Where and what to drink this summer in Brisbane

Canned cocktails at Little Big House, South Brisbane.
Canned cocktails at Little Big House, South Brisbane. Photo: Supplied

There are really only a few ways to survive the skin-searing hellscape that is a Brisbane summer – beach, airconditioning and booze. But the Sunday drive back from the Sunshine Coast is akin to volunteering for purgatory and our money-hungry power companies are already riding us for all we've got, so that really only leaves option three. Here are the best joints to cool down with a cocktail, craft beer or chilled wine.

Covent Garden

A week after its soft opening, the back bar at Covent Garden was already drying up. Nobody wants the steadily encroaching high-rises to rob West End of its charm but there's clearly room for a little something new when bar manager Mathew Fearnley is calling artisan Australian gin suppliers to restock so quickly. The old multi-level Lock 'n' Load Bistro has been transformed into a tropical garden oasis. Pick a turquoise-cushioned white wire chair in the back garden and sink yet another new Aussie gin you've never heard of.

142 Boundary Street, West End, 07 3844 0142, coventgarden.com.au

Create your own charcuterie board at Gerard's Bar.

Create your own charcuterie board at Gerard's Bar. Photo: Supplied

Gerard's Bar

This hidden car park spot is a sort of candy store for adults. The first choice is what to drink – fun, smashable wine made from little-heard-of grapes varieties, or maybe a "healthy" welcome cocktail using Maidenii vermouth, celery, apple and lime. Then it's charcuterie and cheese – pick as many as you like to create your own board. Soon enough the sun will have set and that third blow-torched cheeseburger is disappearing quickly.

13A/23 James Street, Fortitude Valley, 07 3252 2606, gerardsbar.com.au

The sun-soaked verandah at Little Big House, South Brisnbane.

The sun-soaked verandah at Little Big House, South Brisnbane. Photo: Supplied

Little Big House

Cocktails in cans. Goals to serve Brisbane's best roast chicken. Laid-back vibes like your mate's place. Matt Moran's new tropical-themed venue wants to bring the chilled house party atmosphere back this summer, but with better drinks. You might remember the old Queenslander from outside South Bank Station but you probably won't recognise it. The heritage-listed Collin's Place copped a new paint job as the South Point development went up around and underneath it. A sun-soaked, wrap-around verandah is perfect for a late afternoon canned cocktail of Fireball whisky, fresh lime, apple and mint.

271 Grey Street, South Brisbane, 07 3727 3999, littlebighouse.com.au

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The Osbourne: one of the few Brisbane pubs not owned by Coles or Woolworths.

The Osbourne: one of the few Brisbane pubs not owned by Coles or Woolworths. Photo: Supplied

The Osbourne

Hey, look! It's a new Brisbane pub that's not owned by Coles or Woolies. For anyone with a passion for pubs with character, that should be enough to make you want to check the new incarnation of one of Brisbane's most historic venues. Raise a frothy glass to the rebirth of The Osbourne. Fringe Bar and Kerbside are dead and the carpark has been transformed into a pretty great beer garden. Returned to her former glory by a family of fourth-generation publicans, there are 94 taps spread around the sprawling venue pouring standard beers along with Queensland craft and a few numbers seldom spotted north of the border, such as Canberra's Capital Brewing.

766 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, 07 3252 9833, osbournehotel.com.au

Riverbar & Kitchen: The default choice for summer.

Riverbar & Kitchen: The default choice for summer. Photo: Jared Vethaak

Riverbar & Kitchen

This is the default choice to show your southern mates if they're brave enough to visit Queensland in the summer. Picnic tables with yellow-and-white umbrellas, endless strands of fairy lights, hanging plants, but most importantly, the Story Bridge / Brown Snake combo. Hot days are always best spent by the water and the food, without being spectacular, is tasty enough to keep you going into the evening. Find a shady spot beneath a mist machine and split a jug of beer or punch.

71 Eagle Street, Brisbane City, 07 3211 9020, riverbarandkitchen.com.au

Savile Row

Thanks to our good mate humidity, Brisbane nights can be as unrelenting as the days. While most summers evenings are best spent outdoors, sometimes the best bet is wrapping your lips around a top-notch cocktail in an air-conditioned den. Younger sibling to Martin Lange's West End whisky bar, Cobbler, Savile Row doesn't play favourites to a particular liquor and tackling the back bar of more than 900 spirits could be an interesting/dangerous summer challenge.

667 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, no phone

Triffid owner John Collins in the live music venue's beer garden.

Triffid owner John Collins in the live music venue's beer garden. Photo: Chris Hyde

The Triffid Beer Garden

Every Brisbane live music fan knows the story of The Triffid – a converted World War II aircraft hangar in the backstreets of Newstead run by former Powderfinger bassist John Collins and featuring killer acoustics. But the venue's beer garden is worth a look too. With a chilled vibe, a handful of shipping containers converted into bars, and a kitchen serving decent burgers, this is the fuss-free spot to crack a few tins. The garden hosts free live music sessions every week too.

7-9 Stratton Street, Newstead, 07 3171 3001, thetriffid.com.au

Valley Wine Bar

Here's the deal: you need to go to this place as often as possible this summer so everybody knows Brisbane likes wine bars and we can have more of them. The team behind Melbourne's Milton Wine Shop, Toorak Cellars, The Alps and The Moon have brought the simple and successful combo of wine by the bottle, high-quality bar snacks and a relaxed, well-designed space to Brisbane. While these are a dime a dozen in the southern states, our fair town remains criminally underserved. More than 300 drops, from traditional to new-world, line the walls, along with a strong selection of craft beer tins and spirits. Take a bottle home, or pay an extra $15 to drink in. You can order UberEats to the door, too.

179 Alfred Street, Fortitude Valley, 07 3852 4336, thevalleywinebar.com.au

Wandering Cooks

The unpredictable nature of Wandering Cooks is what makes it great. Seven nights a week the food innovation hub's epic bar is open, cracking grenades of local craft brews, bottles of pet-nat sparkling and spirits from as close as they can source them. We know the bar is kick-arse and the kitchens will be pumping excellent plates for under $15, but what we don't know is who will be running those kitchens each day. One evening you could be eating Peruvian tapas and vegan burgers, while the next day will bring bowls of mussels and Sri Lankan street food. Find a fairy-lit seat in the carpark and choose your own adventure.

Corner Cordelia Street and Fish Lane, South Brisbane, 07 3844 6000, wanderingcooks.com.au