The best happy hours on the Gold Coast
From cosy cocktail and whisky bars to trendy breweries and speakeasys – we round up the best places to end your day, the local's way in this Queensland city.
- December 2018
One block from Coolangatta Beach, it’s impossible to resist the allure of this neighbourhood bar opens in new window – it used to be a magic shop, after all. Its name means “pocket” in Italian (the low-key owners have Sicilian heritage) and it’s the perfect spot to enjoy sun-drenched afternoons underneath the sprawling tree out front, working through the wine list of natural pours from young gun winemakers. But it’s the cocktails that really shine – literally shimmering on the granite bar – like the herbal Gin T composed of Brookies Dry Gin, green chartreuse, lemon, ginger and rhubarb bitters. From 3:00pm on Sundays, say cheers to their $12 cocktails and $8 house wines.
Fire Cue, Nobby Beach
Go straight for top-shelf tipples at happy hour prices with $9 cocktails, $7 wines and $5 beers from 5:30-6:30pm on Tuesday to Saturday, then stay for the hand-pressed tacos and juicy ribs at this industrial-style venue. Adam Dundas-Taylor knows what makes for a good time, having cooked for the likes of Elton John and Kate Moss. When he returned to Australia to open this restaurant opens in new window, it quickly drew a loyal crowd. Kickstart proceedings with a knockout mezcal Negroni or ruby red grapefruit spritz and see where the evening takes you.
What was originally a six-month pop-up in an old bike shop has turned into a three-year bender at this tiki-style watering hole. To find it, hit the backstreets of Broady and look for the neon pineapple sign. You could argue it’s always happy hour at Aloha opens in new window but between 5:00-7:00pm every night, you’re guaranteed a heap of deals: $5 beers with a rotation of local stars such as Black Hops, Balter and Stone and Wood, $10 daiquiris and the rum punch of the day, alongside cheap eats like $1 dumplings or $2 tacos. The incognito vibe worked for the cast of Thor, who retreated here most nights while filming on the Gold Coast.
The Island Rooftop, Surfers Paradise
South Beach chic meets Gold Coast glam at The Island Rooftop opens in new window with pastel peach undertones, acapulco chairs and potted palm trees. Once notorious for its 1990s schoolies clientele, it now caters for locals and travellers alike. Follow the crowd on Gin and Jazz Thursdays from 6:30pm, the open-air bar errs towards more British tastes with the Gin Society – $50 will get you four gin cocktails and roaming canapés served up to live jazz. It’s the type of happy hour that lasts for three.
Balter Brewery, Currumbin
It may seem silly to drive over two kilometres west of the beach to an industrial estate for a drink, but surfers and founders Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and the Balter crew opens in new window have a bit of pull. Wooden barn doors and astroturf soften the brick warehouse space, with beers poured mere metres from where it’s brewed. On Thursdays from 3:00-8:00pm, score $5 tinnies and tacos from the food truck parked out front. On Fridays from 3:00-5:00pm, Local’s Hour has $5 XPA schooners for all.
Garden Kitchen and Bar, Broadbeach
Pop on your garden party finery and sip $12 cocktails and $6 beers from 5:00-6:00pm Monday to Friday at Garden Kitchen and Bar opens in new window within The Star, Gold Coast. Stake your spot near the DJ at the outdoor bar before the festoon lighting twinkles to life. Live music and a free-flowing champagne lunch for $99 is the choice to make for weekend visits – although the Moet & Chandon vending machine is almost worth a visit in itself.
Lockwood Bar, Burleigh Heads
Track down the red door in a Burleigh lane, text a number and inhale the scent of the cedar-lined ceiling as you step inside this sassy speakeasy opens in new window. The bolero hat-wearing bartenders may be wielding a blowtorch behind the bar or belting out a tune at the piano – anything goes at this bar. You might find $5 mimosas one night or $20 pickleback and cocktail combos another. The attraction here is sitting at the concrete bar and leaving all your decision-making in the knowledgeable bartender’s capable hands.
Scottish Prince, Palm Beach
Push open the door with the porthole and enter the cosy land of the Scottish Prince opens in new window, a space clad in timber panelling and nautical paraphernalia. Graze on British pub favourites like scotch eggs and marinated sardines while listening to live musicians with smoky vocals. $5 glasses of riesling and GSM and $5 tap beers from 5:00-6:00pm Tuesday to Thursday and 4:00-6:00pm Friday to Sunday, consider it a warm-up to their wall of 289 whiskies.