The best wine bars in Canberra

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Bar Rochford

Bar Rochford, one of Canberra’s most recommended wine bars. Photo: File.

Few things in life can top a glass of fine wine. Complex, unique, indulgent, and simply delicious – a good wine truly is a taste sensation. And we Canberrans are lucky enough to be in one of the world’s best wine-producing countries, amongst some of the best wineries in the south east region of Australia.

One of the best ways to sample a range of these delicious wines is by visiting a wine bar. These bars specialise in fine wine, offering up a diverse, ever-changing collection of both local and international wine. Some serve up starters and meals alongside their drinks so that you can explore wine pairings. When you discover an incredible wine bar, you’ll find yourself coming back again and again.

But wine can be intimidating to explore, and particular to each individual’s tastes – so how do you find a wine bar that is perfect for you? In this article, we’ll give you a list of what to look for in a great wine bar, as well as a guide to some of Canberra’s favourites.

What makes a great wine bar?

So much goes into making a fantastic wine bar. On your hunt, we suggest keeping a sharp eye out for the following traits:

  • An exciting range of wines. You head to a wine bar to sample the finest wines on the market, right? So, the very first thing to keep a lookout for is the wine menu. It should be diverse and exciting, containing a mix of local, national, and international labels, and give you opportunities to branch out from what you might normally try.
  • Knowledgeable staff. You don’t need a fully-qualified sommelier, but visiting a wine bar to taste and learn about wines does require a bartender who knows their stuff. A great wine bar will not just provide you with excellent food and wine, but they’ll be able to guide you through the evening effortlessly and smoothly.
  • Lively atmosphere. As with any bar that you visit, an upbeat and energetic atmosphere is a must. Not only does it help with overall enjoyment of the evening, but it’s also an indication of the venue’s popularity.
  • Food pairings. One of the best ways to taste wine and decide what your tastes are is to pair it with food. A good pairing will not only elevate your enjoyment of the wine, but also enrich the whole experience at the wine bar. And it helps if the food itself is delicious!

The best wine 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.

Without further ado, here are the top wine bars in Canberra according to the region’s local residents.

Bar Rochford

Tucked away in the iconic Melbourne Building, Bar Rochford is a local hotspot known for its stellar food, exciting wines, and smooth atmosphere. Both the food and wine menu change regularly by a dedicated team who are passionate about using in-season produce to develop unique culinary creations.

As Joshua Huxtable wrote on Google, "Always fantastic! I've been going to Rockford for a couple years now and [their] wine list is ever-changing and has some truly unique wines by the glass. The food is also of exceptional quality with some funky combinations, always well balanced and nicely presented."


What’s better than a glass of wine? A glass of wine and a fresh, wood-fired pizza. Bacaro is an authentically Italian pizza and wine bar accessed through an unsuspecting laneway. Grab a seat at the chic marble bar and devour a freshly made pizza or generous bowl of fragrant pastas.

As Mark Solomons wrote on Google, "Oh yes this is pizza. Beautiful proofed fluffy crust. We attended the 5-6pm pizza in the back room and decided to have several glasses of nice Italian red wine. The waiter was amazing too and helped us choose wine we'd like. We will be back."


Rizla, found in the popular Lonsdale Street hub, is all about providing good times and even better wines. With the focus on Canberra’s best new vintage and cellared Rieslings and matching share-plates designed to pair specifically with each wine, this intimate enclosed garden setting is the ideal spot for your wine bar exploration. They also offer top of the range red and white varietals.

As Jordan Cassidy writes in their Google review, Really great menu and wine list, excellent ambience and very friendly team. Andrew was a delight!”

Hippo Co.

Nestled in the heart of Canberra (or rather, Braddon) is a boutique whiskey, wine, and cocktail bar that serves up some of the finest drinks in the region. That is, Hippo Co. The atmosphere is both classy and cosy, with exposed brick walls and warm, dim lighting. Sit back, enjoy a glass of top-quality vino, and indulge in a little banter.

Emma A wrote a glowing review on Google, saying "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."

Amici Wine Bar & Deli

This deli, wine and cocktail bar located in the heart of the CBD is a gorgeous spot, serving up cheese, cured meats, hand-stretched pizzas all alongside a fantastic array of delicious wines.

See what Facebook user Beth Penman wrote about their experience at Amici, Could not recommend highly enough! Great food, extensive wine list and love the fun relax vibe! (…) My husband and I will be back soon!”

Are you looking for more ideas on how to spend a night out in Canberra? Check out our articles, the best cocktail bars in Canberra and the best Kingston Foreshore bars and restaurants for some handy guides to the best spots in town! You might also like to read through our list of Canberra’s best bistros, best gastropubs, best steakhouses, and best pubs.

Your experience with wine 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 visited any of the wine bars listed above? How was your experience? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments area below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What wines are local to the Canberra region?

