The 30 best bars in Queensland 2024, according to bartenders

What makes a great bar? We asked the best of Queensland's bar industry to point the way.

The 30 best bars in Queensland 2024, according to bartenders

The 30 best bars in Queensland according to bartenders

What makes a great bar? There’s the hospitality, first and foremost — it helps, too, if the drinks are delicious. You want a well designed place, somewhere nice to spend some time in — you want atmosphere, experience, and a good time. You also want a sense of place. That’s what the Boothby Best Bars awards are about. We asked bartenders and bar owners to nominate the bars they think are best in their state. And then we polled 100 of them — elite bartenders, influential bar operators, and the smartest bar industry figures — to find out how the rankings should look. The result? The Boothby 30 Best Bars in Queensland. Get a look at the list below.

1. Alba Bar & Deli

34 Burnett Ln, Brisbane City | @albabaranddeli

Sherry, hip-hop, and quality tinned goods from Spain and elsewhere — that’s the very simple proposition from Alba Bar & Deli. It’s one that has seen it through five years of trade — and one that sees them top the list this year. Located at the midpoint of Burnett Lane in the Brisbane CBD, and sandwiched between a Korean restaurant and Death & Taxes, Alba Bar & Deli comes from longtime bartender Jamie Fleming and is led by Cecile Schoen; you’ll find smart food, well-crafted cocktails, and plenty of good things made from grapes: there are few finer things than a good glass of manzanilla sherry and some high-quality tinned anchovies, drunk and eaten at the bar right here.

2. Rosella's

1734 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads | @rosellasbar

Rosella’s is a little Gold Coast bar that is a big surprise. It's kind of kitschy, but not cringey, a cocktail bar with an Expo ‘88 atmosphere that makes modern, delicious drinks; their Blinky Bill cocktail (eucalyptus, strawberry gum, and lime leaf vodkas, with quandong gentian liquyeur, chardonnay verjus and aloe vera) uses hyper-local ingredients and modern carbonation techniqes, and ended up on the 2022 Drinks of the Year top 50; their Fantales cocktail made the list in 2023. Owner and bartender Jack Connor places a strong emphasis on using local ingredients and Australian flavours wherever possible; each of the drinks on the short cocktail list would be the standout drink on the list of other bars. It is unsurprising that Connor’s attention to technique, inventive use of flavour, the overall approachability and deliciousness of the drinks has seen the bar named the best cocktail bar in Queensland.

3. Maker

9 Fish Ln, South Brisbane | @makerbrisbane

Maker still feels fresh and vital nine years after it opened in Fish Lane in South Brisbane. It’s a small room with space for 20-odd guests, attracting regulars, pre-theatre goers, and those appreciative of the cocktailing arts. Because the cocktails here are as good as you get anywhere in Australia. Bar manager Ellery Low leads a talented, small team (including ones to watch Blade Deegan and Georgia Gresham), with a short and smart list of cocktails on offer. But it’s their laidback, unpretentious take on service — in a small, minimalist, almost very Melbourne space — that is refreshing, and keeps us coming back.

4. Frog's Hollow Saloon

26 Charlotte St, Brisbane City | @frogshollowsaloon

Step into Frog’s Hollow Saloon, and you’re set for a good time. The bar opened in May of 2022, quickly made a name for themselves not just in Brisbane, but around the country. Here, you’re drinking whiskey — the cowboy hats and leather saddles on the wall remind you that they bill this place as a saloon — but you can also get a great cocktail (whether it’s on their list, or not). That’s because they’ve assembled one of the best bar teams not just in the city, but the country. After topping this last year, it’s no surprise that they’ve also been voted as having the best hospitality team in Queensland.

5. Santé Cocktail Bar

14 Duggan St, Toowoomba City |

Alexandra Percy and Loic Michelin are the owner-operators of this Toowoomba cocktail bar. It’s a small, warm and inviting bar with rich timber tones and exposed brick, but it’s their skill with the tins that has seen Santé — that’s cheers, in French, by the way — pick up the accolades.

