There are endless spots to enjoy a quintessential holiday cocktail from Caloundra all the way up to Noosa. But if you’re looking for a bar where you can mingle with locals and slip into that chilled Sunny Coast lifestyle, you’ll want to deviate from the well-known tourist strips.
Navigate your way to the backstreets and lesser-known ‘burbs with this list of Sunshine Coast bars the locals love.
The cafe strip in Moffat Beach, Caloundra is well known but the new-and-improved Pocket Espresso (in what was once the local newsagent for decades) is bringing in a new wave of punters after dark.
Start your weekend off with their Thursday trivia and Friday night live tunes, then nab a spot in the sunny courtyard for a cruise-y Sunday sesh.
The food menu here is as much a star as the drinks with sinfully good mac’n’cheese bites through to soft shell crab baos and a Mexi plate designed to share.
Not too long ago you would have been forgiven for driving straight down to the end of the Mooloolaba Spit but now there’s a damn fine reason to pull over and meet the breezy Hamptons vibes of Pier 33, in what was once the Mooloolaba Yacht Club.
Locals love it for the grassy knoll facing the yachts where kids can play and adults can sip rosé and eat bar snacks like spanner crab rolls with Kewpie and tobiko.
Italy might have its Aperol Spritz but here it’s all about the Salt Air Spritz, made with Beefeater gin, peach bitters, olive brine, rosemary, coffee beans and salted olives topped with sparkling wine.
Kiki Bar & Eatery
Move away from Maroochydore‘s Ocean Street strip towards the Maroochy River and keep your eyes peeled for the fairy lights wrapped around the palm trees at Kiki Bar.
Pull up a chair in the sunny courtyard out front or on a green velvet stool at the bar and order a Slow Gin Smash. The oh-so-Sunshine Coast version is topped with kombucha on tap.
Munch on your complimentary truffle popcorn while you deliberate over a beer or gin tasting paddle. And if “just one” turns into a longer night, fuel your belly with share dishes like Hervey Bay scallops with chorizo oil, chilli caramel mushrooms and beef tartare.
A skate shop next to Aldi might not be the likeliest place to find a bar with vibes as cool as these but at Stoker Brewhouse, you’ll always find a friendly local on for a chat.
Operating as a coffee shop by day, come golden hour, the focus shifts to wine, three beers on tap and a nice selection of whiskies. But it’s not only alcohol on offer; they also happen to serve a mighty fine coffee and have coconut water and kombucha in the fridge.
While there’s no food, a short wander two blocks east will deliver you to Umami ramen for a noodle-slurping good time.
Hastings Street in Noosa has plenty of glamorous cocktails bars – and an unbeatable surf club – to head to for sundowners. But if you want to mingle with the locals, head to Noosa Junction and track down the Village Bicycle.
Here you’ll find Noosa’s only beer garden, where they screen outdoor movies during the summer months, and plenty of graffiti-clad atmosphere all-year-round. For a little more ambience, pull up a pew at the bar inside with keg barrel pendant lights overhead.
The cocktails are cheaper than what you’d find beachfront and you can also nosh late into the night – the kitchen is open till 11pm. Order the fish tacos!
The Bison Bar
Let’s be honest, Nambour may have once been the epicentre of the Sunshine Coast when it was straight-up farmland, but these days it’s not likely you’ll be heading there on your hols.
If you’ve never ventured the 15 minutes drive west from Maroochydore, do yourself a favour and get acquainted with its creative undercurrent and surprising drinking dens like Bison Bar. (Sidenote: The op shops are also goldmines.)
Sink into one of the cosy couches with a cocktail served in a vintage glass and prepare to be entertained by a line-up that runs from drag queen bingo to flamenco dance performances. Cocktails not your thing? Try one of Clarkey’s hot chocolates.
As much as the coast is known for it’s epic coastal views, locals would argue there’s a view to rival them tucked away in Palmwoods where you’re likely to spot pretty-as-a-pin-up hot rods in front of Rick’s Garage.
This place is renowned for its burgers and beer but head upstairs for a true local’s secret: a whisky bar serving up one of the biggest selections on the coast.
Try one of the barrel-aged specials and stay for the live tunes Thursday through Sunday.