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"Never confuse motion for
That famous Ernest
Hemingway quote is the motto
by which Grant Macara runs
Just more than a year old,
the Northbourne Avenue bar
and restaurant has firmly
cemented its place among
Canberra's elite, through a
mixture of stunning cocktails,
relaxed ambiance and
intriguing modern cuisine.
"I'm a bit of a literature buff
and that's where the quotes
come from," Grant says, as he
points to the main wall as you
enter the venhue.
"The Hemingway quote is our
motto. It's important to make
sure we have a consistency
and not just change things for
Nestled in the historic
Melbourne Building, Soju
Girl's blend of predominantly
Thai and Japanese foods have
created a modern Asian fusion
that few can replicate. Led
by head chef Derek Brown,
the mix of Asian spices and
local produce has proved to
be effective with a varying
"We think of ourselves as a pub
with a restaurant," Grant said.
"We wanted this place to be
a local for people who live and
work in the city, and that's how
it has become.
"From the cocktails to the
food, we pride ourselves on
fresh, top quality produce."
One of the major changes
in its first year has been the
development of the Canberra
Bar Front, in collaboration with
a number of other City bars.
The collective works together
to improve the Canberra bar
scene and it has enhanced
training and networking
opportunities for the bar and
"It all came about with an
inter-bar paintball challenge,
the west-side of Northbourne
[Avenue] against the east,"
"From there, we've had
cocktail competitions, group
training and a whisky master
class at Hippo Bar.
"I think it's important
to provide a work-friendly
environment and things like
this can definitely help that."
41-43 Northbourne Ave
P: 6257 5328
When Nick Tuckwell and
Mike Kadinski took over
Kremlin Bar last year, they
aimed to change the way the
Northbourne Avenue venue
Gone is the heavy Russian theme, the dark
walls and the goth feeling and in its place is a
focus on customer service, quality cocktails and
a chilled atmosphere.
"It was much more heavily Russian themed
before but now there's so much focus on
service that we've earned new customers and
built a reputation for it," Nick said.
"Our whole thing is building a rapport with
customers, we like to have a relationship
with people and to be honest, the results are
exceeding our expectations."
With a focus on high end cocktails, ciders
and beers but at reasonable prices, the duo's
first strides into bar ownership look to have
Among the cocktail menu are signature
drinks including the Alligator Boogaloo -- which
consists of Paraiso, vodka, peach and guava --
while the duo, along with bar manager Duncan
Stanton, offer freshly squeezed fruit juice in
"When you see the juice squeezed to order,
you know you're getting something that little
bit different," Nick said.
"We have worked on the techniques and the
products, including the introduction of a tapas
menu, and it seems to be working."
In 18 months at Kremlin, Duncan has seen
a number of changes but he believes the bar
has cemented -- and enhanced -- its reputation
"I love the ethos here and the quality of the
drinks," he said.
"It's a great place to work. We have so many
different types of people here, it's very diverse.
It's all come together very well."
KREMLIN BAR AND TAPAS
A: 65 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra City
P: 6257 7779 W: kremlinbar.com.au
The speed of change in Canberra's
bar scene has surprised Honkytonks
director Tom Hertel.
Just one year on from opening
in Garema Place, Honkytonks has
arguably changed the direction of
the city's bar culture, transforming
Canberra City into a year-round
"We could not be happier. We
have had a fantastic year starting
with a crazy opening summer and a
terrific winter," Tom said.
"We have made many friends and
drunk a tonne of sangria.
"We can't believe how quickly the
bar scene in Canberra is developing.
We are by no means the new bar in
town, which is great."
The ethos at Honkytonks has been, in Tom's
words, the combination of "music, art and
tequila" and it's something that's been a hit
with City drinkers. From art exhibitions to
international DJs and the addition of home-
made tacos, the eclectic mix has appealed to
everyone from public servants to hipsters.
"We have been lucky enough to host
numerous parties and events at Honkytonks
over the last year. All the Wednesday
exhibitions certainly sit somewhere at the top
of the highlight list, along with some of our
reggae gigs that we have had the pleasure of
putting on," Tom said.
"These creative individuals play such a
key role in helping us develop our identity
as a venue and build a creative culture
around the bar."
That creative scene has latched on
to Honkytonks, along with a handful of
other City venues, and Tom believes that
it is the future of Honkytonks.
"Our passion at Honkytonks is, and
always will be, music and art. Now
that we are a bit more established as a
Canberra venue, our priorities lie well
and truly in building the local art and
music scene," he said.
"We have been blessed by so many talented
people exhibiting their work at Honkytonks
and are fortunate enough to have many more
A: 17 Garema Place, Canberra City
P: 6262 6968 W: drinkhonkytonks.com.au
PHOTO: DANIEL SPELLMAN
PHOTO: DANIEL SPELLMAN
PHOTO: ROHAN THOMSON
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