HALE W18 Masthead

Hidden Canberra bars worth searching for

Amanda Whitley

We scratch the surface to reveal five hidden Canberra bars worth searching for.

Did you know that in some parts of Canberra you have more chance of living next door to a spy than in any other city on earth? 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

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 whiskys 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


Even locals can’t find this bar — and that’s just how the owners like it. It’s a modern take on a Prohibition era speakeasy and it’s so cool it hurts.

Guided to the unmarked door only by map coordinates, Molly embraces the ‘hidden drinking den’ theme with moody lighting and secret rooms. A cheese and charcuterie station means you can settle in for the night, and during winter Molly serves up roasted chestnuts and heated cognac.

With live jazz during the week, cocktail lessons and whiskey tastings, this is one place worth whipping out the GPS for.

Molly | -35° 16′ 46.45″ S – 149° 7′ 35.23″ E | Monday to Saturday, 4pm – 2am | molly.net.au

Bar Rochford

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.

With a cracking wine list, and a menu boasting European and Modern Australian flavours, this is a destination for those barhops who are as serious about their food as they are their drinks.

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 | www.barrochford.com

Black Market

Tucked into the basement of acclaimed eatery A. Baker is Canberra’s newest bar, 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

Lucky’s Speakeasy

From the outside it looks like a barber shop, but make your way past the antique leather chairs and you’ll find 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 – late |www.qtcanberra.com.au

Feature image by Tim Bean Photography. This article was first published on Visit Canberra – stay up to date with all the latest Canberra events by subscribing to their enewsletter.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

  • Renée

    Thanks for the great tips. Would be interested to know if any of these gems are wheelchair accessible?