Billerwell Daye, Helen Bird and Marcus Allison of John Mills Himself Cafe and Bar on Elizabeth Street.
Billerwell Daye, Helen Bird and Marcus Allison of John Mills Himself Cafe and Bar on Elizabeth Street. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Natascha Mirosch

Brisbane's most unique (and possibly smallest) new cafe-bar has opened in a heritage listed building on Charlotte Street.

John Mills Himself is believed to be Australia's first "all local liquor" bar and cafe.

Located in the John Mills building, the new venue is at the back of the premises overlooking a workaday back alley and is accessed via a driveway in Elizabeth Street. Built in 1919, it was originally home to a printing and stationary business and had "John Mills Himself" spelt out in brick on the facade when it was built, believed to be a reference to Mills's sole trader status.

Coffee at John Mills Himself.
Coffee will be a rotation of locally roasted beans by Cup Coffee, The Single Guys and Uncle Joe's. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

“Historically this would have been where deliveries like ink and equipment would have been made,” says Helen Bird of Street Food Australia and Pearler design studio, co-owner of the new venue with Billerwell Daye also of Pearler and Marcus Allison of Bunker Coffee in Milton.

Allison will be running the coffee operation, while Bird and Daye look after the bar side of things. Coffee will be a rotation of locally roasted beans by Cup Coffee, The Single Guys and Uncle Joe's with milk from Queensland's Maleny Dairy and Barambah Organics. Once the liquor side is up and running within the next fortnight, drinkers will be able to order a "pony" – a 5oz glass size used at the turn of the century, made to order for the bar.

“It makes sense in Queensland's hot weather," Bird says. “By the time you get two-thirds of the way through a standard beer here, it's warm. And this way, if workers just want a quick one at lunch time, can have a small one or taste a couple and still be OK to go back to work.”

There will also be "10 oz" glasses available.

All five local beers and one cider at the petite bar will be on tap rather than bottle to keep the bar's carbon footprint and wastage as small as possible, Bird says.

All the mixers and liquor from tonic water to rum are all from Australian producers, and the wine list is all Queensland. Once the food licence is in hand, there will be a short bar menu of locally produced salumi, cheese and in-house cured pickles.

John Mills Himself is accessed via the driveway at 55 Elizabeth Street and is open from 6.30am, currently Monday-Friday but check the Facebook page for updates.