The best cocktail bars in Canberra

69
Le Soumi

Le Soumi from Beirut Bunker Bar, one of Canberra’s most recommended cocktail bars. Photo: Zachary Griffiths.

Inventive, exciting, and absolutely delicious, there is nothing quite like indulging in an expertly crafted cocktail. From tried and true classics like a martini or an old fashioned to wild specialty creations unique to the bar you’re at, it’s always fun to treat yourself to a cocktail or two on the weekend.

Canberra is lucky enough to be home to a vibrant, creative and diverse bar scene, with multiple venues all boasting their own cocktail menus and intriguing settings. But in a city where you are so spoiled for choice, how can you decide where to go first?

In this article, we’ll talk to you about what makes a great cocktail bar, as well as a handy guide to some of the best cocktail bars Canberra has to offer to help you plan for your next night out.

What makes a great cocktail bar?

Not entirely sure what you want out of your experience at a cocktail bar? No worries. Here’s our advice: keep an eye out for the following must-have traits.

  • Perfectly executed classics. Classic cocktails are classic for a reason – they are tasty, versatile, and always hit the spot. The best cocktail bars in the region execute the classics to absolute perfection.
  • Inventive signatures. Who doesn’t love trying a new, innovative cocktail for the first time? The best cocktail bars in Canberra serve up some truly colourful concoctions.
  • Great service. Excellent customer service is always a bonus, especially when you’re out for a good time. A rude bartender or waiter can put a serious dampener on the evening.
  • Lively atmosphere. All the best cocktail bars boast lively, vibrant atmospheres. You should step inside and immediately feel relaxed, excited, and in a good mood.
  • Well-priced.Cocktails can get pricey, but if they are delicious, it’s worth every dollar. Look for a bar that prices its cocktails reasonably, so you know you aren’t getting ripped off.

The best cocktail bars in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

It’s now time to reveal the top cocktail bars in Canberra, according to the locals.

Beirut Bunker Bar

Beirut Bunker Bar, is a unique hole-in-the-wall, Parisian meets Middle Eastern aesthetic with a delightful menu of cocktails crafted by talented bartenders. Co-owner Soumi learned his tricks of the trade from working in the nightclub scene of Beirut, Lebanon – where the nightlife flourished in literal bunkers. Whether you’re out for after-work drinks, post dinner cocktails, a grazing platter or late-night drinks, Beirut has something for everyone. Edgy street-art décor and live DJs make Beirut a bar you don’t want to miss.

As Amanda Peake wrote on Google, EXTRAORDINARY COCKTAILS and a smashing fit out! Be prepared for bar theatrics like you’ve never encountered before but will want to again.”

Tipsy Bull

Love a good gin and tonic? Head to Tipsy Bull. Boasting gin as “their thing”, this bar is home to over 230 varieties available to sample, with new labels hitting the shelves every week. Offering good times, a relaxed atmosphere and a friendly experience, Tipsy Bull is a great destination for a cocktail experience.

As Facebook user Naomi Smith writes in their review, “Excellent service, amazing range of gin inspired cocktails. Intimate dining.”

Hippo Co.

If you’re a whiskey enthusiast and a lover of live music, Hippo Co. should be number one on your list of bars in Canberra. Lit by candlelight, the interior is reminiscent of an art-deco European ski lodge with extra seating on a balcony outside for the warmer nights, all creating a wonderful and intimate atmosphere. Located in the heart of the CBD, the friendly team of bartenders at Hippo Co. are here to advise you on whiskeys to suit your taste and are constantly developing their menu of delicious original cocktails.

As Google reviewer and ‘Local Guide’ Emma A describes Hippo Co., I love everything about this place. The intimate vibe, incredible and vast range of drinks and the relaxed tunes as you look out over the square.”

Caribou Kingston

If you’re after upbeat vibes, large spaces, pool tables and sports on screens, Caribou Kingston is the place for you. It has a fantastic cocktail menu and an enthusiastic team of bartenders and mixologists who are as excited about your next cocktail as you are. Whether you’re up for a traditional Canadian Caesar (of which they have numerous variations) or a cocktail of your own choosing, Caribou promises to deliver.

As Facebook user Nikara Harrington wrote, Awesome food, great beer and wine selection and very fun/friendly service. Great spot to sit outside on a sunny day, would definitely recommend this place.”

Queenies

Queenies, located in Kingston, has a refreshing style and verve. Feast your eyes on the striking Art Deco floor-to-ceiling sized back bar complete with brass and mirrors, and producing delicious on-theme cocktails to suit all tastes. The large light bulbs hanging over the bar, eclectic mix of velvet lounges and blue barstools, and repurposed train carriages serving as booths all work together to create a wonderfully vibrant cocktail bar.

Jacqueline Kelly wrote on Google, “It was such a captivating experience, with the stunning 1920’s decor, the on-theme cocktails and great music this is different to any other venue in Canberra. (…) They created a customer experience rather than just dining. Thank you, Queenies, Will definitely return!”

