Have you been to one of Canberra’s best bars yet?
Hidden speakeasy, Molly, opened up in February this year. There’s no phone number or address on its website, only GPS coordinates. Click on the coordinates and it takes you to googlemaps where it points you to the courtyard of Hobart Place. That’s all you get.
One Friday night, some friends and I headed there to check the place out. We’d been told to look out for a door with a light bulb above it. After ambling around for a little bit, we finally spotted a door with a red rope in front of it, and a single light bulb. The door was already open. There’s no signage or anything out the front to advertise what the place is. We hoped we were in the right place.
Go through the wooden door and down the stairs, and you’ll find the warmth and charm of a cosy old-fashioned speakeasy. It’s a little dark inside and the first thing I notice is the long copper bar that’s backlit to highlight all sorts of spirits and other liquors. People at the bar watch on as bartenders shake and pour their drinks and cocktails. I exclaimed with glee when I saw a small charcuterie nook opposite the bar in a tiny corner. Assorted cured hams hang down and cheeses sit on the counter. One staff member is behind the counter slicing up the meats and cheeses for hungry diners.
The floors are tiled and there’s a mix of tile and wood along the walls, along with a few framed pictures. An old glass display cabinet is lit up and eloquently filled with some glassware. Seating-wise, the speakeasy is fitted out with stools along the bar, a high-backed leather Chesterfield sofa, chairs and low tables in one nook, small tables and chairs dotted throughout the middle of the room, and leather booths at the back that can fit about 12 people per booth. The dim lighting bathes everyone in a dirty warm glow. (Photos on my iphone just couldn’t do the place justice as it was far too dark to get a good shot, so there are no photos of the interior sorry).
A meat platter ($25) was ordered containing 5 different cured meats and a side of thin slices of bread. I was impressed with the portions of meat provided. There was a lot on that platter. Slices of meat are tightly wound together. Some tongs would’ve made it easier to pull apart, but we used our fingers instead. Ahh, delicious cuts of salty meat.
|meat platter no flash|
There weren’t enough slices of bread to go around but I’m sure you could ask for more. A cheese platter can also be ordered (not sure how much).
|meat platter with flash|
I read on Canberra Martini’s blog that there’s another secret doorway to the whiskey room, which leads to another tasting room. I don’t drink alcohol but that sounds awesome! There’s also a copper-lined vault filled with cabinets which can be purchased to store your high-end beverages, where you will receive a key that allows you to go back any time to drink from your personal stash.
There’s a bit of a wait for drinks at the bar especially on a Friday night (less of a wait from around 8.30pm onwards). With roughly 20 cocktails listed on the menu, the interesting (or frustrating) thing about them is that there’s no description of what’s actually in the cocktail. Instead, the origins of the cocktails are listed. So you either must really know your cocktails, or ask the bartender what’s in everything. Bartenders are also happy to make anything you want. Try to get there early as there’s limited seating and it’s pretty small inside (no bookings accepted). Given the size of the place, it gets loud too.
Molly is full of charm and swagger. A lot of thought has gone into finding the perfect basement and embellishing it with 1920s decor and flair. Jazz music plays in the background and the atmosphere is just plain cool. I love the mystique and secrecy surrounding this place. There’s a sense of euphoria as it feels like you are part of something special. I really want go back (coming from a non-drinker, that’s saying something!)
I won’t tell you exactly where it is…finding it is half the fun! 😉 Check out Molly’s Facebook page. I love that all that’s written in the ‘About’ section is ‘shhh’. The City News article on Molly is also worth a read and to check out some photos of the interior.
Molly is open 4pm-2am Tuesday to Saturday.