6. Before + After

181 George St, Brisbane City | @beforeandafterbar

The clue here is in the name: Before + After is an amaro bar, and that’s the idea with amari; you drink them before a meal, and after a meal — but with drinks this good, we’d advise you to visit any time. Set in a basement, down an alleyway in the Brisbane CBD, Before + After offers an intimate space and the talents of bartender and owner George Curtis. There’s also a load amari the likes of which you won’t have tasted before; your best bet is to ask the bartenders here to take you on the journey — you’re gonna like the trip.

7. Savile Row

667 Ann St, Fortitude Valley | @savilerowfortitudevalley

Savile Row is the cocktail and whisky bar that sits behind the unmarked orange door on busy Ann Street in Fortitude Valley. Step inside, and you’ll feel like you’ve left the mega pubs and nightclubs of the Valley for good. The cocktails have always been good here, and there is a buzzing energy in the room when the lights go down and the music picks up. But it is the welcome here, and the hospitality, that marks this bar apart from the others. The bar also celebrated its seventh birthday this year — it is well on its way to institution status.

8. The Gresham

308 Queen St, Brisbane City | @thegresham

The Gresham is the bar that kicked off the revival of the Brisbane CBD 10 years ago, and post-Covid it’s still going strong today. A change in leadership this year sees Justin Croucher return to his favourite bar as general manager, and with a focus on whiskey, the cocktail game here has stepped up in recent years. There’s a young team of generous bartenders behind the stick — Corby Small is one to watch — and the jet setting multi-hyphenate bartender Millie Tang calls the bar home when she’s in town. Since the social distancing era, table service has become the order of the day here, and it’s still one of the best looking bar rooms anywhere in Australia. It’s an All Time Great for a reason.

9. Antico

48 Burnett Ln, Brisbane City | @anticobarbrisbane

It’s the latest bar in the Cuatro Group’s stable of top bars, joining sister bar Death & Taxes in Burnett Lane in the Brisbane CBD. It’s a multilevel, intimate space with mosaic floors, and a beautiful arched mirror taking centre place on the back bar — there’s plenty of whisky here (a Cuatro Group signature), good things to be had from the cocktail list (their Apricot & Brioche Old Fashioned will have you asking for another) and attentive service — it’s a special little place, and this year’s best new bar.

10. Death & Taxes

36 Burnett Ln, Brisbane City | @deathandtaxesbrisbane

Brisbane cocktail bar Death & Taxes opened in the Before Times of April 2019, and quickly established itself as one of the leading lights of the city’s bar scene. There’s a more than impressive back bar here, highlighting co-owner Martin Lange’s love of whisky, and a smart cocktail list of signature drinks — the best part is, they’re one of the few CBD cocktail bars open on a Sunday, too.

Person of the Year QLD: Carmen Hartwich

The Person of the Year presented by Jack Daniel’s Bonded is an award that goes to that person in the Queensland bar scene who has made an outsized impact on the industry, and serves as both a mentor and inspiration to others. And on that measure, there’s no-one who’s surpasses Carmen Hartwich.The Brown-Forman brand ambassador has had a big year. After a long period of intense study, Carmen became just the seventh Master of Bourbon in the world as certified by the Council of Whiskey Masters. She’s the first Australian to be awarded the title, and the first woman globally.Carmen was voted the Person of the Year by the 100-strong Boothby advisory panel for Queensland, consisting of bartenders, bar operators, ambassadors and influential bar industry figures. And it wasn’t a small win for Carmen — she’s clearly inspired a number of others, garnering twice as many votes as the next candidate.

11. Alice

195 Elizabeth St, Brisbane City | @alicebarbris

Don’t call it a dive bar — owner Pete Hollands likes to think of Alice as rock and roll boozer. Black and white photos of 1980s hair bands frame the walls, and the room is awash in red light that has you thinking of LA nightclubs. Throw in a stage, a jukebox pumping , and old cathode ray TVs playing He-Man on loop and yeah — it does start to feel a little divey. But what sets Alice apart are the drinks: plenty of bourbon on offer, that’s for sure, but the cocktails land with precision, and there’s even a Ramos Gin Fizz — made quicker with the use of a spindle mixer — gracing the list. If it’s a dive, it’s certainly five star.

