Bookplate owner Tracy Keeley, at Picnic
Bookplate owner Tracy Keeley, at Picnic Photo: Rohan Thomson

Summer Friday nights in the Parliamentary Triangle just got more colourful with the launch of a pop-up bar on the terrace overlooking Lake Burley Griffin at the National Library of Australia.

The pop-up bar is called Picnic and launches on Friday night, January 22 with post-work drinks, music, and a "live kitchen" serving up Asian-inspired small bites and dishes.

And for the launch party, drinks are half price.

Sip cocktails while lounging on pink string chairs under shady umbrellas.
Sip cocktails while lounging on pink string chairs under shady umbrellas. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The glass-fronted terrace outside Bookplate Cafe has been transformed with plenty of plants, touches of green and white, a spread of faux grass, shady umbrellas and bright pink string chairs.

Tracy Keeley, who owns Bookplate Cafe, has organised the new bar, which will be open every Friday night for the next two months until March 18.

"We're having a live cooking station that will be predominantly selling Asian style food and some of that is yum cha baskets, steamer baskets with little things in it. Also the classic fried rice with egg noodles and chicken or pork and some nice easy meals," she says.

"The beauty of here is that there's no issue with parking from 5pm. There's only a few places in Canberra that have the vista that we have."

It seems like a no-brainer to make better use of the big terrace with its view over the lake and the lawns of the National Library.

"I just think that this is such a magical spot and it's got such an amazing view," she says. "To be sitting here watching the sunset with some lovely soft music playing after a week's work with a gin and tonic with some steamed buns."

The Asian themed bar food is tied in to Celestial Empire - the National Library of Australia's new exhibition of Chinese maps, books and prints.

With the opening of Picnic, staffers in the Parliamentary Triangle have an increasingly impressive array of post-work options on Friday nights.

There are also the courtyard drinks at Old Parliament House, late Friday night openings at the National Portrait Gallery, and a series of summer events at the Sculpture Garden restaurant at the National Gallery.

"It's going to add something to the triangle definitely for the workers on the area," she says.

Keeley took over Bookplate in late 2014 after previous owner Rachel Romney-Brown retired after 14 years.

She says it has been a great year.

"I'm loving it, absolutely loving it. I love the customers and the fact that we've maintained the core customer base and also introduced Bookplate to a new demographic," she says.