What's new in Cairns' food and beverage scene

We love new things, especially when they relate to food and drinks, and even more so when it relates to a Friday ...

The Tropic team has rounded together a list of what's new, what's underway and what's to come in all things eating, drinking and entertaining. 

With new bars, restaurants, cafes, and even a couple of new distilleries popping up, it's a great time to be in Cairns.


Narrow Tracks Distilling

Cairns locals Bec Zammit and Doug Thorpe are proving that a "pipe dream" can come true. 

The former travel agent and aircraft engineer decided to delve into the world of spirits after the pandemic hit, and as a result, we get to enjoy a new distillery opening in industrial Stratford. 

"We create all of our spirits from scratch using Queensland sugarcane and molasses and we try our best to source many of our ingredients from local farms," Doug told Tropic Now.

"Our first product release will be a juniper-forward, contemporary dry gin. We also have a few fun liqueurs that are under wraps at the moment, and some rum that we hope to release after the required two-year ageing process. 

"We'll have a small tasting bar area where guests can try our products and check out our distillery equipment – where the magic happens. Our production room will also be open for sales on weekdays."

Narrow Tracks Distilling's debut gin will be ready to purchase by July, with the tasting bar opening soon after. 

GO THERE: 3/13 Industrial Avenue, Stratford

The House of Commons 

A late-night Esplanade drinking destination, showcasing locally-made spirits and brews? Don't mind if we do.

The House of Commons is a collective project between Mt Uncle Distillery, Coral Sea Brewing Co. and some movers and shakers in the local beverage scene. 

Opening above the Bavarian Beerhouse, Venue Manager James Tsang told Tropic Now the bar will be "a place where people can come and forget about the world's problems."

"It's going to be a classic cocktail bar with a speakeasy vibe that's warm and comfortable, like a living room or lounge," he said. 


Since 2001, Mt. Uncle Distillery had grown to produce a bold range of gin, rum, whisky and vodka in the Tablelands, but this will be the distillery's first establishment outside its tasting room in Walkamin. 

Coral Sea Brewing Co is loved by locals for its hole-in-the-wall bar down Bank Lane and four distinct beers, while Tsang comes with experience managing bars in Melbourne.

The House of Commons is due to be open by the end of June. 4pm to midnight, Thursday to Sunday. 

GO THERE: 1/77 Esplanade, Cairns City

Goose Specialty Coffee

This new espresso bar is taking shape, and it's in the expert hands of James Duan and Tracey Finney of Envy Espresso. 

Goose Specialty Coffee – just a bean's throw from the CBD in the former Flying Monkey Cafe site – will be open early every morning like Envy, but will have a stronger focus on alternative brews and filter coffee. 

James told Tropic Now that he and wife Tracey are still going through the fit-out and concept formulation, but the space will have a "modern chic, artistic" feel. 

"It will be a funky hangout for locals, and somewhere we can run barista courses and coffee education, or just have a good conversation with customers about coffee," he said.

"There'll be a full kitchen, locally roasted espresso and a rotating list of beans on our filter menu."

James and Tracey plan to open Goose Specialty Coffee on 21 June. 

GO THERE: 154 Sheridan St, Cairns City

Distil on the Hill

Kuranda is home to all kinds of pocketed treasures, but there's nothing quite like Distil on the Hill. 

Nerida 'Neddy' and Christian Bedwell are about to release their first boutique gin, informed by a strong family background of distilling.

"I have a background in working with Kangaroo Island Spirits for a few years and my husband has had 20 years' experience being a chef, working in hatted restaurants such as Tetsuya in Sydney," Neddy told Tropic Now.

"We are very grateful to have the support and wealth of distilling knowledge from Jon and Sarah Lark (Kangaroo Island Spirits), Lindon Lark and Georda Ellis (Blend Etiquette) and Bill and Lynn Lark (Lark) who 25 years ago started the first small batch craft distillery in Australia and played a big part in changing the laws to do so.

"Our gin is juniper bold, sweet mandarin and aromatic pepper. We use organic Macedonian juniper, a range of carefully selected botanicals and distil through a copper pot still.

"We have a really small 20 litre still that we're running around the clock and all that we do is done by hand, like peeling and squeezing every mandarin.

"We are getting a 100 litre still soon though and the dream is to move into rum in the future." 

Distil on the Hill launch their first product at Laneway Cairns on 23 July, with online sales also in the works.  

LEARN MORE: distilonthehill.com

Il Chiosco

Pizza, wine, and beachside dining. The Tropic team's there.

Il Chiosco is Trinity Beach's latest Italian offering, located in the building that formerly housed Fratelli's.

Since opening in late March it's quickly become a local favourite, especially after the restaurant expanded to include a pizzeria in the last few weeks. 

