Secrets are a part of Canberra's culture, so it’s only fitting that a new generation of bars is embracing the hidden. We scratch the surface to reveal five bars worth checking out.
Suke Suke may be subterranean, but the experience is anything but cold. A lively Izakaya (or Japanese gastropub), it serves up Asahi on tap and a range of Japanese whiskies and sake, as well as Canberra district wines and more than 60 gins.
A partnership with cult Japanese eatery Tasuke (just upstairs) gives punters the best of both worlds, delivering platters of yakitori, edamame, popcorn chicken and gyoza direct to the bar.
To find Suke Suke, look for the light box in Verity Lane (in the middle of the Sydney Building) - you’ve hit paydirt when you discover the giant neon sumo at the base of the stairs.
Suke Suke | Verity Lane, Sydney Building, Canberra City | Wednesday to Saturday, 4pm to 12am | www.sukesuke.com.au
Hidden in the basement of a building in Hobart Place in Civic, 88mph is Canberra's first dedicated '80s bar. Here you'll be transported back in time travelling at 88 miles per hour like the DeLorean time machine did in Back to the Future, to the age of fluoro, Whitney, John Mellencamp, Blue Lagoons and Cosmopolitans.
True to the 80s, 88mph has karaoke rooms, arcade games, a light-up dance floor, constant '80s tunes, themed food and cocktails and plenty of neon lights.
88mph | 8-10 Hobart Place, Canberra City | Monday - Wednesday 12pm - 12am, Thursday & Friday 12pm - 4am, Sunday 4pm - 10pm | www.88mph.bar
In the nearby Melbourne Building is Bar Rochford, a bar-cum-restaurant that’s sophisticated with a touch of grunge, and equally fitting for a quick after-work drink or lengthy session. Voted Australia's Best Bar in the 2018 Gourmet Traveller awards, this jewel of a bar boasts a cracking wine list, and a menu boasting European and Modern Australian flavours.
As has become the norm for Canberra’s coolest bars, don’t expect obvious signage - Bar Rochford’s entrance is deliberately low-key, an unassuming door in the Melbourne Building, just next to Lemon Grass Thai.
Bar Rochford | First floor, 65 London Circuit (Melbourne Building), Canberra City | Tuesday to Thursday, 5pm to late; Friday, 12pm to 2am; Saturday, 5pm to 2am | www.barrochford.com
Tucked into the basement of acclaimed eatery A.Baker is one of Canberra’s newest bars, Black Market. Green leather benches sit low against the walls with candlelit marble tables and mini chesterfield chairs. Funk and soul from the 1960s and 70s creates a relaxed vibe.
Dusky and intimate, it’s a bar for grown-ups, and its proximity to Palace Electric Cinemas make it the perfect spot for a pre- or post- movie tipple, with a select small plates menu courtesy of A.Baker.
Black Market’s name comes from the bar’s focus on rare, limited edition spirits and innovative practices in cocktail making. One to track down if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.
Black Market | 15 Edinburgh Street, NewActon | Open seven days, 5pm to late | www.bmbar.com.au
From the outside it looks like a barber shop, but make your way past the antique leather chairs and you’ll find Lucky's Speakeasy, one of Canberra’s most spirited bars (excuse the pun!).
The Prohibition theme looms large in Lucky’s, played upon with posters from the era displayed on rotation on the screens around the room, and staff who could have stepped out of the 1920s.
It’s a sprawling space, yet somehow sophisticated and intimate, with booths providing privacy. With a well crafted list of classic and newer cocktails, regular entertainment, and a varied snacks menu, you’re sure to ‘get lucky’.
Lucky’s Speakeasy | 1 London Circuit, Canberra (inside the QT Hotel) | Wednesday to Saturday, 5pm to late | www.qtcanberra.com.au
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