Canberra’s wine region is home to 140 vineyards and more than 30 cellar doors, and the regions of Murrumbateman, Lake George and Collector are all considered "local." Some local names that you might might recognise are Collector Wines, Lark Hill, Lerida Estate, Surveyor's Hill, Long Rail Gully, and the award-winning Clonakilla.

How do I pair wine with food?

Wine pairing may feel daunting, but there are some very simple rules of thumb that you can keep in mind when pairing wines if you want to do it right. The most simple would be that red wines pair well with bold, rich foods, especially red meats. White wines do better alongside lighter dishes, such as seafood and salads. Note that there can be exceptions to these rules, so talk to whoever's selling you the wine and get their professional opinion!

What is the most popular wine in Australia?

The most popular wine varietal in Australia is sauvignon blanc, followed closely by shiraz. However, the most popular winery in Australia (according to The Real Review) is Cullen Wines in Margaret River. Canberra District's own Clonakilla Wines comes in at number four!

If a wine is expensive, does that mean it's better?

Not necessarily! While higher quality wines may cost more because of special production processes, but whether or not a wine is good is completely objective. Don't feel compelled to break the bank on a bottle of wine.

Do wineries offer tastings?

Yes! Wineries regularly offer tastings, which is a great way to learn about a wine you particularly enjoy. You can also join a winery tour across a wine-producing region and sample all the great wines of that area.

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Some old names there, I didn’t much like most of them, have to say. I went to the Wig and Pen when it was Peppers! I was such a regular, I once paid for a shout with a cheque…

Terminus andThe Shanty always seemed similar, for some reason.

The old Canberra Inn was a nice place to go. And who remember the bar at Natex, in Building B? We’d play indoor hockey out there in B and F, and then rehydrate at Ron’s bar.

I never went to The Hungry Horse but the name still makes me giggle, as a drinking buddy, after a nigth out in Belco with us, decided she needed food before heading home and so went there. We heard the next day that she got a tad rowdy, cops came, and she dealt with four of them before being persuaded to accompany them to the station.

As we’re going through the archives, does anyone remember the name of what was a quite classy nightclub next to Antigo’s around from Baileys arcade? It’s still a club now but back in the early 90’s it was lovely and airconditioned and had a nice crowd. Damned if I can remember the name though!!

poptop said :

BerraBoy68 said :

There was a also a basement type pub near the Plaza that we used to go (i’m talking ’84-’85 but its name escapes me…

That would be The Shanty at the base of what was then the MLC Tower [now Lovatt Tower]; renowned for it’s chips and gravy and the sight of vampire like drinkers, emerging from the subterranean gloom and cowering at unexpected daylight.

One of the low rise lifts in the tower went to the basement allowing covert pub access to the office workers . . . Good times.

The Shanty!!! Thanks Poptop, that was really bugging me.

BerraBoy68 said :

There was a also a basement type pub near the Plaza that we used to go (i’m talking ’84-’85 but its name escapes me…

That would be The Shanty at the base of what was then the MLC Tower [now Lovatt Tower]; renowned for it’s chips and gravy and the sight of vampire like drinkers, emerging from the subterranean gloom and cowering at unexpected daylight.

One of the low rise lifts in the tower went to the basement allowing covert pub access to the office workers . . . Good times.

I remember gigging at Kambah tavern.

man that was scary…

Sorry for teh double post but… I live 200 meters up the road from the Kambah Tavern (the Boddington side, not Marconi) and have never been in there, but would like to, just to say I have. Can anybody tell me what to expect?

Scariest job I ever had in Pubs was as the DJ/security for a group of female strippers. Top pay but unhealthy. We used to work at Fyshwick Tavern, Mitchell Tavern and Jamison Inn. Working at Jamo was by far the scariest experience I’ve ever had. Telling bikers to keep the hands of the girls, return clothing that gets tossed around etc. does not make for healthy living. I worked behind the bar in a couple of pubs in the East End of London in the late 80’s and that was infinitely safer and more fun with great characters and a few famous faces regularly turning up.

The Hungry Horse. Now you’re speaking pure uadulterated boganese 😉

How true Thumper! I used to duck in here for a slice of pizza on the way home after a big night out (I used to describe it as a milk bar with a pub out the back). Stopped going in there when a girl I know and her boyfriend got the crap beaten out of them by the local ferels. They did nothing wrong other than walk into the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Boardroom at the Churches Ctr in Belco used to be a good lunchtime haunt as did the Terminus at Civic which used to have the best chicken Schnitzel in town at one point and the drinks were cheap. Only drawback was no natural light. And if we’re playing Dr Who, what about The Troubadour and Elbow Room in Phillip (is the latter one still open?). There was a also a basement type pub near the Plaza that we used to go (i’m talking ’84-’85 but its name escapes me…

As an older and wiser family man now I rarely go out to bars, and stick mainly to Clubs with kids play areas.

Hehehehhe classy establishment. There’d be blokes belting each other while the little old lady was making pizza.

Ant and Thumper you forgot the Hungry Horse in that group of hideous Belco post Labor club boozers.

