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Published July 21st 2013
Something for everyone at this cool and quirky cocktail bar
It was an interesting realisation recently that Comedy Relief and I have finally made the grade. No, it wasn't a telegram from the Queen or an invitation to dine at the Lodge with Kevin in his 2013 reincarnation. This was far more profound; the ultimate accolade from our late teens, early twenties children. It wasn't said in so many words, but obviously Comedy Relief and I are regarded as cool parents. We just spent a Friday evening at a trendy Brisbane bar with our kids and their friends, and it was all their idea.
I'm not sure how it happened, these great moments in parenthood often just creep up on you. There we were organising a few quiet drinks with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law when my daughter suggested that our two groups should join together for a night out. She was, after all, the discoverer of her friends' new favourite haunt, The Walrus Club, and they had been regaling us with tales of its virtues as the perfect place to while away a Friday evening. It was a done deal within minutes.
The Walrus Club is located downstairs at Brisbane's iconic Regatta Hotel. And when I say downstairs, I mean subterranean. The only external sign of the club's existence is a walrus stamped on a wall next to a doorway and a bouncer standing vigilantly by. I have heard that bouncers here strictly police the 'snappy' dress code, so be warned. I'm not sure whether it was our classy elegance or our (comparatively) advanced age that did the trick but we were admitted without any trouble and made our way through the inconspicuous doorway and down the dimly lit stairs to the Aladdin's Cave below to join our offspring.
From the descriptions I'd heard I had been prepared for the cosy corners, the photos of golden-age movie stars, the lounge club furniture, the intimate bars, and the atmosphere of a 1920s speakeasy. What I wasn't prepared for was the club's simultaneous resemblance to a World War 2 bunker - all uneven concrete floors, exposed pipes, long brick-lined corridors and echoing spaces. I suppose I had imagined that the whole experience would be glamourous in a Great Gatsby kind of way, but this was a quirky conglomeration of Gatsby glitter and Churchill's Paddock Bunker, and I liked it immediately.
Disparate group that we were, The Walrus Club offered something for all our interests; cool cocktails and trendy vibe for the younger set, comfy chairs and subtle background music for us. We all appreciated the ability to carry on a conversation without shouting.
While you'll be tempted to ensconce yourself in one of the aforementioned comfy armchairs and wait for table service I advise you not to. By all means stake out your claim to a quiet corner, and munch on the complimentary spiced nuts and popcorn, while you sip on one of the Walrus Club's signature rum concoctions, but don't stop there. This is a place that is just begging to be explored. You won't fully appreciate the experience if you don't go searching out the secret spaces and curious crannies, and a visit to one of the two small, welcoming, brick-faced bars is essential.
One of the brick-fronted bars
On a busy night this may take a while, because the Walrus Club's bar staff are that great mixture of new age artistry and old school service that the best contemporary cocktail bars seem to serve up so effortlessly. You'll get a dollop of friendly patter and a twist of knowledgeable conversation while they create whatever delicious cocktail takes your fancy. And it pays to be guided by their expert suggestions. My daughter and I are not ordinarily rum drinkers but we surrendered to our mixologist's advice to try the spiced rum and apple juice concoction and it was delicious.
The blackboard drinks menu doesn't fully cover the delights on offer.
On the downside the toilets at The Walrus Club can be a little difficult to locate and parking in this area is horrendous on a weekend evening, so a taxi is probably your best option.
Try to call in while it's still winter. They've just released their 'Winter Warmers' cocktail list. The winter blues belter that particularly caught my interest is 'The Dr. Hendricks and Thermo-molecular Coconut Stuff', poured warm from a china teapot into cute china cups. I have absolutely no idea what's in it but we're going back to give it a try. With a name like that it's just got to be medicinal, right?