Canberra's best hidden bars
Updated 31 Jul 2023
Find secret cocktail, wine, and whisky bars in Braddon, Kingston, and the city.
If you take pleasure in discovering the unexpected, Canberra more than delivers. The night life in Canberra is home to some of the best bars and live music venues on offer. To find these secret spots is half the fun and double the experience. Once you arrive, don’t be fooled by the quiet exterior, step foot inside and you’ll be greeted with a buzzing atmosphere with all-around good vibes.
Check out these hidden bars worth your visit – if you can find them.
Header image by Ashley St George from Pew Pew Studios
Get down low to find High Jinks
A whiskey and cocktail bar with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, High Jinks is the ultimate underground escape. Tucked away and nestled in New Acton, you can expect rambunctious fun, live music sessions, and cocktail classes to accompany you and your favourite drink. If that’s not enough, for the second year running, High Jinks has taken the gong for ACT Cocktail Bar of the Year.
Visit award-winning Bar Rochford
Bar Rochford is a well-awarded wine and cocktail bar located upstairs of the iconic and heritage-listed, Melbourne building. In this cosy bar, you can enjoy an ever-changing food menu accompanied by an impressive selection of wines. There’s good reason Bar Rochford has taken the title of ACT Bar of the Year.
Step into Alcove
Where bar and kitchen work in synchronicity, you will find Alcove. Alcove is a new, intimate venue setting the bar high (pun unintended) for the perfect cocktail and canape alchemy. Set on the busting Lonsdale Street in Braddon, this bar is the very embodiment of being hidden in plain sight.
Meet you at Molly
Any venue that gives its address in coordinates (35°16'44.5"S 149°07'42.0"E, to be precise) is sure to impress and surprise. Hidden behind mysterious wooden doors in an unassuming location, Molly offers next-level cocktails in a speakeasy atmosphere. Picture: dim, candle-lit mood lighting and 1920s themed music. Chat to one of their friendly bartenders who each have a specialised area of expertise.
Image by Ashley St George from Pew Pew Studios
Revel in the best at Hippo Co
Cocktails, whisky tastings, and live jazz, could you ask for more? Perched above Canberra’s first Chinese restaurant, lodge-style joint, Hippo Co, is one of Australia's longest operating cocktail and jazz venues. With over 280 whiskies on their back bar, the guided tastings are a great way to try a selection of the constantly evolving list.
Catch a gig at Sideway
Exciting wines, seasonal cocktails, and local beers paired with good tunes is what this bar does best. Situated upstairs of the iconic Sydney building, Sideway prides itself on its ultra-impressive calendar of live music gigs and custom-built sound system. All you need to know is the quality acoustic insulation means you can feel the force of the music whilst still being able to have a conversation.
Image by Lean Timms
Choose from over 300 whiskies at Volstead Repeal
Take a wander through Mort Street in Braddon and you'll find this warm and intimate bar down an ally of shops. Be guided through Volstead Repeal's grand selection of over 300 whiskies, or take a seat at the New York-inspired bar and have a chat with an expert bartender.
Image by Ashley St George
Explore Canberra’s newest hidden bar, 11e Cave
New to the scene and already making an impact is underground Kingston bar, 11e Cave. Tucked behind a red door and inspired by the small French cellar bars, devour in simple snacks with great wines and cocktails. Make sure to book in a table at Onzieme, the bar’s upstairs counterpart, for moreish small plates and cheerful wines.
Image by Lean Timms