All Bar Nun really is a waste of space. As for Mooseheads, it must be a condition of entry that one has a double digit IQ. King O’Malleys is a laugh. I visit Canberra annually and I know that I’ll always bump into an old Bobby McGees/Labor Club drinking colleague who is within a year of two of hitting 40 and still hasn’t grown up.

Wig and Pen is great for beer however THE regular drinker caused some trouble which left a bad taste so I give the place a miss.

Ok, What about a place, fairly nice, to drink on a Saturday afternoon, preferably with some live music. Or am i kidding myself ?

RuffandReady, I am. But he now runs another place in Woden part-time.

CanberraResident said :

Genie said :

I’m a cocktail girl – So if anyone wants to mention where the best VALUE for money cocktails are – i’d like to know.

julep lounge manuka, best cocktails in canberra. they have happy hour til 8pm where all cocktails are $10!! regular prices are around $13/$14, same prices as most other cocktails around canberra but I reckon their quality’s awesome. so in terms of value, they’re probably the best guys for quality and price. awesome vibe in their too friday and saturdays, really funky music. great crowd – no “kiddies” up there 🙂

too many other bars to mention around the berra for beers and wine, filthy’s great for a beer, debacle too.

grunge_hippy4:03 pm 22 Apr 08

woo! First post!

has motherhood and old age been that unkind that I don’t know many of these places??

back in the day, when it was cool to binge drink, pandoras and knights were the bar/s du jour. As I got older, I prefered filthy’s… hasnt changed a bit! never was one for mooseheads, and its sounds like it hasnt changed.

on the odd occasion that I get a leave pass, I dont mind king o’malleys in civic… i’ve never been one to go to wannabe yuppie places. had enough of that living in melbourne!

Pandy – are you serious? I thought Dennis moved up to Gosford to run a car yard or something? If you are serious, I’ll drop by there and say hi, because we always got along really well.

Kieran – thanks for the lowdown on the cheap eats.

Kieran Bennett12:03 pm 19 Apr 08

God I miss SouthPac. And Toast. I’m a bit lost without them.

Pheonix, Muddle, Moose if you wanna get stabbed. The Grill at Uni Pub, $5 snittys on a Tuesday, $5 steaks on a monday, $5 pizzas on a wednesday. $7 steaks every other day of the week. Can’t go wrong. The pool room is like a classy version of civic pub.

the Rugby Union Club (RUC) in Barton!! 7 dollar jugs from 3-5pm, $2.50 spirits from 9-10pm and the best one- FREE schooners of Coopers Pale Ale in any Brumbies game from when the ref blows the whistle til the first point is scored… good tapas too.

Timberwolf657:50 am 19 Apr 08

Bludger said :

Timberwolf are you talking about the old Clancy’s in Watson at the old Heritage Village? Gee I loved that place…

Indeed I am talking of The old Clancy’s, remember Canberry Fair?

justbands said :

Matildas! Now there’s a bast from the past. I spent many an underaged night drinking there.

I had my 18th birthday at Matilda’s…sigh!!!

Why do they have to close all the good places, those were the days when you had the occasional puff on a joint with a beer, you could smoke inside, the fights were with fists not with knives, They had Def Leppard on the duke box……oh how I reminisce:)

……and the wello

Captain Greggs, Boot and Flogger, Blind Beggars…..

Keerist, I’ve been perusin’ this here site for a while, but I didn’t think this was the place for old buggers to bore the yunguns with our reminiss’n. What about the Trav, Captain Cook (Pythagoras’ Disco), Lakeside (Settlers & Bavarian), Jack Stones and the Down Under. Goodnight all

Dennis and Nick now run Coffferes at Treasury.

Lots of underage drinking there too

Dennis and Nick were the guys who ran The Metro, the video game arcade in Manuka Lane back in the day, and they took over the Ranch for most of the 90s, so we are talking different eras.

Captain Greggs, Boot and Flogger, Blind Beggars…..

Ah, memories….

Yup! Captain Kiddies was where we went when the Beggars had yet again asked us for our ID. Sigh. We’d provide it, and then leave. The Pot Belly was much friendlier, but the music was sometimes a bit mellow. As for teh Boot, I have very hazy memories of nights in that place.

Ruff, we er patronised El Rancho in the very early 80s, didn’t know any names, just utilised their very helpful services!

Used to really enjoy Footnote when it first opened, too. They had a special glass room enclosing the dance floor, so if you weren’t in it, you could actually converse. They had a gorgeous doorman, too, Aaron was his name from memory, black guy. He used to look after us very well.

justbands said :

Matildas! Now there’s a bast from the past. I spent many an underaged night drinking there.

Oh my! I’d forgtten that place. We hung out there a lot, too. Great food and those grog coffees were the BEST!

Das Kapital in Narrabundah is fairly nice. I totally agree with everyones comments about allbar – that place has taken a dive.

The boardroom was good for underage drinking. They didn’t give a damn! Great times. And the ground floor will always have a special place in my heart.

ant, did you go to the Ranch back in the days when Nick and Dennis owned it? They were great guys, and I used to spend most of my disposable income there as a 19yo… used to sit at the bar all night drinking Carlton, staring at Tori the Beautiful, and then at closing time I’d put on The End by The Doors and sing every word before they kicked me out.

