Hippo Bar general manager Tayla Lewis serves up a drink. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
I once worked in the public service. I walked away from the experience with a passion for RPM (thanks to subsidised gym membership), a disdain for Diana Ferrari shoes and a palate for Friday drinks, mainly to distance myself from the biggest crime against humanity - ''casual Friday''.
Here's a tip grads - a little nugget of knowledge you will treasure for the rest of your PS working life - you should always book a meeting/appointment/surgery for 4.30pm on a Friday.
Friday afternoon drinks (or ''after dark drinks'' if it's 5.01pm in winter time) is where you shake off the shackles of your salubrious nine-to-five schedule and spend some of your hard-earned $30,000-plus salary at some of the fine/not so fine/downright dodgy watering holes of our capital.
Playground Martini & Tapas Bar, in Garema Place, Civic. Photo: Melissa Adams
If you want to know where to drink, when and why, The Canberran blog is your best friend. The anonymous website offers ''a snobby (though tongue-in-cheek) look at the finer sides'' of Canberra, for those wanting to charm that special someone you met in your first rotation, or impress that spunk you've been making eyes at over the croquembouche at your fifth morning tea for the week. Here are the places The Canberran suggests you and your MasterCard should frequent sans lanyard.
Hippo Bar (upstairs in Garema Place)
Forget the sign that says ''Lounge Bar'' - the Hippo is more like a speakeasy. Dark lights, jazz and burlesque are on offer. Performing arts meet crafted-cocktails in this late-night den of earthly delights. It's a cloud of serenity above the morass of the city.
Latte Art by Ona Coffee Manuka barista Caleb Evans. Photo: Karleen Minney
Knightsbridge Penthouse (Mort Street, Braddon)
The furniture is as eclectic as the crowd. Expect an impeccably well-dressed clientele who put a lot of effort into showcasing what you'll be wearing in six months' time. Still, the ''Knighty'' avoids pretentiousness thanks to its friendly bar staff and multiple spaces within which to find your comfort zone. Think delicious cocktails garnished with post-industrial ''chic''.
Kennedy Room (Kennedy Street, Kingston)
The one-stop-shop for those southside revellers who were lucky enough to jag that 12-month lease in Kingston or Manuka. The Kennedy Room moves seamlessly from afternoon pub atmosphere to elegant dining to a kick-up-your-heels dance-floor. Before you know it, you've been there for hours and made a bunch of new friends who may include press secretaries and other political heavyweights during sitting weeks.
Transit Bar (Akuna Street, city)
Truly subterranean in location and style. Catch your favourite up-and-coming DJs and bands before they get famous and sell out. The karaoke is a must-do and the pool tables hold a steady crowd (of snooker players not stripper wannabes dancing on the felt). The Transit Bar is a one-size-fits-all kind of place that really is ''all about the music, man!''
The Hyatt Hotel (Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla)
The original Canberra Hotel is the perfect late-night venue for a small party (of two). Relax in the expansive foyer, flag down a classically-dressed staff member and ask for a martini or Champagne to be delivered to your seat. The art deco palace, which has hosted more heads of state, rock stars and dignitaries than any other venue in Canberra, also serves the city's best nightcap. During summer, they serve Moet & Chandon in the courtyard (remember it's pronounced ''Mo-et'' not ''Mo-ey'').
Mooseheads, London Circuit, Civic
For the nights when all you want to do is forget the week where you learnt the acronym of every department in the Australian Public Service, this is the only place to go. Book a cab and do not wear shoes that cost more than $39.95.
Shots of sticky liquor, every Rihanna song ever made and flesh as far as the eye can see. This Canberra institution is famous for its student crowd and could be classified somewhere between Coyote Ugly and Girls Gone Wild. Before getting ''loose at the Moose'', Playground and Soju Girl are the places to enjoy a substantial and sophisticated tipple before you are overcome with a need to dance like a Pussycat Doll, hug a stranger and tell people you love their outfit while you wait in line for the bathroom.
If that all sounds too overwhelming, head to Galaxy inside the Casino. Disclaimer: only enter if frosted glass windows with glow-in-the-dark stickers and a juke box are your thing.
For the morning after the night before, or those looking forward to enjoying Canberra's healthy way of life and prefer espresso to espresso martinis, good coffee shops will become your best friend.
Cafe2cafe - Canberra's resident coffee fanatic who could spot the difference between a single-origin brew and a communal kitchen instant Nescafe in a police line-up - suggests the following cafes to plug into your GPS:
- Two Before Ten (Civic)
- Harvest (Civic)
- Cafe Ona (Fyshwick)
- Farmer's Daughter (Yarralumla)
- Lonsdale Roasters (Braddon)
Now you have everything you need in your liquid arsenal. Drink (responsibly) and be merry!