Best bars and pubs in Canberra right now? You simply cannot go past these establishments without stopping in for a cocktail, aperitivo, rum, craft beer or whatever’s your poison. 

Joe’s Bar offers a wry wink to Canberra’s Brutalist architecture with its centerpiece, a custom concrete curtain, which contributes to its theatrical and quirky vibe. This ‘small bar celebrating big things’ is a more lofty bookend to its sister cafe Muse, and is mobbed by locals wanting to indulge in rustic Italian fare such as polpettine di carne (meatballs) and cocktails such as the Bitter Pig, featuring pancetta-washed bourbon.

Back across town in Braddon, head down the dinky lane off Lonsdale Street, marked with a red neon light, to find Bacaro, the tucked-away small bar attached like a speakeasy sidecar to Italian & Sons. The main draw here is the aperitivo menu. Once you’re inside, sidle up to the marble-topped bar and order an amaro and a selection from the enviable cheese and meats list.

Honky Tonks is a top spot for tacos, and has the largest selection of tequila in town, while Canberra’s new Cuban-themed bar, Highball Express, has more than 300 varieties of rum on offer.

Mint Garden Bar is also a magical spot for a few cocktails, under trees festooned with fairy lights.

Molly’s is another chic, well-designed throwback to the Prohibition era and a dark, discreet place to go when you’re in party mode.

If it’s an old-school pub experience you’re after, however, the owners of Sydney’s The Hive Bar have taken over the reins of The Old Canberra Inn, which was built as a coach house in 1857. This atmospheric, low-ceilinged pub in Lyneham, not far from the Federal Highway, is now a fun, low-key family-friendly flophouse with a leafy beer garden, DJs and a more sophisticated take on pub food, as well as taps from which flow a variety of craft beers.

Australian Traveller magazine 66

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