Thems were the dayz…

Timberwolf are you talking about the old Clancy’s in Watson at the old Heritage Village? Gee I loved that place…

Beggars. word

As long as we’re reminiscing, a tear comes to my eye whenever I recall gigging at the Rose and Crown in Weston.

To this day, I have not had a finer Long Island Iced Tea than the ones they used to make there. Some of you may not realise this, but the LIIT should actually taste like tea.

Matildas! Now there’s a bast from the past. I spent many an underaged night drinking there.

Timberwolf6511:16 am 18 Apr 08

realityskin said :

The Venue in Erindale at 4am.

Are you for real, that place is a dive, I wouldn’t go there if it was the last place open.
Use to be ok when it first opened and they played half decent music.
Now you have to be in a drugged out state to have any sort of enjoyment.
Say no to drugs…say no to the venue!!!
Bring back Clancy’s and Matilda’s Tavern.

Maybe I should have been clearer. Never went to Moby’s to drink, just went with the olds when we were kids.

El rancho was the venue of choice when we were underage. El Kiddies was its other name, or El Cheapo (cos it was). If the warning came through that cops were coming, we’d all scuttle out the back door into the back courtyard and hide! If a bar has a working back door, they can serve underagers.

Someone mentioned Moby Dicks, I practically grew up there, we went so often as kids. Can even remember going there when it was Taits Tavern. Don’t think I ever went there after I was 18, but they used to have great Christmas parties.

The Royal Hotel on Monaro St is pretty radical.

realityskin sed:

Trinity , tuggeranong, sunday arvo, 4 coronas (for $20) in a metal bucket filled with ice to take outside and listen to the jazz band. Gold.

$5 for a corona? shit. I used to pay $1 for corona back in the day. and they’re still not worth anything more. kerrist what are you thinking, paying a fiver for that urine-water?

Zorro’s, oh hell yeah. $4 jugs, filth and good times. 🙂

These days I would say Filthys in Kingston.

But for the best Canberra pub of all time I can’t go past Zorros.

I know it shut down in the late 90’s, but for an underage lad it provided a good introduction to the ways of the watering hole. Dunnys covered in graf, metal on the jukebox and a clientele that could make the Phoenix look high tea at the Hyatt.

Yes! Post #100 goes to me… and #101!

Does Debacle actually function as a bar? I’ve only ever been there to eat.

Back Alley Disco

Was it pointing towards Cube?

No one has mentioned Uni Pub – guessing that’s because it’s the same as moose but if you get there before dusk it’s ok. Kind of like that movie…

> s a new entrance and a sign “Back Alley Disco” anyone been ?

Isn’t that just a night at Academy?

Ah ha. And were there scum there?

Where’s that tavern in the tagline about seeing scum in the mirror? That sounds like an upmarket place.

barney said :

There’s a great pub/bar at the north end of Lonsdale St in Braddon. It has locally brewed beers, a good looking menu. I don’t know the name of it though !?!?

Debarcle. (and if anyone corrects my spelling they’ll look very silly!). I’ve heard good things about it. I’m too old to go to bars.

Thanks b2 and djk.

Was walking past the old center cinema the other day and noticed that down the alley next to where Greater union is being demolished there is a new entrance and a sign “Back Alley Disco” anyone been ?

Pheonix is good for gigging, thats for sure. Transit seems to host a fair amount of decent bands nowdays? ANUBar has a good amount too.

I’m guessing it’s the only one there, must be it.

I don’t know.


There’s a great pub/bar at the north end of Lonsdale St in Braddon. It has locally brewed beers, a good looking menu. I don’t know the name of it though !?!?

I reckon bars with brawls could levy a cover charge on patrons, for the entertainment. Love watching inept idiots trying to fight. It’s bloody funny!

Ingeegoodbee11:51 am 17 Apr 08

Ahhh … the Kambah Tavern. You used to be able to get a slice of pizzza there in the afternoons. They’d order a dozen pizzas from Dominos to be delivered at 6.00pm for bar snacks. Can you still smoke in bars? I remember the smoke in the Kambah Tavern would make the Phoenix look like a best practice air purification facility.

All Bar was awesome until they bought out the restaurant (Delicate Eating?) next door and turned it into a beer barn. The last time I was there – Sunday afternoon of a long weekend – the first brawling fight and bouncer-aided exit happened by 4pm. I will still go there on occassion but it ain’t what it used to be.

Golly. No votes so far for the Kambah Tavern. Why would that be?

@ RuffnReady – I haven’t lived up north for a few years, but when I did I played in pool comps at OCI in Lyneham and Dickson Tradies. Not sure if they are still on however.

The inner city bowls club (near Ainslie Primary) is good in summer plus they have karaoke and the best garlic pizza in town!

All Bar Nun on Sunday is where all people go that didn’t pick up at Mooseheads the night before.

