Good golly, don't miss Molly!

Jil Hogan

 Photo: Melissa Adams

If poking around and finding intriguing, unmarked doors to open is your kind of thing, you could be in for a pleasant surprise in the city.

With only a mysterious set of co-ordinates outlining its location (somewhere in Civic) and a single, red velvet rope out the front - you could be forgiven for missing Canberra's newest bar Molly.

The bar opened in late February and owners Antony Arena, Lorenzo Focarile and Dean Brown have created a speakeasy steeped in nostalgia.

A new bar in the city, Molly.
A new bar in the city, Molly. Photo: Melissa Adams

Once you actually find the door, walk down the bare staircase into the basement and swing open the heavy second door - you're met with a bar straight out of the 1920s.

''We really wanted everything to be as authentic as possible,'' Arena says. ''You won't even see any technology in Molly. All the point of sale is hidden - we tried to hide as much as possible to add to Molly's authenticity.''

Already a big fan of the emerging range of speakeasies in Sydney, the trio was keen to open one in Canberra and it all hinged on finding the right location. Focarile searched the city on foot looking for quirky basements and eventually found one that fitted the bill.

The owners say authenticity was important with the fitout.
The owners say authenticity was important with the fitout. Photo: Melissa Adams

''The second we walked down in there, I kind of had some sort of vision - I could see exactly how the place was going to work. So we jumped on it right away,'' Arena says.

With no advertising, promotions or even a sign on the door, the owners are letting the venue itself do the talking.

The giant bar offers up an extensive wall of spirits, with Arena describing the bar menu as an ''ongoing beast''.

''There's a leniency towards whisky and high-quality everything. We've also got really nice vodka and gins,'' he says.

The drinks menu focuses on classic cocktails centred around whisky and rum-based creations. The bartenders are also happy to freestyle and make whatever patrons fancy.

The piece de resistance is the delicatessen. Hidden away in the corner, the charcuterie station offers platters of freshly sliced cured meats, teamed with local in-season fruits and nuts. The simple menu includes Italian, French and Dutch plates.


 Photo: Melissa Adams

''In a previous life, Lorenzo ran a fruit shop and deli, so he has got great contacts,'' Arena says. ''We're not led by the food - it's purely complementary to having a nice drink. We want to keep it simple but high quality.''

Fittingly, the bar's namesake, Molly Pitcher, is believed to have been an aggressive fighter during the American Revolution. When prohibition started in New York, one of the most common speakeasies was the Molly Pitcher Club. Folklore says that women from the time who were anti-prohibition would all sign their names as Molly Pitcher.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Molly is the hidden bank vault - filled with 65 copper cabinets, each of which is for sale. Once you're the owner of one of the cabinets and have one of the brass keys in your hand, you can buy or order-in high-end spirits and wine, and they will be stored for you in the vault and brought out whenever you return.

Molly, a new bar in the city.
Molly, a new bar in the city. Photo: Melissa Adams

There are a few other nooks and crannies in Molly, but you'll have to go exploring yourself to find out what's behind the doors.

So have a drink at Molly - after you have found her that is.

>>Find Molly at

The entrance to the new bar, Molly.
The entrance to the new bar, Molly. Photo: Melissa Adams

>> Like us at for a peek inside the bar.