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First Look: 88mph

Beatrice Smith

Canberra’s bar scene is about to be shaken up, retro style. 

From the crew behind legendary themed bars Molly, Black Market and The Highball Express comes 88mph, Canberra’s newest bar.

When co-owner Antony Arena asks me if I can figure out where the name comes from, I’m stumped. But for lovers of 80s nostalgia (or those you, you know, came of age in the 80s) it’s probably obvious.

bttf gif

Yes, 88 miles per hour is the speed the Delorean had to reach in Back To The Future to achieve time travel. Luckily once 88mph opens, all you’ll have to do is make your way to Hobart Place in the city to experience your own time travel.

Located across the courtyard from the team’s flagship bar Molly, 88mph is another subterranean joint, which will add to the totally immersive experience Antony and his team have planned.

“We’d hear all the time—especially from women 25+—that they want to go out with a group of friends in a safe environment, somewhere to dance and have fun,” explains Ant.

“Molly, for us, is the bar that you can chill out in—have a conversation and a really well-made cocktail. Highball is more fun but it’s not really a dancing place. So 88 will [hopefully] be ‘Canberra’s most fun night out’. It’s bright and vibrant, it’s pizza, karaoke and dancing—it should be really, really fun.”

blue-lagoon

For Ant and his business partners, the purpose of their bars is the holistic experience that can provide to Canberrans.

“We try and create authentic experiences that transport people,” he says. “Molly you walk in and you feel like you’re in another time. Highball you feel like you’re another country—Black Market’s the same and we want 88mph to [follow], where you walk in and go ‘wow, I wasn’t expecting this’.”

Down an unassuming set of stairs, 88mph is a long, wide space with a banquette down one side and a bar down the other. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

Across the walls, vertical neon bars will arch to the ceiling where they’ll meet in the middle, mirrored by horizontal bars on the bar front across glossy black tiles. This is a place that takes its 80s vibe seriously and yes, there will be pinball machines.

At the front end of the bar will be a pizza kitchen, serving up piping hot slices to go with the cocktails (Malibu Ken or Sexual Chocolate, anyone?) and beers on tap further down the bar.

Having seen the branding and names for the cocktails, I can safely say that they’ll prompt a giggle or two, but Ant explains that there will also be a lot of classics like Cosmopolitans and Long Island Iced Teas.

“They’re all on tap,” explains Ant. “Which will make for really quick service. We’ll also do beers because it’s that kind of place – pizza and a beer.”

Further down the bar, the entire back area has been cleared for an epic light up LED dancefloor, the likes of which will spawn dance-offs beyond your wildest rainbow imaginations.

But wait, there’s more. Behind the dancefloor, 88mph continues into three small, medium and large karaoke rooms where only 80s karaoke will be programmed (sorry One Direction) and which Ant says will be perfect for birthdays and Christmas parties.

“You can’t sing anything else!” laughs Ant.

the essentials 

What: 88mph
Where: Hobart Place, City West
When: Opening soon
More information: facebook.com/88mphbar

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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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