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Drink Me: First look at White Rabbit

Beatrice Smith

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

It’s no use looking for Kremlin Bar, either. The dusky Northbourne Avenue cocktail bar closed its doors for good three weeks ago and will emerge as White Rabbit Cocktail Room, an Alice in Wonderland themed floral paradise, when it opens this Thursday after what has to be one of the fastest refits in the history of Canberra hospitality.

“We’ve literally built a brand new venue. Most people, when they hear ‘refurb’, they think you’ll change the couch and paint the wall but this is all brand new,” says White Rabbit co-owner Nick Tuckwell.


The new fit out is primarily in a palette of deep aqua and dark wood; understatedly feminine. Flowers decorate almost all surfaces, creating intimate screens and playful decoration throughout the interior.

Along the right hand wall are wood and glass ‘lockers’ which regular patrons can purchase, ensuring they are waited on hand and foot with bottle service at every visit and have somewhere to keep their ‘drink me’ libations.


The fit out is strikingly different from Kremlin. Not only has White Rabbit been built from the ground up, but their Facebook page has already amassed over 1600 ‘likes’ in under two weeks, glittering with images of pastel cocktails and an indulgent selection of desserts.

Nick puts this success down to his team’s organisation, especially their PR guru, Claudia Vannithone from Agency 9.

A Tweedle-Rum. Image courtesy of

A Tweedle-Rum. Image courtesy of

Velour couches frame all areas of the interior, with a lower area complete with an antique sideboard as a DJ table. An arbor draped in flowers will frame the doorway to the bathrooms, with an Alice in Wonderland window decal and plush curtains creating a hidden atmosphere.

“High Tea is something we’ll probably move into once we get the bar side of things sorted,” says Nick. “Your options for High Tea [in Canberra] at the moment are the Hyatt or the Burbury and that doesn’t necessarily cater for the cocktail side of things. It’s an older demographic, too. I wanted something that was going to appeal to the younger, predominantly female market.”

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“Everything we see in small bars now is very whiskey based,” says Nick. “But our products were designed to reflect the decor of the venue. It’s very floral, it looks like we’ve moved Floriade inside, it’s very feminine.”

“I wanted [to create] something different. I hadn’t seen a bar based on the Alice in Wonderland theme yet. Kremlin was a very original idea and so is this.”

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On board to help create the perfect mad tea party vision is accomplished pastry chef Adrian Peak who has previously worked at WatersEdge and Pulp Kitchen.

“[Adrian] is a really talented guy. Basically our whole food side of things is dessert based. We have a few savoury dishes to snack on before dinner but we’ve got six really top end desserts which add to our theme.”

A Sundae. Image courtesy of

A Sundae. Image courtesy of

“The advantage of having a pastry chef also is that he can help us with the presentation of the drinks,” Nick explains. “Every drink has something [served] with it. There’s a lot of theatre to it. It [can have] a cucumber sandwich with it, marshmallows, freeze dried strawberries, flowers…they’re very visual.”

“[Especially] catering for people who have been out to dinner and might want to come by for dessert and a cocktail.”

The visual centrepiece of the bar will be a huge LED flatscreen attached to the roof, showing a live feed of clouds and sunsets, to make the viewer feel as if they are indeed, down the rabbit hole. The cherry on top of the theatre of this unique bar, we are curiouser and curiouser to attend the opening night and see White Rabbit in all it’s topsy turvy glory.

the essentials
What: White Rabbit Cocktail Room
Where: 65 Northbourne Avenue, Civic
When: White Rabbit Cocktail Room opens this Thursday at 6pm


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor 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 or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author

  • Aly

    It is a beautiful place with brilliant cocktails and the best part is the music!! My favorite place from now on!! Well done!!

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