The bar scene in Cairns & Great Barrier Reef is as hot as the tropical sun. Laneway bars and distilleries, micro-breweries (one overlooking a sugar cane field), cocktail lounges, and rooftop bars are ready to welcome delegates.
How do you find the perfect spot for a catch up with an industry friend you haven’t seen since the last event? Where can you debrief with colleagues about the breakout sessions before heading to the gala dinner? When do you pull up stumps, and grab a quiet moment to yourself in a dimly lit corner with a stiff drink after networking all day?
Cairns & Great Barrier Reef has a bar fit for every occasion, whether you’re a cocktail connoisseur, beer buff, gin junkie or simply love a glass of wine with a view.
Round up colleagues after the gala dinner and head to the dance floor at BAR36. With live music most nights of the week, celebrations can continue long after the CEO has gone to bed. BAR36 at Pullman Reef Hotel Casino has a mix of tables and lounge-style seating, so you’ll be comfy off the dance floor as well.
Barbados Port Douglas
The award-winning Barbados Port Douglas overlooks the Coral Sea and in true Caribbean-style, you can lounge back with a signature rum cocktail on one of their many daybeds. Relax as the sun disappears over the mountains and the boats drift into the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina after reefing all day.
Boardwalk Social by Crystalbrook
With its plethora of indoor hanging plants, green wicker chairs and more natural light than you can possibly fit into a photo Boardwalk Social at Crystalbrook Flynn is the place to be. Less standalone bar and more market-inspired precinct, forget what you know of hotel bars because this one bucks the trend. You’ll find 36 beers on tap and 40 gins catering to a broad palette.
Flamingos Tiki Bar
Say Aloha to Flamingos Tiki Bar, Cairns’ own modern interpretation of a Polynesian bar, hiding beneath street level on the Esplanade. Their extensive cocktail menu features beverages served in glassware as Instagrammable as the small bar itself. They sum it up perfectly themselves “more than just a liquid, our drinks are an experience”.
Hemingway’s Brewery Cairns Wharf & Port Douglas
Not all heroes wear capes – some drink 7th Heaven Tropical Ale and save the reef while they’re at it. Ordering a schooner Hemingway’s Brewery’s Cairns Wharf or Port Douglas helps reef research with 50% of the profits from their Tropical Ale donated to the Great Barrier Reef Legacy. Their house-made brews give a nod to their tropical location, so you can give your taste buds a tour of North Queensland.
Iron Bar Port Douglas
Iron Bar is as iconic to Port Douglas as the palm trees lining the driveway to Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas. Found in the middle of Macrossan Street (Port Douglas’ main street), you are guaranteed to take home a story or two from your visit to the bar clad in rusted corrugated iron. Traditionally a steakhouse restaurant, as the sun goes down the vibe goes up – don’t be surprised if you catch a round of cane toad racing.
Jimmy Rum’s Mixing Lounge
A dark and mysterious prohibition style bar, Jimmy Rum’s Mixing Lounge in Port Douglas will impress with their selection of speciality drinks. Minimising wastage is a huge part of the lounge’s philosophy, with staff encouraged to be creative with ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away.
Oak & Vine
If you like the idea of enjoying a brew with a view, take the elevator to the rooftop of Oaks Cairns to find Oak & Vine. Making the most of its Coral Sea frontage, Oak & Vine draws a crowd with some of the best views in Cairns served up alongside Peruvian share plates, signature cocktails and a selection of artisan gins.
Rocco By Crystalbrook
Cairns’ highest bar, Rocco, at the top of Crystalbrook Riley, is the Mediterranean jewel in this five-star hotel’s crown. Soak up panoramic views of the Coral Sea and Cairns Esplanade from its 12th floor location. While you might be happy sharing the tapas menu, Rocco’s cocktails are best savoured solo.
It doesn’t get better than the waterfront Salt House at Cairns Marlin Marina. Every table has a view of Trinity Inlet, the Coral Sea and Cairns’ surrounding mountains from its modern, boat-shed design. If you’re not doing dinner and drinks in the main restaurant, head straight to the bar section with its day beds, ponds and fire features.
Sauce Brewing Co
Sauce Brewing Co pours liquid gold (aka craft beers) from their Cairns brewpub. Stocking all their favourite indie brews – Hopsauce pale ale, Caribbean Fog hazy pale ale and Simples premium lager (to name a few). Pull up a stool and taste the small-batch difference. Not into beer? No worries, the drinks list has more than one nectar of the gods.
The Backyard is not your typical hotel bar, attracting more than the Shangri-La Cairns’ in-house guests with its converted shipping container bar, relaxed alfresco vibe, and ocean breezes. Pick one of the grassed, paved or gravel levels to sip under festoon lights and point out which yacht should be yours.
The Conservatory Bar
With 350 different drops on the menu, the collection at The Conservatory Bar speaks to the owner’s experience in the industry. Resembling a traditional Queenslander on the outside, inside you’ll be met with chandeliers and chesterfields, creating a cosy speakeasy vibe.
At the end of an unassuming lane flanked by red brick walls, delegates will discover premium small bar, Three Wolves. An intimate bar in Cairns CBD serving speciality whiskey with tapas, wine and cocktails. Founded by The Wolf Pack, Three Wolves is one of many boutique bars dotted around the region, hand crafted by the group.
Whiskey & Wine by Crystalbrook
Putting a modern spin on the classic whiskey and wine garden, and taking its name in the process, this second-level bar sets Crystalbrook Flynn apart from the rest. Whiskey & Wine By Crystalbrook has local and imported wines to satisfy every palette, and with an expansive whiskey selection and cocktail blends, delegates will be left spoilt for choice.
Wolf Lane Distillery
Bounce across the lane from Three Wolves to Wolf Lane Distillery for an award-winning house-made gin. Meet the makers behind the heavyset wooden double doors, and taste test the tropics with spirits infused with mango, grapefruit, finger lime and davidson plum inside a converted 1900s horse stable. That’s where all good gin is made, right?