12. Cobbler

7 Browning St, West End | @cobblerwestend

There’s a lot of whisky, and many whisky bars, in Brisbane. But Cobbler and its Scotch whisky focus was there at the very start. It’s a neighbourhood bar, opened by bartender Martin Lange back in 2013 in West End, and the scale of its whisky ambitions has always been impressive: multiple bottlings from distilleries, independent bottlings, whiskies you can’t get elsewhere. But it’s also a cocktail bar, and one that has turned out some of the city’s best bartenders throughout the years. The latest generation behind the stick there continue its tradition of having personable, talented barkeeps dedicated to giving you a good time.

13. W.A.T Den

105/101-105 Mooloolaba Espl, Mooloolaba | @wat_den_bar

W.A.T Den brings a taste of proper cocktailing to Mooloolaba, with the kind of accoutrements you might expect from a high-end big city bar; there are liquor lockers where guests can stash some good spirits, along with a big emphasis on whisky and tequila — that’s the clue to the name, by the way: whisky and tequila, W.A.T.

14. Cantina

2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach | @cantina_au

If you’re like us, and you think the best place to eat is at the bar, then — like us — you’re going to love this little Gold Coast bar. Owners and operators Missy and Harry divide their duties — Harry on the pans, Missy on the drinks and service — and make something memorable from humble surrounds. The place feels like you’re posting up at someone’s kitchen — there’s a butcher’s block behind the bar, and 1970s print curtains loosely cover the bar unders — but what they’re putting out is anything but ordinary. They’re known for their mortadella sando (which Missy calls ‘Morty’), and rightly so: the mortadella is crumbed and fried and is a triumph of the drinking food genre. But the cocktails here, classics or riff thereof, are executed perfectly: the balance, flavour, temperature — everything — spot on. It just goes to show: You don’t need the fanciest fit out in the world if you’ve got passionate people making tasty food and drink and who are genuinely interested in hosting people.

15. Bar Brutus

16. Ruby, My Dear

12 Longland St, Newstead | @rubyvinylbar

The latest effort from Brisbane restaurateurs Bonnie Shearston and Tom Sanceau is something of a return to their bar world roots (the pair opened Canvas in Brisbane in 2010 before selling it in 2013). Ruby, My Dear is a vinyl bar in Newstead that is inspired by Japanese jazz cafes — or jazz kissaten — a spark which flows through the food and drink offering, too. A dark and moody interior is home to Japanese inspired snacks (there is nothing better than togarashi-spiked chicken skins as drinking food), a smart wine list (one which picked up two glasses in the Wine List of the Year Awards, too), and approachable, delicious cocktails. It’s very good stuff.

17. Dr Gimlette

109 Edward St, Brisbane City | @dr.gimlettebrisbane

Another bar from the Cuatro Group and owners Wiebke and Martin Lange, and Blake and Belle Ward, Dr Gimlette opened in 2021 with a focus on providing superlative cocktails. The cocktails here take inspiration from the bar’s namesake, Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette, who is said to have been the one who first added lime to the British navy sailor’s daily gin ration as a means of warding off scurvy (and which would eventually result in the Gimlet).

18. Flamingos Tiki Bar

43 Esplanade, Cairns City | @flamingos_tiki_bar

You folks like your tiki, right? Co-owner and bartender Andrew Pare heads up Flamingos Tiki Bar, which brings a lot of rum and a big emphasis on tropical cocktails to the Far North. This Cairns bar has garnered attention around the country — expect riffs on tiki classics, as well as tiki must haves like the mighty Mai Tai.

19. Three Wolves

32 Abbott St, Cairns City | @threewolvescairns

Getting its name from the original ownership trio, Three Wolves was the first small cocktail bar to open in Cairns, a place better known for big booze barns and backpackers. Here you’ll find riffs on classics, hospitality that cares, and a handsome back bar stocked with good things to drink. The bar’s success has spawned something of a mini empire, with Flamingos Tiki Bar, Wolf Lane Distillery, and The Fox all falling under the group’s umbrella.