Muddle bar in Civic does good cocktails, nice ambience too, but not what I would call value.

On the topic of dive bars, I can’t believe nobody has mentioned the Statesman Hotel in Curtin! When the smoking ban kicked in most places took it upon themselves to replace the smelly carpet and paint the walls fresh – not Statesman, it still stinks!

PLUS its an awesome joint for male bonding as most women refuse to go there.

@ Deadmandrinking- Turner Bowls is going through a bit of a renaissance- we’ve started going on the days when the thought of drinking at All Bar is enough to send you off to the Local Liquor next door. I think it’s going to become the preferred watering hole on weekends for our quiet crew. Plus- barefoot bowls on a sunny day is such a nice way to spend a Sunday.

CanberraResident10:25 am 17 Apr 08

Genie said :

I’m a cocktail girl – So if anyone wants to mention where the best VALUE for money cocktails are – i’d like to know.

Cocktails are like milkshakes. Not exactly the kind of drink you enjoy over a bowl of nuts with your bonza mates … waste of my hard-earned money, but the movie was good for its time … and every now and again I might fork out a few bucks to make the missus happy …

Have to admit, All Bar Nun is over rated !

No one has mentioned it but I have become a fan of the Lighthouse in Belconnen.
Always something on ! Trivia on Tuesdays, Ladies Night Thursdays, Sunday Sessions….
And the food is YUM !!! $7 Schitt’s some nights and they are to die for !

For fancy beers my other half is always dragging me to Debacles. Pizza is good… I dont drink beer.

I’m a cocktail girl – So if anyone wants to mention where the best VALUE for money cocktails are – i’d like to know.

Thankyou for your educational comments PM.

For me a good pub is about a relaxed atmosphere, cold drinks, friendly faces and live music – So my votes are for The Pot Belly, The Basement, Murrumbateman Inn and the Old Canberra Inn.

Ingeegoodbee said :

What a try hard wanker, tool. You only know this because its what you do. get a life sunshine.

Whatever. I was merely relaying my experience. I’ve been once, wasn’t for me. I have had up to ten times when people from Sydney or Melbourne (eg students, work) had friends visit and they wanted to take them to Trinity as opposed to their local. End of story.

Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy it. Horses for courses, as you said in your initial post.

Transit bar, Knightsbridge or Debacle for after work drinks. When after work drinks progress into the ugly end of the night, I usually end up at Phoenix…

AFC for footy action – come join me and the Carlton Crew to cheer the navy blues on!

RuffnReady, it’s upstairs near where mombassa used to be.

Deadmandrinking11:07 pm 16 Apr 08

Hey Morgan, I just moved to O’Connor and I already hate the all bar nun. Is the Turner Bowls club any good? Mates have said it’s cheap.

Yeah, the AFC is great – cheap beer and good people to watch the footy with too, generally a friendly bunch no matter which team you support.

Ingee – agree with comment #61 🙂

As for #62: The Phoenix stage consists of the small raised platform in the corner, roughly the size of a large dinner table. We’ve played there as both a 4-piece and 2-piece.

Thumper – happy to provide some vox if yr serious, I might need to know the songs though 🙂

I live in O’Connor and used to love All Bar, now we go down to the Ainslie footie club, cheap beer and they have big screens for the sport.

The All Bar Nun pink polo (PP) brigade should be killed with extreme prejudice.

I was riding my bike home one Sunday arvo and there’s Mr PP and his Mrs standing in the middle of the bike path with an entire OVAL next to them on which they could have stood. They had also left their bag on the path and thus were taking up the whole thing. As I diverted around these thoughtless c*^%s, I said: “you’re standing in the middle of a bike path”. PP then proceeded to shower me in insults while challenging me to a fight. If I had known how to fight, I would’ve given him the hiding of his life, but instead I rode away under RnR rule number 14 – never fight anyone who is looking for one.

Where is Monkeybar?

Ingeegoodbee9:15 pm 16 Apr 08

Sorry, since when did the Pheonix have a “stage”? I’ll admit It’s been maybe a decade since I had a beer in there, but I had no idea that they’d completely screwed up a perfectly good boozer with a ‘stage’.

Ingeegoodbee9:10 pm 16 Apr 08

In my experience, Canberrans go to Trinity when they’re trying to impress friends from Sydney or Melbourne. That’s not meant to be offensive to anyone, but it may explain the tip trays

What a try hard wanker, tool. You only know this because its what you do. get a life sunshine.

Speaking of gigs, jesus we’ve been lazy lately. We now have prezactly 1/2 of the band living in BrisVegas. Have done a couple of gigs as a side project – just me and the drummer gal 🙂

I stopped going out after they closed the Down stairs Bin, civic seems far less civilised these days

Skidbladnir: …whatever the Green Room\O’Sheas took over
The “Henry Grattan”, or “Grat”.

The Hellenic used to be good – dirt cheap beers, quiet enough to talk – but they’ve raised the price of beer, and the newly-opened offices are attracting bigger after-work crowds. Plus some sh’tty radio station keeps doing live broadcasts from there. The bistro’s gone downhill too.

