From ritzy hotel bars with all the trimmings to laidback craft beer bars in historic buildings and speakeasy cocktail bars hidden down laneways, there’s a Hobart bar for every occasion (and palate).
Hobart may be a compact little city yet it’s anything but one-dimensional. Behind its sandstone walls and cobbled streets, Salamanca Place has a wealth of history while sprawling bohemian NoHo (North Hobart) is a great spot for people watching and the city’s CBD is scattered with local corporate souls. As a result, Hobart’s bar scene boasts an equally alluring cross-section of watering holes, from hip wine bars to grungy haunts, live music bars and sleek as can-be cocktail joints.
Kristie Hayden and Leanne Clancey explore the burgeoning drinks scene to bring you the best bars in Hobart.
1. The Story Bar
The Story Bar at the stunning MACq 01 Hotel has brought a new level of glitz and glam to the local bar scene. Grab a fireside posse, order some Tassie sparkling and allow your spirit to be soothed by the twinkling lights on the water.
The Story Bar features lush interiors. (Image: The Story Bar)
Revellers, pull up a retro bar stool indoors around the caged cork bar at Grape or settle under one of the heated canopies outside. The Sunday session is in order. Move to groovy jazz tunes from local musos under exposed-beamed ceilings fit for the set of Game of Thrones.
An impressive selection of Tasmanian, Australian and international wines nestle in racks against the sandstone walls creating a cellar-cum-cave like atmosphere tempting the palate.
From the ever-evolving menu, slurp on Tasmanian oysters, munch on pork belly or fried chicken sliders or brave the crowd favourite, jalapeno and smoked cheddar croquettes.
An impressive selection of wines adorns the sandstone walls. (Image: Grape Food and Wine Bar)
3. Jack Greene
They say crowds flock for the craft beers and gourmet burgers at Jack Greene (and they’re good), but really this place is all about atmosphere. A sea of pendant lights hang from the ceiling like caged fireflies, hundreds of beer coasters and books pose as artwork on rafters and walls, and patrons cram around the marble bar.
Ascend from the dimly lit European-inspired tavern up the stairs to another room where a quieter atmosphere inspires conversation from big leather and velvet armchairs next to an open fireplace amid antique furniture with views of Salamanca.
Crowds flock to Jack Greene for craft beers and gourmet burgers. (Image: Dale Baldwin)
4. Lark Distillery
In winter, when bracing gales are whipping off the top of snow-capped kunanyi/Mount Wellington, cosy old fave, the Cellar Door at Lark Distillery makes for a fitting refuge. With over 150 single malts on offer, you’ll be toasty in no time.
The Cellar Door at Lark Distillery makes for a fitting refuge from cold weather. (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne)
5. The Whaler
Retaining its old-English-style pub feel from the good old days when it was frequented by sailors, whalers and ‘fine’ women, The Whaler (formerly Knopwood Retreat) has a truly historic atmosphere and was actually the first watering hole in Salamanca.
The sweeping curved nautical-inspired bar punctuated with vibrant leadlight windows holds up an old faithful contingent plus a steady flow of tourists.
Serving locally produced Gillespie’s alcoholic ginger beer plus 14 tap draught beers and a bloody mary menu, there are so many choices you’d be “bloody fussy” not to find something to your liking, well, that’s what the staff say anyway.
The Whaler’s old-English-style pub feel from the good old days. (Image: The Whaler)
6. Waterman’s Hotel
Fancy a little taste of Japan in Hobart? You’ll be happy to stumble upon this treasure, if only for a unique range of Japanese craft beer on tap. Some seriously avant-garde brews line the menu too, such as the Coedo Beniaka Imperial Sweet Potato Amber, which delivers on both name-length and punchy malty caramel-y taste. “We want to push people out of their comfort zone with beer choices,” says Manager Isabell.
Move from beer to wine and lounge amid sandstone walls and arches, absorbing two hundred years of architecture and a glass of Bruny Island unwooded chardonnay.
An award-winning restaurant dishing up modern local cuisine and some of the best cocktail shakers in town render Waterman’s Hotel (formerly Quarry Salamanca) the full package.
The Waterman’s Hotel brings a little taste of Japan to Hobart. (Image: The Waterman’s Hotel)
7. The Glass House
For more killer waterside views, The Glass House, set on Sullivan’s Cove makes a superb perch for pre-dinner cocktails or a deep immersion into Tasmanian wine and spirits. An entire bar wall is in fact dedicated to whisky and gin, all sourced from the Apple Isle. And should hunger strike, you’re in excellent hands with this Hobart bar’s share plate menu.
The Glass House on Sullivan’s Cove makes a superb perch for pre-dinner cocktails. (Image: The Glass House)
8. IXL Long Bar
Housed within the historic Henry Jones Art Hotel, IXL Long Bar is a cosy spot to pull up a pew on a brisk winter’s eve, with all-stone walls and beamed ceilings. But the atmospheric Hobart bar also boasts a carefully curated cocktail menu that features a smattering of barrel-aged cocktails in addition to its cocktail specials and a selection of quirky house signatures (whisky fans need not look beyond the ‘Island of Fire’ served hot and alight).
The atmospheric IXL Long Bar boasts a carefully curated cocktail menu. (Image: The Henry Jones and Adam Gibson)
A sliver of a place, this Hobart wine bar feels positively continental thanks to its chalkboard menu, moody lighting, intimate seating arrangement and vinyl music soundtrack. Founded by chef Matt Breen (of Templo restaurant fame), Sonny’s principal draw cards are its fresh handmade pasta and an ever-changing Tassie-leaning wine list.
Enjoy wining, dining, and dancing at Sonny’s Wine Bar. (Image: Remi Chauvin)
10. Pablo’s Cocktails and Dreams
The speakeasy trend that shows no signs of abating hasn’t passed Hobart by. Pablo’s promises a laneway location, a full roster of live music and, as the name would imply, some serious cocktails to boot.
Great cocktails come hand-in-hand with good music at Pablo’s Cocktails and Dreams. (Image: Pablo’s Cocktails and Dreams)
11. Void Bar
Would this even be an article on Hobart if it didn’t mention the ever-divisive city landmark that kickstarted its revival? The catch-all destination catering to every last whim, naturally MONA has a bar worth shouting about. Nuzzled seventeen metres underground, in a cavernous sandstone space, Void Bar proudly proclaims to have Australia’s earliest happy hour, shaking martinis from 10am.
Grab a morning martini just because you can at the iconic Void Bar. (Image: Mona and Rémi Chauvin)
Looking at other things to do and see in Hobart? We’ve got you covered with our ultimate travel guide to the city.