Molly

Molly has become quite the icon of the Canberra bar scene, and it’s not hard to see why. Only found through coordinates, Molly has nailed the speakeasy aesthetic and is a favourite amongst locals. The unassuming wooden door in an alleyway hides a bustling bar with live jazz performances and a second cocktail lounge. It boasts an enormous display of whiskeys and spirits, and a talented team of effortlessly cool cocktail bartenders.

As Amanda Hope wrote on Google, “Awesome ambience, cocktails, charcuterie plate, live jazz, love this place!”

Blackbird

This intimate, dive-inspired cocktail bar, located in the basement of the Sydney Building, has cultivated an intriguing atmosphere. Supporting local blues, soul and jazz artists with regular live-music, Blackbird pays homage to the muso culture of the 60s and 70s. The cocktail menu offers a drink for all tastes and is accompanied by a great range of beers, wine and bites to eat.

As Marvin Glass wrote on Google, “This place is a MOOD – flaming cocktails, heartfelt music and friendly staff kept bringing us popcorn! We felt at home here, keen to come back again next visit to Canberra.”

Bar Rochford

This wine and cocktail bar tucked away in the Melbourne Building of the CBD is all about fine food, great wine, and excellent atmosphere. If you can spot the door to Bar Rochford, you’ll climb up a flight of stairs and find yourself in a cozy, modern-industrial space boasting the huge arched windows of the Melbourne Building. There is a large central bar, intimate booths, wine-bottle candles and a fireplace, creating a classy atmosphere perfect for both midday and late-night drinks.

As Amelia McLean writes in their Facebook review of Bar Rochford, Fab service, delicious food, well curated wine menu, trendy/cosy space. Loved it!”

Classic Gin Martini from Bar Rochford. Photo: Sophia Brady

White Rabbit

Whimsical, decadent, and memorable, White Rabbit offers a totally unique cocktail experience. Perfect for the young at heart, the artistic team behind White Rabbit serve up interesting, out-of-the-box cocktails. With a menu inspired by characters of Alice in Wonderland, garden-like interior design and wall of glass cabinets filled with liquor in bottles that look like magical potions, you’ll feel as though you’ve travelled through the looking glass when you arrive at White Rabbit.

As Marcus Jan Csomor wrote Google, “Really Enjoyed Myself, wanted to sit back and enjoy a nice cocktail and the staff and atmosphere was perfect. Highly recommend White Rabbit.”

Looking for more great places in Canberra to visit on your next night out? Check out our articles on the best bars and restaurants in Kingston, the best wine bars, the best Asian restaurants, the best fine dining and the best pubs in Canberra for a useful guide to our city’s best spots to eat and drink.

Your experience with cocktail bars in Canberra.

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you been to any of the cocktail bars listed above? Have you got a favourite cocktail bar? Share your thoughts and feedback below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I ask a bartender to make me a cocktail that isn't on the menu?
Absolutely! Whilst they may not print out all the classic cocktails on their menus along with their own house creations, that doesn't mean they can't make an old fashioned or a negroni for you. However, if what you're after is something a little more obscure, have a chat to your bartender and see if they have any questions - or even recommendations to suit your tastes!
What is the difference between a mixologist and a bartender?
A mixologist is someone who has studied cocktail craft and specialises in making and creating cocktails. A bartender is also able to make cocktails, but they aren't as specialised as a mixologist.
What are some good cocktails that are low-alcohol?
If you're after a cocktail but you don't feel like having three standards in one glass, ask your bartender about a daiquiri or a lemon drop - both are very simple yet delicious cocktails that any bartender can make, and are relatively low-proof.
Can any cocktail be made alcohol-free?
Being a non-drinker shouldn't mean you can't enjoy a tasty cocktail! While not every cocktail can be made non-alcoholic, most certainly can. Have a chat to your bartender and see what they can whip up for you.
Do cocktail bars also serve food?
Most do, but some may not. If food is what you're after, it's best to check with the cocktail bar before you book.

What's Your Opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
69 Responses to The best cocktail bars in Canberra
Melissa Power Melissa Power 8:56 pm 10 Dec 20

Angela Van Dyk add to our list

Louise Richter Louise Richter 10:31 am 10 Dec 20

Some hints on where to start sometime, Suzie O'Callaghan! 😊

Caribou Kingston Caribou Kingston 10:25 am 10 Dec 20

Thanks for the inclusion big love ❤️

    Brenton Higgins Brenton Higgins 6:25 pm 10 Dec 20

    Nothing describes Caribou more than this line in the story... “ an enthusiastic team of bartenders and mixologists who are as excited about your next cocktail as you are.”

