Those of you that know me well know that I love a drink or two! What you may not know is my travel niche is writing about where to have the BEST beer, spirits or wine experience. So, it will come as no surprise that I am writing about the Top 3 Bars in Cairns.
Cairns is best known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and Fitzroy Island. But Cairns in far north Queensland is also renowned for its waterfront bars and restaurants and emerging boutique breweries and distilleries. Macalister Brewing Company in Smithfield’s industrial precinct and Mt Uncle Distillery between Mareeba and Atherton are popular destinations for liquor lovers.
Cairns has become one of the fastest-growing destinations in Australia. Tourism and construction are booming and there are three five-star Crystalbrook Collection Hotels in the centre of Cairns. Riley, Bailey and Flynn are like siblings, each is unique with its own personality but share many similarities.
Ghassan Aboud Group lead by Ghassan Aboud, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist has created over 3,000 jobs, 800+ luxury hotel rooms and suites plus injected close to $1 billion into the Cairns local economy.
Cairns may not see the same amount of foot traffic as Sydney or Melbourne, but this regional city has a lot to offer visitors. But I am here to tell you where to find the best bars and cocktails in one of Australia’s best cities. Any one of these Cairns bars will be the perfect location to toast your vacation.
It’s easy to miss the entrance to this happening Cairns laneway bar and restaurant. Three Wolves is hidden down Red Brick Laneway off Abbott Street in the centre of Cairns CBD. I was introduced to Three Wolves through their Whiskey Masterclass with Mark Hickey, an award-winning whiskey brand ambassador. Mark travels the world sharing his love of whisky production and of course whiskies.
Learning about whiskey making these days has never been easier. There is nothing quite like relaxing over some fine whiskies in a cosy bar with friends and strangers. Classes are geared around people who are interested in learning more about barley, distillation, barrels and sampling some fine quality whiskies. Three Wolves not only specialise in whiskies, they carry a large selection of beers, craft spirits, delectable cocktails and share boards and tapas style plates.
Behind closed doors, opposite Three Wolves, a new venture is humming away in an old 1900’s horse stable. Darren Barber, part owner of Three Wolves, Flamingos Tiki Bar and Gin Social as well as New South Wales Bay Rd Brewery has now opened Wolf Lane Distillery, the first Cairns city Gin distillery.
This working distillery and retail space allows locals and visitors the opportunity to enjoy a tasting or take a bottle home to share with family and friends. With the abundance of botanicals available from the region, this tropical spirit makes Wolf Lane Gin, unique from other Australian craft gins.
Red Brick Laneway may soon welcome a name change to “Wolf Lane” in honour of both businesses.
Tiki Bars have been popping up all over the world, since 1933 when Texan, Ernest Gantt better known as ‘Don the Beachcomber’ created the first Polynesian tropical-style rum bar in Hollywood. Just like Don the Beachcomber, Andrew and four good friends have created a tropical classic tiki bar serving a wide variety of exotic rum drinks and rum cocktails.
Hidden below street level on Cairns busiest street you find Flamingos Tiki Bar. This small bar offers plenty of natural light enhancing the colourful Polynesian hula girl wallpaper and tropical prints that adorn the walls. There is just a hint of kitsch with a combination of modern primitivism and piped music captures the vibe. Flamingos is the perfect place to escape and try some of Australia’s award-winning rums or sip a Flamingos original cocktail.
Flamingos runs Tiki cocktail Masterclasses for groups of six or more for those looking to improve their cocktail making skills while learning more about Tiki Culture. The bar is open Tuesday to Sunday from 4pm to late.
Wolf Lane Distillery Now Open
In the heart of Cairns and opposite Three Wolves Bar you will find Wolf Lane Distillery. The locals have waited with great anticipation for the opening on the Wolf Lane micro distillery on Abbott Street, Cairns.
Wolf Lane Distillery’s Navy Strength Gin pays homage to the history of gin and Royal British Navy that played a key role in the production of gin that we continue to enjoy today. This handcrafted gin packs a punch at 118 proof (58%); with notes of finger lime and ruby red grapefruit together with a delicious citrus-forward taste. Navy Strength Gin is only available from the cellar door.
Wolf Lane Distillery is open to the public from 11am – 4pm Monday – Friday. Tastings, bottle sales and distillery tours available daily at the distillery. The distillery Bar is open Thursday to Saturday from 4pm till late and Sunday from 2pm till late. No bookings are taken for the bar.
Sauce Brewing Co
A new brewery opened September 2020 in the heart of Cairns CBD. Sauce Brewing Co is a welcome addition to Cairns and the growing liquor tourism in Queensland. The Cairns Brewpub and bottleshop are located on Lake Street.
This exciting independent microbrewery started in Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Marrickville before heading north to Cairns City Centre. At Sauce, they love the diversity of craft beer and love creating flavoursome beers that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Whether you’re a sour freak or hop head or just like good quality, drinkable ales, Sauce Brewing Co have a craft beer for you.
You can view menus here
Address: 30-40 Lake Street, Cairns, QLD
The world has gone mad over gin! This trendy drink is globally celebrated each year on World Gin Day. Like the rest of the world, Australia’s gin distillery industry is flourishing with new distilleries and brands launched each year.
To celebrate the humble juniper berry and other amazing gins and gin cocktails head to Gin Social and experience a sense of luxury at Hilton Hotel Cairns, located on Cairns Esplanade.
Gin Social also has a large wine, beer and spirits selection for those who wish to indulge in something other than gin.
Boasting absolute waterfront, Gin Social is a beautiful location and great venue for any size celebration. Just 2 minutes’ walk from the Reef Fleet Terminal and a 5-minute walk to Cairns CBD and Convention Centre.
Following a busy day of sight-seeing, enjoy a relaxing curated cocktail at Gin Social and take in the spectacular Cairns water views and tropical climate.
Address: 34 The Esplanade, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
Palm Cove Wine & Cheese Bar
Palm Cove is a favourite haunt for both locals and visitors. The beach village is full of trendy restaurants, barista coffeehouses, fashion boutiques and day spas. Along the entire esplanade are swaying palms and gigantic paperbark trees providing plenty of shade from the harsh summer sun.
The quaint beach village is a popular wedding destination with an abundance of accommodation styles. It’s not uncommon to spot a celebrity or two enjoying the relaxed lifestyle at Palm Cove with family and friends.
Like Cairns CBD, Palm Cove has several great bars offering the most delicious wines and cocktails from Australia and around the globe. Third on the Left is a newish wine and cheese bar that visitors have been waiting for. Put this classy wine bar at the top of your list to-do when in Palm Cove. You can take a trip around the world through the extensive wine menu of exceptional wines. The range of delicious Australian cheeses is the perfect complement to share over a glass or two of fine wine. Beer drinkers and spirit lovers are also catered for.
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