20. Hooch & Fellow

181 Flinders St, Townsville City | @hoochandfellow

Owner and bartender Josh Agostino has been fighting the good fight, making proper cocktails in Townsville for over a decade, and Hooch & Fellow is where he does it. It’s a small, intimate bar, with great hooch on the shelves and bartenders who know how to mix a good drink — it’s fair to say that it’s the best bar in town.

21. Brooklyn Standard

Eagle Ln, Brisbane City | @brooklynstandard

Brooklyn Standard is the Brisbane City bar that has been keeping the party going since 2014. The place opened when much of the CBD was a ghost town, and has been a big part of the city’s revitalisation; they’ve got live music playing five nights a week, and combine that with tasty drinks and a fun, unpretentious approach to service.

22. The Cambus Wallace

4/2237 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach | @cambuswallace

It’s the original Gold Coast small bar with good hooch. There’s a nautical theme going on here: The Cambus Wallace was a Glaswegian boat that was wrecked on Stradbroke island in 1894. There’s a good selection of spirits from around the world here, but they’re particularly strong on their whisky and rum (the Cambus Wallace was carrying Scotch when she ran aground — and explosives).

23. Theo's Social Club

2 Arcadia St, Noosa Heads | @theossocialclub

Owners Madeleine Campbell and Samuel Gray Jones have created a neighbourhood wine bar stocked with the things they love: lucky for us, that those things include French bistro classics like chicken liver parfait and steak tartare on the food menu, and they’re making classic cocktails and pouring low intervention wines that change regularly.

24. Paloma Wine Bar

12 James St, Burleigh Heads | @palomawinebar

This Burleigh Heads bar might have wine in the name on the tin, but they also do a solid line in cocktails here too. Owners Karla and Alex Munoz Labart have created a smart, chic space in which to drink some very good things.

25. Suzie Wongs Good Time Bar

678 Ann St, Fortitude Valley | @suziewongsgoodtimebar

From the team behind Brooklyn Standard, this Fortitude Valley bar is all about having a good time. There’s some tasty drinks on the list at this Hawaii-inspired joint, but you’re here for party atmosphere, with live music five nights a week — the perfect pairing to a tall glass of their OG Colada.

26. Flying Colours

63 Vulture St, West End | @flyingcolours_bar

Flying Colours is the West End bar from Simon Martin, the guy who opened Super Whatnot in Burnett Lane in the Brisbane CBD long before that was a destination for great drinking. He let the lease go in 2023, and last year opened Flying Colours on Vulture Street. Here, they pay attention to quality drinks across the spectrum: there are smart and tasty craft brews, a sharp wine list that heroes small producers, and modern cocktails with fresh fruit flavours to the fore.

27. The End Bar

73 Vulture St, West End | @theendbar

Neighbourhood joint The End does precisely what you want a great neighbourhood bar to do: they treat their guests like locals, fostering a community around them; they love good wine and drinks and offer up some delicious cocktails, too. There are regular events (trivia and karaoke feature here), and after 13 years of service to West End, a very good time to be had.

28. LOS

46 James St, Fortitude Valley | @los.landofsmiles

Fortitude Valley’s James Street is home to some great restaurants, but if you ask us, the real interest lies in its bars — like this one, above the Thai restaurant Same Same. LOS — which stands for Land of Smiles — is a smart looking bar with interesting cocktails (inspired by Thai flavours) and a focus on quality tequila. It’s a delicious combination.

29. Atelier Wine Bar

3/9 Sunshine Beach Rd, Noosa Heads | @theatelierwinebar

Atelier Wine Bar in Noosa offers a beautiful room reminiscent of a traditional wine cave, and built around one long communal table. There’s an extensive and comprehensive wine list here, with small plates (a bump of caviar, anyone?) and snacks things available.

30. Boston Shaker Bar

123 Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba | @bostonshakerbar

If you’re after well made classic cocktails up the coast, then Boston Shaker Bar in Mooloolaba is the call. This new entry to the list takes the Prohibition period as inspiration, and the drinks here lean towards the classic: Charlie Chaplins, anyone?