Canberra’s nightlife is in the throes of an intoxicating revival, with a wave of new drinking dens and upscale hangouts open for business. Whether you’re after an intimate lounge, a bustling hot spot or a garden terrace in the summer, Canberra has it covered.
The Loft at Duxton
Recently renovated, The Loft at Duxton draws a young local crowd. Rustic, earthy interiors, a sizeable cocktail list and views of Black Mountain create an enticing space to spend an evening. Hungry? Order share plates of pea, pecorino and harissa arancini or the snapper carpaccio.
Corner of Sargood and Macpherson Streets, O’Connor; (02) 6162 0799
Housed in the Melbourne Building, Bar Rochford is light-filled and relaxed with retro inspired interiors. Solo diners will appreciate small dishes such as the salt cod with parsley, lemon, polenta and Parmigianino, paired with a great selection of wines by the glass. The intimate space with cosy booths and tables for two works well for small parties and couples.
First Floor, 65 London Circuit, Canberra; (02) 6230 6222
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Communal tables, booths and plenty of floor space make Hopscotch an attractive option for heading out with a group of friends. With overhead beams, exposed bricks and a polished concrete floor, the space is industrial yet welcoming. If the weather’s good, sit outside under one of the many umbrellas.
5 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6107 3030
This sophisticated venue’s exclusive vibe is complemented by its eclectic interior style and stellar cocktail list. On a warm evening order the thirst-quenching Eastside Elderflower gin cocktail with refreshing hints of cucumber, mint and lime. If – in true Canberra fashion – it’s a little chilly, opt for the Passionate Toddy of Japanese whisky fused with English breakfast and passionfruit, served in a teapot.
16 Kendall Lane, New Acton; (02) 6257 7325
Open from Wednesday to Saturday, Lucky’s Speakeasy at QT attracts locals as well as hotel guests. Everyone is catered for with an expansive drinks list including national and international wines, beers, cocktails and even punch.
1 London Circuit, Canberra; (02) 6267 1270
Equally intimate as it is vibrant, Knightsbridge Penthouse has long been a fixture in Canberra’s bar scene. Visit on a Saturday evening for a night filled with dancing and classic cocktails.
1/34 Mort Street, Braddon; (02) 6262 6221
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Tucked at the back of Canberra institution Italian and Sons, Bacaro is a sleek 50-seater bar that oozes style thanks to its dark walls, marble bar and low-slung chairs. Grab a drink here as you wait for your table to become available at the restaurant or drop in for a swift drink after work.
7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6162 4888
A lively bar in the city centre, Shorty’s fun and friendly vibe attracts a regular crowd on any given Friday and Saturday. What to order? Try the moreish Wildberry Daiquiri with pamparo white rum, Chambord, cranberry juice, blueberries and raspberries.
29 Garema Place, Canberra; (02) 6230 7692
The Highball Express
The staff at this cool Cuban-inspired bar are experts at creating some of the best rum cocktails in the nation’s capital. Grab your friends and head here over the weekend – day or night – for a cultural dose of Cuban music and food.
Level 1, 82 Alinga Street, Canberra
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High ceilings, plenty of seating inside and out and a relaxed ambience make Public a popular spot in Canberra’s inner-south. Monday to Friday, expect to find public servants dropping in for a beverage after work. Over the weekend it’s filled with regulars who appreciate the wine list, which features plenty of local drops and the classic pub food offerings.
Manuka Arcade, Flinders Way, 18-20 Franklin Street, Griffith; (02) 6161 8808
Dishing up delectable Mexican food such as tacos, chimichangas and fajitas, Honkytonks attracts a younger crowd. For a regular margarita or an inventive variation on the classic (a Lagerita, anyone?), you should head here if you love tequila.
17 Garema Place, Canberra; (02) 6262 6968
Mint Garden Bar
Located in the courtyard of the Gorman House Arts Centre, Mint Garden Bar is an elegant spot to enjoy a glass of local wine. Open only during the warmer months, the outdoor bar is a relaxing venue for winding down on a balmy evening.
Gorman House Arts Centre, Batman Street, Braddon; (02) 6249 6050