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The Best Cocktail Bars In Canberra

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

To help you find the very best cocktail bars in the Canberra region, we consulted with the locals. They shared their top picks, and we’re ready to pass on the region’s favourites.

So, without further ado, let’s introduce the top four cocktail bars in Canberra and surrounds.

What makes an excellent 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 top cocktail bars in Canberra according to you

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 19 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.

Hippo Co.

Hidden away in the heart of Canberra’s city centre you’ll find Hippo Co., a sleek, hip, boutique whiskey and cocktail bar. Discover some of the finest drinks in the region, all crafted by creative, passionate, and experienced mixologists. The atmosphere of this stunning cocktail bar is nothing short of lively – think exposed brick walls, live blues music, and friendly banter. The team behind Hippo Co. also offers Cocktail Masterclasses for small groups, so you can try your hand at mixing drinks.

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 service up some of the most interesting, out-of-the-box cocktails in the Canberra area. Drop in on a Sunday for their renowned Tipsy Tea, a delectable spread of sweet and savoury bites served with White Rabbit’s signature cocktails.

Bar Rochford

Tucked away in the historic Melbourne Building is Bar Rochford. Boasting an elegant, sophisticated interior, this local favourite serves up some of the best drinks and meals in Canberra. Both their food and cocktail menu changes regularly, so there is always something new to try.

Tipsy Bull

Love a good gin and tonic? Head to Tipsy Bull, a ‘fine-ish’ dining restaurant and bar that specialises in gin. They serve up over 230 varieties to sample, with new labels hitting the bar shelves every week. All gins are served with deconstructed botanicals and tailored tonics. You simply won’t get a better G & T anywhere else.

Who did you pick?

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 bars listed above? Have you got a favourite cocktail bar? Share your thoughts and feedback below.


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54 Responses to The Best Cocktail Bars In Canberra
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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!!!

astrojax astrojax 10:19 pm 08 Feb 09

mooseheads? labor club? nice shandy if ya ask right, be-yoo-tafull on a hot day.

i rekkun trinity does all right. julep is class – but both are pretty pricey. better value and taste doing some of the wine list at benchmark.

megaJames megaJames 1:43 pm 07 Feb 09

I like Suburban when in Dickson and Kremlin Bar when in Civic. Kremlin also has some cool Russian beers! Hippo is good as well but it gets so packed in there you can never get a seat later in the night.

G-Fresh said :

Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Laura is g0ne!

I heard on facebook that hottie Laura isn’t going anymore so hopefully she stays around at the kremlin.

kean van choc kean van choc 9:34 am 07 Feb 09

I’ll give another thumbs up for Muddle Bar – they do a great lychee martini – but I admit I haven’t been there in about a year.

Juice Terry Juice Terry 3:14 am 07 Feb 09

tylersmayhem said :

Trinity in Dickson…

…if you think it’s appropriate for the dude making the cocktails to continually dip a straw in each creation to taste it to make sure it’s “spot on”. I could not believe it when I saw this the ONE time I’ve been there.

I’m not likely to return. I would have expected their barmen to have a little more experience than straight out of CIT.

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.

Genie Genie 12:44 am 07 Feb 09

While everyone is commenting on good cocktails… what are most places like for price !? Eg whats the average cost for a drink.. ?

Coz sadly I’m a tad trashy and can’t go past $5 cocktails at Mooseheads on a Friday or Monday night…

p1 p1 10:51 pm 06 Feb 09

I like a nice pint of guiness, so I probably should never have posted in this thread. I do have some friends that seem to like Trinity though.

And I have never witnessed the sampling of drinks by bar staff in any country.

Smackbang Smackbang 10:09 pm 06 Feb 09

Has anyone heard good things about B-bar in Kingston?

Here’s a crazy idea – why don’t you just go there and make up your own mind?

shiny flu shiny flu 7:32 pm 06 Feb 09

There’s no Class without ass. Ba dom tish.

Trinity/Knightsbridge/Hippo/Julep are good places to impress Labor club types.

CoffinRX2 CoffinRX2 7:13 pm 06 Feb 09

Trinity Bar dickson is the only place to go for cocktails in town, with Julep coming in second.

And to whoever said its turned trashy lately? are you serious? … They were great clients of mine previously, and since moving from the hospitality industry am there on average 4 nights a week either with friends, a quick drink or just to chill out, and its the people that work there and the vibe of the crowd which makes it a very unique bar in town.

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. …. Guess its good to keep people with opinions like that away

New Yeah New Yeah 6:26 pm 06 Feb 09

Near the corner of Mort St and Elouera St in Braddon

Pandy Pandy 6:12 pm 06 Feb 09

Where is Knightsbridge?

New Yeah New Yeah 5:48 pm 06 Feb 09

Knightsbridge is good, but I preferred its previous incarnation as Mortis Bar. I can’t recall the quality of cocktails, but the place was unique, which is something to be cherished in Canberra’s identi-bar scene. Too bad it’s gone, I guess Canberra in 2003 wasn’t ready for a mortuary themed bar.

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