Transit bar fucking rules. Good choice of beers, on tap and in the bottle, something on every night of the week, heaps of gigs from notable Aussie and international bands and DJs, pool tables, outdoor seating, food served late and a really good crowd of regulars. Not as divey as some places but still has that pub feel we all seem to be fond of.

Honourable mentions: Wig and Pen, Filthy’s, Edgar’s, Debacle – either for awesome beers or a good atmosphere or both.

Aye, dig the Phoenix. Agree with the comments made about All Bar Nun, too – it’s MooseHeads II as far as I’m concerned.

Deadmandrinking6:44 pm 16 Apr 08

The Pheonix is too small (or maybe I’m too big for it). Whilst I’ve met some cool people there, I think I’m too much of a vulgar, loud and stupid drunk to hang out with the regular crowd of hippee soon-t-be yippees.

Phoenix anyone? There isn’t a bar in Canberra that has more local and national bands on its quaint little stage, plus it’s great to have a quiet drink during the day.

Monkeybar in Civic is a good place on Fridays to score drugs and underage guls

Deadmandrinking5:34 pm 16 Apr 08

Tap – The basement is just enough bogan, just enough alternative. We can moan about it and try to run away – but it’s always going to come up and bite us in the arse. IT’S PART OF US! AHHHHH!

Skid – there’s a sweet dive bar at the long stay caravan park opposite Fyshwick (I think that’s Symonston) with what i believe is a Chinese restarurant attached. Only been there once, years ago, but was very impressed – cheap beer, plastic palm trees everywhere, level pool tables, 80s metal on the jukebox and plenty of frozen fingerfood around 6.

I live next door to All Bar and it’s still fantastic for a mid week quiet one but the weekend is just a whole different story. Since they expanded a crowd of collar-up boys with strange hair and fluro t-shirts have started drinking JB and coke and making a mess of the neighbourhood.

Anyone tell me where pool comps are north of the city? there’s one on Monday night at Civic Pub, but that’s all I know.

Odd… apparently moderated comments show up in the “Recent Comments” view but not the article body until they’re successfully modded.
I know that Bludger is at some point going to say: Has anyone seen the TV…

re “dive bar” vibe: it used to be great at whatever the Green Room\O’Sheas took over, but there’s a dive in Symonston that’s also very seedy.

You there permanently now S4anta ?

I figured you worked for DFAT, now I’ve got proof, on account of you are on an overseas posting.

I used to play in pool comps in Tuggeranong and wonder if half the places are still in business since the smoking ban. I reckon 90% of Waniassa Tavern patrons were smokers. The indoor clouds were unbelieveable!

The Chisolm Tavern isn’t nearly as dank and foreboding as it used to be. *sigh*

Ingeegoodbee – that underground dive at Woden was called The Shanty, but they turned it into a car park 🙁 I got my first job pouring beers at that place. Try Chisholm Tavern if you’re looking for a similar vibe!

Harmonie German club in Bundah – God’s own Lowenbrau (dark or light) on tap $6 for a 500ml. Killer schnitzel und saurkraut und stuff. Sit outside in the “smoking lounge” even for non-cancerers : a chained off concreate area looking onto the carpark and adjacent empty overgrown block….ambience in buckets

one caution : bongs (I think thats the collective) of Bundahites invade on centrelink paydays

also soul bar woden (aka Contented soul) has lost a bit of charm after the churh pews went but the menu has scored a much needed improvement with good beers on tap. Still a fave.

On a related topic (canberra boozing)- Hellenic Club in Woden has $6 cocktails fri night with a really awesome range and low yobbo factor… + you get to watch the comical drunken 30+ desperados swing it on the dancefloor trying to score with each other.

As others mentioned for the beer connisseur – Wig & Pen for awesoem hoppy beers like Hophead and Venom mmmmmm

sepi – it’s easier than that! Missing one or more letters, add apostrophe. Possessive noun ending in s, add apostrophe before the s – possessive plural noun ending in s, apostrophe goes after the s. That’s all anyone needs to know! Anyway, we ain’t gonna change the status quo… lol

Agreed, O’Neill’s in Dickson really needs to lift its game.

The staff are genuinely ugly and uniformly of angry dispositions, the manager\s don’t seem to give a shit (even when their staff are sitting on the bar), the pool table has all kind of strange grooves running through it, nobody ever seems to clean up spills unless one of the mnagers is watching them (an unmissable Guiness spill right near the entry went untouched until we pointed it out to them), and even in slow periods the service is crap.

PJ’s at Tuggeranong… I used to work directly above it, and during the day its almost fine to drink at. But when the sun goes down, its very much a “pint and a fight” event.

Trinity in Tuggeranong is a reasonable bar, clean, friendly, and they actually clean the place occasionally.

The Weston Irish Club wins a vote for best small club as the drinks are inexpensive (discounted for members), the staff are friendly, the food reasonable and the member women easy.
Stirling Labor generally put on better food if its a lawn bowling day though.

