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Historic Brisbane Buildings Where You Can Have a Drink

27th June 2017

So, you think Brisbane is lacking in historical gems? This collection of beautiful buildings will make you think again.

In fact, the capital of Queensland has so many historic darlings that we needed another filter to narrow down the list. Not only are the following buildings and landmarks easy on the eyes, you can enjoy their time-tested charm over a glass of wine.

Sit back, soak up the vintage charm and enjoy these historic Brisbane buildings over a drink or two. 

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Photo: Kennigo Social House, Mantra Richmont Hotel
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Kennigo Social House Brisbane

Kennigo Social House, Spring Hill

In the 1880s Kennigo Social House was a men’s boarding house, although proprietor Irene insisted on “respectable gentlemen only”. Irene also required her boarders to be punctual for their evening meal; a civilised affair complete with polite banter.  

Irene’s name adorns the lintel of Kennigo Social House’s dining room and her legacy is palpable in the ambience of this caringly restored space. Whether you’re stopping by for a schooner or staying for dinner, you and your companion will feel compelled to linger for a satisfying chinwag.

Burnett Lane, Brisbane CBD

Burnett Lane is a little afterthought that runs off Albert Street, just metres from the shopping hotspot of Queen Street Mall. It’s Brisbane’s oldest lane, and was once the site of the Prisoner’s Barracks Yard, where the settlement’s first hanging took place in 1830.

This once neglected backstreet is now a trendy walkway, with converted warehouse cafe/bars like Super Whatnot and Felix for Goodness vying for attention. It’s a top spot to take a break from shopping, or to instantly increase your hipster rating.

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Photo: The APO Brisbane
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APO historical Brisbane building

The APO, Fortitude Valley

Established in 1862, the Apothecaries Hall once dispensed exotic medical goods to the people of Brisbane. It is now an unassuming shop front on Ann Street, its subtly gorgeous facade overshadowed by neighbouring nightclubs and kitschy shops.

Step into a schmick haven that embraces the historic brick of the heritage-listed building and throws in some gleaming wood for good measure. The menu has a Middle Eastern twist and the drink selection includes Aperol Spritz Ice Pops - it’s a charismatic space that offers something different from the usual line up of watering holes in the Valley.

Spicers Balfour, New Farm

The Queenslander is a building design that holds a special place in the heart of Brisbane locals. These stilt-legged wooden houses are the pride of our most beautiful neighbourhoods; a title that New Farm wears with finesse.

Spicers Balfour is an artfully restored Queenslander, boasting just nine boutique suites, a common dining room, kitchen and living area, with a rooftop bar being the unexpected crowning gem.

The Balfour Kitchen is open to the public for those wishing to enjoy the experience of dining alfresco on a classic Queensland wraparound verandah. Quickly becoming known for an inspired menu, this suburban secret is minutes from the CBD but a divine departure from city living.

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Customs House Brisbane, circa 1898
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Historical building Brisbane Customs House

Customs House, Brisbane CBD

This green-domed beauty sits on the banks of the Brisbane River, its grand columns and timeless charm making it a wedding venue of choice.

Brides aren’t the only ones who get to enjoy the magic of a time gone by; the restaurant at Customs House offers unique views over the river through glorious French doors. During the summer, a pop-up bar on the lawn invites you to stay for an Aperol Spritz, and High Tea at Customs House is a winner in any season.

The Reservoir, Spring Hill

Six metres underground, the Spring Hill Reservoir is a series of former water storage caverns that boasts sensational acoustics. Spectator seats are set along four arms of the arched caverns, and shows include West End to Broadway musical showcases and more traditional opera.

While we’re not sure if you can have a drink in the reservoir, the extraordinary setting will more than make up for it. The Reservoir is just a few minutes from the heart of Brisbane City, where world-class bars and restaurants wait to greet you after the show. 

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Photo: Underground Opera, Spring Hill Reservoir
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Spring Hill Reservoir Brisbane history


The Treasury Building, Brisbane CBD

Built on the site of the former convict Officers’ Quarters and Military Barracks, the Brisbane Treasury Building was built in the late 1800s. A competition was held to choose the best design, but the winning submission was scrapped in favour of the four-storey design that Brisbanites know and love today.

Perhaps one of the reasons this historic Brisbane building is so well-loved is that it is home to the Treasury Casino, an entertainment complex that boasts some of the city’s favourite late-night bars and restaurants.