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Molly bar in Canberra
Photograph: Martin OllmanMolly

Where to get a drink in Canberra

With wineries, wine bars, breweries, whisky bars and more, the city's drinking culture is sophisticated and varied

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Encircled by wineries – over 140 of them – Canberra is the perfect base for winery hopping and cellar door shopping. But within the city itself there are wine bars, breweries and even hidden whisky bars. Whether you're seeking a quiet, cosy drink or a party atmosphere, the city can deliver.

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If anyone ever complains about Canberra’s nightlife, just nod quietly and then laugh all the way up the stairs to Bar Rochford, where you will be enjoying a glass of the grippy, slightly volcanic Rami wine from COS in Sicily. This is undoubtedly the best little wine bar in the ACT and once you’re here, you’ll never ever want to leave. Once you’re up in the cosy confines of this first floor bar you could be in Melbourne, or Berlin or deepest Darlinghurst. Let them guide you on a vinous adventure that traipses the world, but if you don’t order food too it’s a lost opportunity. 65 London Circuit, Canberra 2601. 02 6230 6222. Tue-Thu 5pm-late; Fri 3pm-late; Sat 5pm-late. $$

Fyshwick has been known for a lot of things, but these days it’s super-fresh beers that are pulling people to the tap rooms at Capital Brewing Co. Being an inclusive bunch, they let you bring your little humans and your four-legged friends while you try a crisp glass of coast ale or their famously juicy, tropical Rock Hopper for people who love the fresh bitterness of hops. You can book a brewery tour while you’re there, or just kick back with a burger or hot dog from Brodburger. 3/1 Dairy Rd, Fyshwick 2609. 02 5104 0915. Daily 11.30am-midnight. $

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The thing that sets wine tastings apart often comes down to the snacks on offer. At Four Winds, your sampling of sparkling riesling, cool-climate shiraz, or a barely blushing sangiovese rosé can be accompanied by woodfired pizzas for lunch, or you can construct your own grazing plate with the array of cheeses and deli goods in the fridge. This way if no one in the group is into manchego, it doesn’t have to be the forlorn third addition to the cheese plate that everyone leaves until last. 9 Patemans Ln, Murrumbateman 2582. 02 6227 0189. Thu-Mon 10am-4pm. $

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Hidden in the northeast corner of pedestrian square Hobart Place with only an old-school yellow lantern to guide you to its wooden door, Molly is a basement whisky bar where you can easily lose your sense of time or place. They have more than 300 bottles, from surprising locales like India, France and Italy – as well as the usual suspects: Scotland, Japan and the United States. Representing on the home front are Tasmanian drops like Lark and Sullivan’s Cove. Wooden Door, Odgers Ln, Canberra 2601. 02 6179 8973. Mon-Wed 4pm-midnight; Thu-Sat 4pm-2am; Sun 5pm-late. $$

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It might not have the name recognition of the Barossa, but Canberra’s cool climate makes it an excellent wine region for pinot noir, sangiovese, riesling, chardonnay, merlot, shiraz, tempranillo and gruner veltliner. At Shaw Vineyard Estate you can come in for a tasting at the cellar door that overlooks the vines, or to make a day of it, book into the Olleyville restaurant where you can feast on a whole duck from the woodfired oven, a 12-hour lamb shoulder or racks of pork ribs designed for sharing. 34 Isabel Dr, Murrumbateman 2582. 02 6227 5827. Winery Wed-Sun 10am-5pm; restaurant Wed noon-3pm; Thu, Fri noon-late; Sat 8am-late; Sun 8am-3pm. $$

 

Clonakilla

Out on the Barton Highway towards Yass is the little winery hub of Murrumbateman, where you’ll find the cool climate shirazes that this wine region is famous for. Red drinkers will find their spiritual home at Clonakilla Vineyard, which is the place to try their rare and small batch releases before you drop all your hard earned on a case of the really good stuff.

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