Canberra Southern Cross Club Woden is vastly superior to its CSCC Tuggeranong brother and any of the Labor Clubs around town.

Ingeegoodbee2:41 pm 16 Apr 08

numerous fatties wearing five year old supre tops that barely covered their ample bosom while gusszling down a smirnoff black!

Pass me a cushion, I need somthing to place on my lap …. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Thumper I can vouch for that! I’m not a tuggers local but I went to PJ’s once (very breifly) last year on a Saturday night. I thought I was going to get bashed by one of the numerous fatties wearing five year old supre tops that barely covered their ample bosom while gusszling down a smirnoff black! Going to tuggers is really like entering an alternate universe, but I will agree that O’Neills is the northside equivilent of PJ’s.

ON apostrophes – If In Doubt Leave It Out.

Most words ending in S don’t need one, so you’ll be right most of the time.

Or – if it isn’t someone’s name leave off the apostrophe.

eg – John’s and Jane’s = Right

Orange’s and Lemon’s – wrong.

Trinity , tuggeranong, sunday arvo, 4 coronas (for $20) in a metal bucket filled with ice to take outside and listen to the jazz band. Gold.

The Venue in Erindale at 4am.

I don’t normally post comments, but we’re talking beer here, so I figure I’d have a crack…

In my experience, Canberrans go to Trinity when they’re trying to impress friends from Sydney or Melbourne. That’s not meant to be offensive to anyone, but it may explain the tip trays.

The Labor Club is crap. Aside from half one’s mates being glued to the pokies, the head on the beer isn’t natural; it shouldn’t still exist after you’ve finished drinking the actual beer. I swear I saw it wink at me once.

Wig and pen is very nice – great for a chat. So is the Phoenix during the day. Filthy’s was the first bar I visited in Canberra, and I always love going back for a visit.

Knightsbridge Penthouse has excellent ambience. Fantastic chairs. The only better drinking chair is one I once used to use in the library at King O’Malley’s (it had no back to it so I remained ensconced in my overcoat), but it’s gone missing of late.

The Basement’s lines are actually relatively new (late ’06, if memory serves me correctly). The beer doesn’t have as much bubbles as other places because a) it doesn’t use “Headstart” or “Headmaster” glasses and b) colder beer actually has less bubbles. I’m not sure of the technicalities but I believe the Basement’s temp right runs by the Jack Daniels fridge behind the bar – that fridge has a temperature display, and I’ve seen it reach -9.

The Pot Belly is my favourite. It’s the people who make a pub, and the Pot actually has locals.

Has anyone seen the TV show “Ladette to Lady”?? Many a ladette could be found at PJ’s, they can start an Australian version!

Edgar’s is great for an arvo beer, Civic Pub for a game of pool and more beer, Hippo for a cocktail depending on how busy it is.

I miss the Gypsy Bar and Heaven – they were two of the greatest dives in the history of the world. And Toast. This town is sadly lacking in both neighbourhood pubs and Melbourne-style lounge bars with lots of comfy couches, funky music and low lighting. Unfortunately, places like Trinity and Knightsbridge seem to be glorified pickup joints every time I go there.

Oh, and Ingeegoodbee, why 2 apostrophes in Canberra’s? Also, ‘loos’ and ‘dens’ are neither missing a letter nor possessive, so no apostrophes. Why apostrophes are so difficult to use properly for the vast majority of the English-speaking world I will never understand. Oh, and I’m only being a pedant to beat the other pedants who will chime in! lol

fnaah – Trinity Tuggers is on Anketell Street in the “entertainment strip”. It seems to close early on a Saturday night though.

Worst pub – O’Neills in Dickson, it’s a pile of crap.

Stainless Steel Rat – where is Trinity in Tuggers? I know the one in Dickson, if a similar place has opened south of Hadrian’s Wall I’m there.

I was wondering if anyone was going to mention the Basement. That is pretty much my local (not particularly local anymore though). Its crap, but its my kind of crap.

The Basement in Belco.

Has to be Moby Dicks for sure.


for a pub – wig and pen.

Ingeegoodbee12:27 pm 16 Apr 08

The Basement in Belconnen you say … stale, flat beer from rusty pipes …. I’m getting all misty eyed with nostalgia! Is the barman surly in the kind of way that only happens when you interrupt someone reading a form guide, are the glasses badly washed and the crisps passed their use-by date?

Like someone said, the smell of stale beer and vomit is what defines a bar sometimes and that’s not always a bad thing … on the other hand anything that pretends to be an Irish pub should be avoided at all costs.

Old Canberra Inn during winter, Edgar’s Inn during summer and the Durham Arms when I can’t go without a pint of Zierholz.

Don’t go near Moosehead’s, All Bar Nun or Babar’s.

Ingee… the Basement in Belconnen may have that mank factor that you are looking for. The floor isn’t that sticky but the dunny sure does smell. The Bogan Basement, as I lovingly refer to it, is a fine bogan bar, such a shame that the tap beer has no bubbles, otherwise the place is perfect for beer and pool and bogan bands.

