Covent Garden, West End: With a back bar stocked to the brim with more than 400 gins, Covent Garden is easily one of Brisbane’s best watering holes for gin lovers. Looking to showcase the best of Australia’s craft gin movement, Covent Garden’s libation list is infused with native botanicals – including a selection of Red Snappers (bloody Mary’s made on gin), classic cocktails and signatures.
Proud Henry, Fortitude Valley: This wine bar and ginoteca is a cosy gin-filled oasis in the heart of Brisbane’s buzzing nightlife precinct. The gin selection here tallies roughly 280 options from around the world (many sourced from travels abroad). Not only does the Proud Henry team pride itself on creating the perfect gin and tonic, it’s dedicated to educating the public on all things gin – from the story of artisanal craftspeople to boundary-pushing flavour combinations.
Eleven Bridges, South Brisbane: Although a newcomer to the city’s bar scene, South Brisbane bar, eatery and craft distillery Eleven Bridges makes up for its youth with a killer gin selection. First of all, Eleven Bridges stocks 110 varieties from Australia and abroad, funnelling some of its best drops into a range of house cocktails that will even satisfy non-gin drinkers. If you are keen to bolster your liquor cabinet at home, Eleven Bridges’ own small-batch bottles – the William Jolly Summer Gin and Tasmanian pinot-noir gin – are worth adding to the collection.
Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess, Fortitude Valley: One of Queensland’s first gin bars, two-storey venue Dutch Courage looks to take sippers back to the beginnings of gin culture – when geographical and libation frontiers were being catalogued simultaneously. Of Dutch Courage’s 200-strong spirit selection, 140 bottles contain gin. The bar’s cocktail list is famed for its shared concoctions, including the Hendrick’s teapot and bathtub drinks (we suggest splitting these with pals). In addition to the sips, Dutch Courage also hosts gin tasting and gin degustation experiences.
Brisbane Distillery Company, West End: Sure, if you’re reading this you probably like drinking gin. What about making it? We thought that might get your attention. West End-based distillery Brisbane Distillery is championing the craft gin-making scene here in town, and it’s sharing its grain-to-grass process to enthusiasts looking to learn the tricks of the trade. If you’re content with sampling the finished product, Brisbane Distillery’s bar is the place to sip on its full range of spirits and cocktails.
Blind Tiger, The Gap: Before they were dispensing and distilling gin in South Brisbane, the Eleven Bridges team opened Blind Tiger at The Gap Village. Here, guests can elevate their G&T by asking for one of 100 boutique gins on hand, or order one of Blind Tiger’s six gin-based cocktails. Paired that with some Asian-inspired bar food and you’ve got a recipe for a great night out.
Bosc, West End: The booze merchants at Bosc (Bar of Social Conscience) are known to dispense all sorts of quality quaffs, but beer and gin is undoubtedly its specialty. It’s not unusual for the bar to spotlight new botanical-infused Australian-made additions to its back bar. Naturally these spirits are distilled into a terrific colour-soaked cocktail menu – but gin-and-tonic drinkers are more than welcome, too!
Honourable mention: This is by no means an exhaustive list of bars in Brisbane – merely some that pay close attention to gin. Other watering holes have hundreds of bottles lining the walls, many of which are likely to be top-notch gins. Be sure to check out Savile Row in Fortitude Valley, The Gresham, Death and Taxes, Super Whatnot and John Mills Himself in The City, Maker in South Brisbane, and Canvas Club in Woolloongabba.