The ultimate guide to Canberra's bars 2016


Leather armchairs, dusk blue walls with crisp white panelling, dove grey sofas to sip cocktails. This smart new Civic venue is aimed at Canberra's gay, lesbian and transgender community. Heteros welcome too. 16 West Row, Civic.

Vibe: Camp but classy.

Bar Rochford

An upstairs bar with a slightly retro, laidback, lived in feel. Potted ferns, booths upholstered in pale green, vinyl records and lots of light from panelled windows overlooking London Circuit. 

Vibe: A glass of wine and chilling out.

The Highball Express

Climb the outdoor staircase to this airy, tropical Cuban-themed bar with aged rum cocktails. Grab a caipirinha and a seat on the balcony overlooking the trees of Alinga Street.

Vibe: Tropical Saturday nights.

White Rabbit

A flower filled Alice in Wonderland themed bar complete with cocktails, desserts and DJ. There's a cocktail high tea on weekends. 65 Northbourne Avenue, Civic.

Vibe: A girls' night out. 

The Aviary

A shipping container bar perched high above the lake at Westside Acton Park, filled with bright yellow and turquoise accents. Get a workout up the stairs, admire the view.

Vibe: Something a little different with great views.


Underground speakeasy in an old bank vault amid the law offices of Civic. Slide into one of the big booths and order a charcuterie platter and cocktails.

Vibe: Cosy and intimate.


Chesterfield sofas, gilt framed mirrors and cosy sofa nooks surrounded by greenery on the outdoor terrace, this bar and restaurant is beautiful and a bit luxurious. 

Vibe: Classy date night drinks.

Joe's Bar

Small bar with eclectic modern decor - fuchsia walls, gold accents and a concrete curtain - and great Italian food at East Hotel in Kingston.

Vibe: Intimate Parliamentary triangle post work drinks.


Buzzing, trendy and packed on Saturday nights for pan Asian bites, washed down with a giant mystery punch bowl for 10 if you're in a group. 

Vibe: Dinner and cocktails before hitting town.

Suke Suke

Hip new little Japanese basement bar in the Civic bus interchange where you can start the night with sake and whisky - and even order food to match from a cheerful restaurant upstairs. 

Vibe: Small groups and dates.

The Hutch

Canberra's tiniest bar is a shipping container at The Hamlet in Braddon where you can grab a beer or three inside (there's a bar stool) or from the window. 

Vibe: Squishy. (But you can take the beers to your table at the Hamlet.)

La De Da

This upstairs bar on Lake Ginninderra brings grunge and graffiti cool to the northern suburbs, with serious views over the water for weekend afternoon gatherings.

Vibe: Arty and vibrant. 


Tucked away at the back of Italian and Sons is this slick little marble clad bar with low seats and a fireplace - a bit of an oasis from the bustle of Braddon.

Vibe: A classy spot for pre dinner drinks and a snack

Polit Bar

A small bar upstairs in Manuka where low booths are sectioned off by curtains of metal chains and dangling pendants lights cast a soft glow. Look out for burlesque, trivia and "naked girls reading".

Vibe: Intimate post work drinks.


Enter through the QT Hotel barbershop to a spacious speakeasy where a glowing central bar is surrounded by bar tables and long couches. There are big banquettes screened by drapes which can be reserved for private parties. 

Vibe: Good for groups.


A whisky bar above the crowds in Garema Place with plenty of flavour in the cocktail list and mood lighting. Take a seat on the glass fronted balcony to watch the nightlife passing below.

Vibe: A chill Saturday night 

Honky Tonks

Upbeat Garema Place watering hole where drinkers spill out into a big alfresco seating area in summer. Throw in a basket of tacos and you're set for a night out.

Vibe: Big groups and mingling.


A fun little bar with an outdoor area filled with tiny colourful furniture, while inside converts to a dancefloor early in the night. 

Vibe: RnB and hip hop. 


The original Saturday night playground for Canberra's young and dancy. Cocktails here are a chance to sit down and refresh yourself in between bouts of carving up the dancefloor.

Vibe: Nightclub.


A narrow but chic bar with a striking tree filled with fairy lights, an upstairs loft and a small dancefloor where DJs turn up the noise on weekends. 

Vibe: A more grownup Saturday night with a chance of dancing.

Mint Bar

An alfresco courtyard bar outside Sage Dining in Gorman House where the trees are twined with fairy lights - grab a pizza and a glass of wine and perch at a high bar table. 

Vibe: Casual post work or pre art show drinks.


Who knew a hotel foyer could be so cool? Settle into a couch in front of the fireplace or grab a window seat for a postprandial sip or a catchup.

Vibe: Relaxed but high end.


A place for wine connoisseurs - this bar tucked away on a corner on Northbourne Avenue is calm and relaxed with white linen tables and a great list. 

Vibe: Take a serious wine lover for quiet drinks.

Helix Bar

The hotel at Canberra's airport features a serene, modern bar with curving sofas around open fireplaces and high tables in a central atrium. 

Vibe: For nervous flyers or if you want to give someone a champagne sendoff.