Ingeegoodbee12:06 pm 16 Apr 08

Tulip Lounge for smart cocktails, Filthy’s for hard drinking, that front bar at the Mawson Club for casual Sunday arvo beers, Debarcle for a beer and somthing to eat.

What I want to know is where are the manky places with sticky floors and bar-flys that we used to have years ago – like that dive that was underground in the plaza at Woden, the underground cess-pit in Civic that was open ’till dawn – near Happys – was it called the Subway? and the Stockade in Braddon …

stereo henry11:48 am 16 Apr 08

Parlour, which is owned by the Knightsbridge mob, that has just opened in the bottom of the New Acton complex on Edinbrugh Ave has a good vibe and serves tapas until 2.00am – and I here I was thinking you’d never be able to get a meal after 9.00pm in Canberra 🙂

Stainless Steel Rat11:43 am 16 Apr 08

Duke said :

Hey what’s the deal with these trendy wannabe bars like Trinity giving you little silver dishes with your change? I must have over 100 of them at home – 5 ashtrays for every room. I’ve started giving them back and say nah mate, i’ve got enough of these things already, and they just give me this weird look – wassup with that???

No idea Duke,

I must say I got amusement out of going into Trinity on a Friday night at 9pm wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt though. Kinda why I give them the thumbs up, they didn’t care I wasn’t quite so trendy, and still gave great service!

Wig and Pen. Creative beer in a (mostly) quiet place. Limited menu of stuff suitable for consumption with beer – it could do with an update. No pokies. No music. No TV. Friendly staff.

Oh, and I dropped into Mooseheads recently during the day because someone suggested we meet there. Not bad at all, and I might go back for lunch sometime. If there was a curse on the place, it may have dissipated. It’s still noisy when I go past on nights late in the week, but the crowd then would average but a small fraction of my vast age and probably appreciate such things.

What this town needs is something like Madam FlingFlong’s in Newtown (Sydney, not any of the others). Quiet, ambient music, temperature cool, comfortable lounge chairs, somewhat decadent deco.

Edgars is pretty top notch.

Worst would have to be All Bar – Hero Heaven is what we call it now. I hope Edgars never goes that way – I remember when Allbar used to be a good little place for a drink, now I refuse to step in the door.

neanderthalsis11:15 am 16 Apr 08

Regular drinking hole was the Kurrajong on a friday afternoon but they have been in freefall in terms of quality and price for a few months. Most of the former staff have left, even the regular the band seems to be avoiding the place. We migrated to Das Kapital at Narrabundah reasonably priced drinks, good tapas and nice atmosphere.

Hey what’s the deal with these trendy wannabe bars like Trinity giving you little silver dishes with your change? I must have over 100 of them at home – 5 ashtrays for every room. I’ve started giving them back and say nah mate, i’ve got enough of these things already, and they just give me this weird look – wassup with that???

Filthy McFaddens. Still not cleaned since it opened, stinks of old spew and spilt beer, like a pub should.

Has more whiskey and scotch labels than you can point a stick at, and the Guinness is kept fresh by the incumbents. They also stock cider on tap if you have a deathwish.

It now comes with more tradition, since they cleaned up some of the other crappy old bars around the place, and got more modern. Last time I was in the Phoenix I could actually see from one end of the bar to the other, which was a first for me – I think they may have changed some old blown lightbulbs.

Stainless Steel Rat10:58 am 16 Apr 08

Dropped by the Trinity Bar in Tuggeranong a few weeks ago. Good cocktails, Beez Kneez on tap and really friendly staff. They had a DJ playing music and volume was good, you could still hear people talking.


No, seriously. It’s more fun than a trip to the zoo (although with a slightly higher risk of some ape throwing faeces at you). Just remember to wear your stab-proof vest and thoroughly disinfect afterwards.

More seriously, as for bars, Julip Lounge in Manuka is a great spot for cocktails, if a little pricey. It’s the sort of place that Canberra has something of a shortage of.

My favourite bar/pub in Canberra is my local, but I’m not going to mention it, because I don’t want you bastards ruining it for me! 🙂

Oh and i’ve yet to find a single decent place to drink in Tuggeranong.

Knightsbridge, Trinity, George Harcourt’s Inn, Edgars, Kremlin, Hippo Bar – the only places to go really for the over 30s…I used to love all bar nun, but with the renovations it has lost all soul.

My local has become Soul Bar in Woden – good atmosphere, good clientele and miles ahead of anything else in the area (which is mostly clubs).

That Russian bar on Northbourne, Kremlin I think, is also a nice place as is Banara 1 if you’re in a more yuppie mood. Wig & Pen in Civic for quality beers and Phoenix Bar if you want a place to hide.

Places to avoid, oh where does one start? Any place with ‘Jack Lives Here’ signs on the windows, any place that holds more than 100 people, any place with drink specials, any place where groups of sporting teams drink.

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