Laneway, 195 Elizabeth St, Brisbane CBD
If there is ever a complaint levelled at Brisbane’s nightlife, it’s a lack of late-night bars. But no more. Industry veteran and Frog’s Hollow owner, Peter Hollands has gone out on his own to open Alice Bar, which is now open seven days a week until 3am.
Alice is found down an unused laneway on Elizabeth St. Simply follow the red lights and you can’t miss it. Head down the stairs to the basement for an old-school boozer dedicated to 80’s rock, cocktails lots of bourbon. The big highlights here are the 13-metre bar top, and a 100 Disk AMI Jukebox, dedicated to your rock favourites.
Peter has pulled together one of the most experienced management teams Brisbane has seen. Michael Pattison (Suzie Wongs, Brooklyn Standard, The Bowery) leads the venue and is ably assisted by Brendon Osmers (Gerards Bar, The Gresham, The Bowery). The venue offers a cracker list of cocktails, with a focus on quality serves and classic flavours. The back bar features a 150+ bourbon list for the corn-whiskey lovers.
We asked Bar Manager Michael to answer a few questions about life behind the late-night bar just a couple of weeks after the doors had opened, and here’s what he had to say.
Tell us a bit about how you got started in the hospitality industry and where you have worked before.
I started as an 18-year-old glassy working in nightclubs in Fortitude Valley. After a couple of months of picking up cups till 5am I was lucky to secure a position as a barback at The Bowery. For the next four years I sunk my head into cocktail books and learnt everything I could about classic cocktails eventually moving up to the roll of bartender and then manager. After my stint at The Bowery, I took a position as an operations manager for the Drunken Monkey Group (Brooklyn Standard, Suzie Wongs & Fat Angel) and learnt how to operate live music party bars. After six years in that role I teamed up with Peter Hollands putting my experience of classic cocktail venues and rowdy party venues together to create Alice.
Are you a classics or an experimental kind of bartender?
Classics through and through.
What does a shift behind the bar at Alice look like? Run us through a day in your shoes.
I will usually get to Alice a couple of hours before open, I will clean the venue from the previous night and make sure everything on the other side of the bar is presentable and ready to go for the night, if anything needs to be fixed this is when I will do it. With 1 hour before open I will shift my focus to the bar and assist the bar team with anything that needs to be done behind the bar.
Once the doors are open my role is mostly to oversee the operations of the venue and control the vibe of the room. Lighting, temperature and sound need to adjust throughout the night to make sure everyone is having the best experience that Alice can offer on both sides of the bar. My overall goal for the night is to make sure we have thrown a damn good party.
What are some of the things you love about the Brisbane bar industry?
I love the Brisbane bar scene, watching it grow over the last 10 years has been amazing and I’m excited to see where the next 10 years take it. The sense of community is second to none, everyone in the industry is there to support and lift everyone else up. The variety of venues has grown so much that you can really choose your vibe and there will be a venue for that, It used to be just the pub, the club or the occasional rooftop bar.
Lighting, temperature and sound need to adjust throughout the night to make sure everyone is having the best experience that Alice can offer on both sides of the bar. My overall goal for the night is to make sure we have thrown a damn good party.
Some of the things you hate?
At the moment it has been when patrons complain that there is too much 80s rock being played at the 80s rock-inspired venue
What advice do you have for rookie bartenders starting out in their careers? Were there any big mistakes you made you’d like to see others avoid?
Spend time doing every role within the venue, don’t just be the bartender, be the glassy, be the DJ, be the repair man, be the cleaner, the more skills that you learn on both sides of the bar will make you a better operator.
When you walk into a bar, what are you looking for? What makes a great bar experience?
It’s the escapism for me, I want to be engaged within the confines of the venue and completely forget about the world outside. I call them crab pots, once I’m in I can’t get out.
Best person to work with?
Peter Hollands, I have learnt more in my short time working with Pete at Alice than the rest of my career
Who inspires you?
My Family, in and out of the industry
What are you drinking right now?
The boilermaker of choice for all of the crew at Alice & Frog’s Hollow: Buffalo Trace & XXXX Gold
Top 5 Favourite Bars
Frog’s Hollow Saloon, Cry Baby, Ramblin Rascals, Shady Pines Saloon, The Gresham