Feeling the ‘Berra beat: a new dive bar in the capital

The Shaking Hand is a recently opened bar and live music venue in Canberra, from the same team behind the iconic Lansdowne Hotel and Oxford Art Factory. 

A dive bar in style, the venue takes its name from the fictional establishment featured in the lyrics to AC/DC’s ‘Let There Be Rock’. Inspiration has also been taken from famous Californian nightclubs, the Viper Room, Rainbow Bar & Grill, and Whisky A Go Go. 

Tim Keown, Group Venue Manager, introduced the venue, and explained what had attracted the team to the nation’s capital. 

“The Shaking Hand is in fact our first project outside of the Lansdowne in Sydney,” Tim says. 

“We chose Canberra because we saw an opportunity to bring something new and exciting to the local nightlife scene.”

Tim is positive about Canberra’s hospitality scene, which has not always enjoyed the best reputation, saying: “We love the city’s vibrant atmosphere and we think it’s the perfect place for a live music bar in what is a burgeoning market for travel too.”

“Overall, Canberra nightlife has really come into its own over the past year. There are some fantastic venues and events happening all over and we are so excited to be a part of this new era for the city, it was the right time to get involved and add something new to the city’s lineup.”

The basement where the Shaking Hand is found was previously occupied by Transit Bar, something of a Canberra institution, and Tim and his team have made a habit of restoring legendary music locations (the group previously stepped in to save the Lansdowne when it faced closure). Tim outlines why his team values this aspect of hospitality so highly. 

“Cultivating a space for live music in venues is incredibly important to us. We believe that live music has the power to bring people together and creates a sense of community,” Tim says. 

“We’re thrilled to be able to provide a space for musicians and music lovers alike to connect and enjoy some great performances.”

Restoring the venue to its former glory took a few months, but Tim states that it was worth taking this time to perfect The Shaking Hand.

“We couldn’t be happier with the new fit-out and how it’s come out in the end. We’ve got a brand new back bar, booth seating, outdoor seating and a really great PA system to make sure our music output is sounding great,” Tim continues. 

Aside from the focus on performance, the Shaking Hand has a compact food and beverage offering that Tim describes as “quality and straight to the point”. 

“We’ve got a fantastic range of whiskey, beer, wine, and cocktails including the best frozen margarita in town. Our food menu specialises in a range of Shakey’s Pizza that is made fresh and is the perfect food to fuel you for a night of dancing and music”

Mixed drinks largely take the form of pre-batched cocktails, which will doubtless aid rapid service in a fast-paced, high volume venue. 

“Our batched cocktails have been amazing for us and our customers. We are able to serve up delicious drinks quickly/consistently, even during busy nights.”

Ultimately for Tim, the Shaking Hand is less about a fancy drinks list, and more about creating a certain feel in the venue – what might be best described as ‘a vibe’. 

“Shakes is all about providing a fun and vibrant atmosphere where people can come and enjoy amazing live music, great drinks, and delicious pizza by the slice,” Tim says. 

“Specialising in live music, we cater to the rebels, the misfits, and anyone who wants to raise hell until 2am every weekend. No judgement, just good times, and great tunes. We have plans for both local and touring bands to grace our stage, as well as rock ‘n roll DJs spinning tunes ‘til late.”

The Shaking Hand is located in the basement at 7 Akuna St, Canberra ACT 2601.
The venue is open from 4pm-midnight Wednesdays and Thursdays, and until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights. 

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