

The old sugar building is now home to a boutique gin bar called Swill. There are 115 gins on the wall from around the world and a very impressive list of cocktails. Swill has retained the original heritage features, which adds to the cosy speakeasy vibe.

While next door, the old dairy hall houses the Milk Bar – which serves up classic Ekka treats, like strawberry sundaes. The dairy hall also has as huge permanent indoor/outdoor bar and dining area…so visitors can grab whatever they like form the rotating food trucks and dine together.

Welcome to Bowen Hills also keeps things interesting with a creative events calendar – we’re talking events like the Chicken Nugget Festival, Big Dog and Little Dog festivals and the upcoming Hot Cheese and Mulled Wine Festival.

A few steps away, you’ll find King Street’s newest addition. The Bavarian Beerhaüs occupies a very familiar Ekka site – the historic Royal Snack Bar. Not only are they keeping Ekka traditions alive with a Royal-Show-inspired menu (German sausage dagwood dogs, strawberry sundaes, and show favourites), they’re also staying true to their Bavarian roots. Beerhaüs boasts an impressive 40 brews on tap and Queensland’s largest range of pure German draught beers. They offer free “happy hour” snacks from 4-6 daily and there’s a special every night of the week:

Monday: All You Can Meat Platters ($39pp) + Ping Pong Tournament

Tuesday: All-day $2 Mini Loaded Hot Dogs + Trivia

Wednesday: 10¢ Wings + Comedy Night

Thursday: $20 Schnitz Blitz (Schnitty & 300ml beer) + Shuffle Board Showdown

Friday: Foosball Tournament + Friday Night Footy

Saturday: Live Bands & Performances

Sunday Funday: Giant Adult Games + Free Hot Dog With Every Stein

Roll-up to the old Ekka site and you’re bound to find something happening. You can also make a weekend of it by staying at Rydges, in the heart of King Street.

Brisbane has certainly changed a lot over the years, but one thing’s stood the test of time… people still love gathering for a meal, a drink and a catchup in the beautiful city.