    Bec Cody

    Bec Cody Bec Cody 6:34 pm 10 Dec 20

    Brenton Higgins hells yes

Leeroy Petersen Leeroy Petersen 10:23 am 10 Dec 20

Thanks for including us Caribou Kingston big love ❤️

Samantha Neal Samantha Neal 8:02 pm 09 Dec 20

Urvi Florent Rae Lock next night out

Jacqueline Stack Jacqueline Stack 5:44 pm 09 Dec 20

Following

Vanessa Schimizzi Vanessa Schimizzi 4:33 pm 09 Dec 20

Grace Burton going up on a Tuesday

Donna McTavish Donna McTavish 6:56 am 09 Dec 20

Fiona Hawksworth Daniel Wake Paul Kirk - so many options still to try🍹

Cornerstone CBR Cornerstone CBR 9:15 pm 08 Dec 20

We won’t take it personally that we didn’t get a mention - but we will invite you out and encourage you to ask for our secret cocktail list ..... 🤫

#gungahlinspub

Beirut Bunker Bar Beirut Bunker Bar 3:16 pm 08 Dec 20

Thanks for including us!

Michele Gorman Michele Gorman 2:12 pm 08 Dec 20

Zaab in Brandon is great too

Janine Cunningham Janine Cunningham 8:02 am 08 Dec 20

Terry, Shantell, Adam, Andrew and Hope we need to go to Tipsy Bull and Hippo Co I feel.

    Hope Viertel Hope Viertel 12:31 pm 08 Dec 20

    Janine Cunningham I would definitely be keen!

barman101 barman101 11:03 am 02 Feb 10

good point, if you are inventing new cocktails it is great to save a little taster and even better that your letting your other staff try it. every palate is different so the more people that try it, the more feedback you will get and the better your creations will be.

i also believe being able to have a drink with the client shows alot of character and not many bartenders in canberra can do that (mainly cause there all uni students needing extra cash not caring about what they are doing). Cheers to you worldmessiestbar

worldsmessiestbartender worldsmessiestbartender 10:50 am 28 Jan 10

I’d agree with barman 101 to an extent, classics should need no tasting, after 15 years of making martinis, I know what they taste like. If I make up a cocktail, I keep a little left over, so that the other staff can try it.
If you are making up cocktails, unless you are at uni or have no knowledge of what taste is, you should have a decent idea of what the end product will taste like, and any decent bartender will know what flavours go together.
I am a big fan of the bartender being able to enjoy a good (small) cocktail with the client. It depends on the bar though.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 10:27 am 28 Jan 10

May your career here in Canberra be long and prosperous barman101!

barman101 barman101 9:55 am 28 Jan 10

tylers made a good point, ive been a bartender for 9 years now, ive competed and won competitions in uk, france and indonesia, the fact of the matter is, no bartender should taste the drink he has made, particularly if it as a classic, especially if its off there own bars cocktail list. the only exception is if a patron has asked a batender to to create a specific cocktail and the bartender might not have the same ingredients, therefore is trying to replicate a drink that they would be happy to serve. in training my staff with a new cocktail list i would always get them to watch how i made it, then do a tasting session (same goes for the wine list – all staff should have a knowledge of how the wine tastes so there not dribbling rubbish to the patron).

And someone asked about muddle, i noticed its one of the only good bars in town open early week, monday- sat 4pm to late

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 11:35 am 09 Feb 09

Mate, it’s standard practice for chefs in kitchens to taste the food they are producing so I don’t see why you’re getting your knickers in a twist over a barman doing the same thing. Makes sense to me.

You’re 100% right – but they’re not doing it about 1 meter away from the patrons. Big difference in my opinion, and I’ll say gain, it looks f**king amateur and ridiculous!

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 11:33 am 09 Feb 09

Tyler, you’re joking right? its not as if they put their straw in there and suck away half of your drink, … its the smallest sample to ensure that the quality of the drink is up to standard, .. more than happy for them to do that anytime. … from working within the industry, I’ve seen it happen many times here, and interstate

I’ve previously worked in the industry for years mate, and frequented many cocktail bars overseas – and NEVER seen it. If the bartenders are worth half their salt, they’ll practice outside patron hours and get it spot on. Part of the skill of being a cocktail tender is getting your drinks right EVERY time.

As for keeping my comments out of this post – last time I checked this was an opinion forum, or “soap box” – if you can’t stomach others’ opinions, perhaps skive off back to FB or some such site.

phar978 phar978 1:16 am 09 Feb 09

Hey thanks for the comments guys! good to know people like coming to the kremlin! I am staying in canberra but will be at the bar drinking in future and not working unless they really need me :)ask for the bar tenders special when you go or when in doubt ask for a strawberry caprioska they are always tasty. Oh and to the guy about tasting with the straw your wrong man its good that they test drinks it is making sure that the drink is up to their standards and its not like they take much at all and do not contaminate the drink, it is important when you muddle drinks with sugar such as a mojito as it can taste so different if you put too much or too little sugar in. ciao , Laura (kremlin bar)

canberracapital canberracapital 11:40 pm 08 Feb 09

PJ O’Reillys in Civic is pretty good…especially during happy hour!!!

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

 Top
Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site