Il Chiosco's been endorsed by some of our favourite Italian foodies, Angelo's Deli in Portsmith, so we know it must be good.

Besides, any place that decides to do olive tapenade pizza bases is a place worth visiting.

GO THERE: 47 Vasey Esplanade, Trinity Beach

Teddy Espresso

One of our favourite bean brewers, White Whale Coffee Roasters, have recently opened another outlet in the opposite end of town – an espresso bar in Edge Hill. 

Teddy is all things nice, from its cosy interior and friendly faces behind the machine, to its sweet (and exclusive) treats.

Every Friday the team receive a special Duke's Doughnuts delivery, which we've heard can easily sell out within a hour.

Other perks include housemade almond milk, drinking choclate and chai, as well as O Petits Biscuits' croissants and friands. 

The Teddy team's serving hugs in mugs, Monday to Saturday. The venue is also completely cashless. 

GO THERE: 120 Collins Ave, Edge Hill

Whiskey & Wine by Crystalbrook

Whiskey or wine tonight? Why not both?

Crystalbrook Flynn's third on-premises venue boasts an impressive pedigree of over 80 local and imported whiskeys, and we're told it will serve a brimful of glamour to match. 

Set elegantly on the hotel's rooftop, visitors to Whiskey and Wine can let the single-malt sink in as they soak up the chic atmosphere and spectacular views across the Coral Sea. 

“Just steps from the iconic Esplanade boardwalk, Whiskey and Wine will be the trendsetter for nightlife in Cairns, a bubbly and sophisticated space for visitors to unwind from the tropical heat," says Crystalbrook Collection Area General Manager, Joel Gordon.

It opened 4 June, with 4pm-late hours from Thursday to Saturday. 

GO THERE: Level 2/85 Esplanade, Cairns City

The Benson Bar & Restaurant

The former Rydges Plaza Hotel at the corner of Spence and Grafton streets was rebranded to Reef Plaza in February last year before shutting its doors in July. 

Businessman Adam Adams bought the 101-room hotel in January. It's set to reopen on July 1 after major renovations.

General Manager Daniel Allia told Tropic Now the look and feel of the rooftop venue will be entirely different to the former hotel's Lilo bar, though the pool will remain a drawcard.  

"The Benson Bar and Restaurant will be able to host approximately 300 people ... [and] the terrace has been thoughtfully redesigned to provide more space for our guests," he said. 

"Bringing together a modern chic feel with fun little luxe details, guests can expect to feel a little classy when enjoying this new redesign.

"We are set to raise the bar on a festive night out, or a lazy Sunday session."

GO THERE: 50 Grafton Street, Cairns City

Pachamama by Crystalbrook

Hola, Pachamama is back. 

You can find the Latin-inspired bar, restaurant and pool on the third level of Bailey, Crystalbrook's hotel on Abbott Street.

Think cocktails influenced by the Caribbean, passionate flavours and cityscape views. Dreamy afternoons that turn into heady nights. 

The drinks are paired with empanadas, paella and Peruvian ceviche. 

Pachamama re-opened just this week, with Thursday to Sunday hours. 

GO THERE: Level 3/163 Abbott St, Cairns City

Tropical Gin Seltzer

While it's only a new product rather than an establishment, Wolf Lane Distillery's new Tropical Gin Seltzer is certainly worth mentioning.

Just released a few weeks ago, and it's already won a Gold Medal at the World Seltzer Awards in London! 

Infused with natural mango flavouring and sparkling water, the seltzer is the perfect accompaniment to any lazy afternoon in our topical paradise.

Wolf Lane's sister bar The Fox in Stratford, just opened in January, is absolutely deserving of your time too.  

GO THERE: 28-30 Abbott St, Cairns City

More things happening:

Dunwoody's Tavern will soon undergo a $2 million upgrade. Owner Australian Venue Co has also recently renovated its Palm Cove Tavern, and is "considering opportunities to refresh and restore" its other venues Barron River Hotel and Mt Sheridan Tavern.

Cairns Regional Council has recently approved a development application to convert the former TAB outlet at 23-25 Shield Street into a bar. The company has registered business name Dirty Laundry the Party Pit, and if progressed, will have the capacity for about 120 patrons.

Elixir Music Bar will expand to two levels in the coming months. The local favourite is currently the only venue in Cairns supporting live – and largely local and original – music and entertainment five nights a week post-COVID. The monthly Busty Bingo with drag queen Monica Fusion is one of Tropic Now's favourites. 


Any other new cafes, bars or restaurants that we may not know about? Let us know here

We're wanting it to be something quite reserved and intimate, with a capacity for roughly 25 to 35 people.
James Tsang
The House of Commons