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Black Market. Image: Tim Bean Photography.

Black Market: Canberra’s newest bar

Beatrice Smith

True to their style, Lorenzo Focarile, Dean Brown and Antony Arena’s newest hidden bar, Black Market, is hard to find, and even harder to leave.

The boys are the team behind Molly, Highball Express and 79 & Fine, but while their previous venues focus on the American prohibition era and the sunshine of the Hamptons, Black Market’s slick finishings and touches of sparkle are reminiscent of 1970s New York.

Tucked into the basement of A. Baker (formerly the A. Baker speakeasy), Black Market is accessible through a hidden doorway off Phillip Law Street – just look for the Black Market sign…

HC-Bar-Sign

“It’s modern but a bit classic,” says Antony of the bar’s decor. “The space is limiting, obviously, but we wanted to make everything comfortable.”

The space may be small but the atmosphere has changed completely. Green leather benches sit low against the walls with candlelit marble tables and mini chesterfield chairs. When we visit, I notice the soundtrack to Oceans 11 is playing low in the background. “The music that we’re playing is 60s and 70s funk and soul,” explains Ant. “We love doing bars for a slightly older audience so we wanted something with a relaxed vibe.”

With comfort the main goal, table service for everything will allow visitors to relax completely.

“It’s completely hosted and we’ve picked the best of the best from our other venues to come and bartend.”

Everything from the backlit liquor bottles to the glittering mirror tiles above the bar (installed by Antony himself) is highly Instagrammable.

HC-Bar-glass

With a capacity of 60 people, Black Market is dusky and intimate, perfect for a pre-dinner or movie drink and nibble, with a select small plates menu courtesy of A. Baker. In fact, the presence of Palace Electric over the road has even influenced the cocktail menu, with creative cocktails like Phat Duck Carré and Netflix & Chill.

“We saw this as a pre and post movie [destination],” explains Ant.

And what of the name?

“It’s called Black Market because it’s all the stuff you can’t get somewhere else,” says Ant. “We get access to some pretty rare, limited edition spirits through our contacts from Highball and Molly but also some innovative and new practices in cocktail making – we’re doing fat washes [where fat from bacon is infused into liquor], tinctures, fire, dry ice – all the theatrics.”

We can’t wait to see what Netflix and Chill tastes like.

HC-Bar-3

Want to win a night at Black Market for two?

You could win an evening in a chauffeur-driven BMW 125i, paired with drinks and nibbles for two. Discover how to enter here by visiting our ‘ultimate night out’ competition page.

the essentials 

What: Black Market
Where: Look for the ‘hidden’ entrance on the Nishi side of the A. Baker building. Look for the Black Market sign.
When: 5pm to midnight, Sunday to Thursday; 4pm to 1am, Friday and Saturday,
Web: www.bmbar.com.au

Photography by Tim Bean Photography

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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