It’s not surprising for a new bar in Brisbane to be hidden away in a basement or suburban shop front. Nowadays, a top secret location is almost as important to a bar as it is to MI6. But as any good spy knows, the real challenge is staying hidden in plain sight. So it’s safe to say new Southbank bar Maker is James Bond’s kind of place.
One of the many new venues flooding into Fish Lane recently, Maker sits in the segment between Grey Street and Hope Street, behind The Fox. If you’ve been to Julius Pizzeria, you’ve probably seen Maker without noticing it.
The location is central, but the doorway does an excellent job of deflecting your attention. There’s no sign outside, and the dark glass makes it hard to tell whether the lights are on unless you’re right in front of the door.
Determined to get a drink or embarrass myself trying, I went inside.
Most hidden bars opt for a 1920s speakeasy theme – all exposed brick walls and old-timey slang. Here again, Maker stands out by standing back. The single room is a mahogany den, with the brass bar running almost the entire length of the space, and downlights just bright enough to let you know they’re there.
You can sit up at the bar, or stand at one of the wall mounted wooden tables. It’s a simple, classic fit-out: cosy and undeniably classy.
The drinks list is simple, too, although there’s nothing basic about the drinks themselves. Maker has an impressive range of Australian wines and staff who know much more about them than I do. The selection of quality local beers includes a fruity saison ale brewed especially for Maker.
Refreshingly, the local sourcing extends to spirits as well. Bottles of Australian vodka and gin come out in place of Smirnoff and Gordon’s every time.
The cocktails are some of the most original in Brisbane. There are only 5 menu options for now, including a sharp, sweet mix of gin and frangipani, and a whiskey and coffee concoction with a piece of fresh honeycomb on the side.
Experimental drinks always come with a certain risk, but I loved every cocktail I ordered here. Maker is the place to try some things you just won’t get anywhere else. When the bartender excitedly told me how he decided to make one of the other cocktails thicker by adding whey, I realised that attention to detail is what these drinks are all about.
Food isn’t available at Maker yet, but the glass cabinet of smoked meats on the back wall suggests it will be a cut above the standard bowl of chips.
It’s rare to see a bar at Southbank that isn’t just aiming to draw a crowd. Maker doesn’t have the space for a mass audience, but its warmth, flair, and originality will certainly attract a cult following.
Maker has no online presence (Edit: it now has an Instagram), so if you want to try something special at Southbank, here are its opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 4pm – midnight.