Auckland practically overwhelms its visitors with choice as far as buzzing bars and restaurants go. But what about the secret hidden gems that only locals know about? Come take a look at the best places to unwind with a good drink or two while getting away from the hustle and bustle of New Zealand’s largest city.
Tucked within the city centre’s inconspicuous Fort Lane is a whisky bar with a luxurious speakeasy feel. The Jefferson boasts more than 600 whisky varieties on its shelves and even offers personalised tastings for groups looking for a classy night out. If you’re staying in Auckland for a little while, The Jefferson also hosts monthly Social Club tasting sessions on the last Wednesday of every month.
Caretaker is a New York-style cocktail lounge nestled among some of the most popular bars and eateries around Auckland’s bustling Britomart precinct. This smooth Roukai Lane joint could easily be missed if you’re not actively looking for it; but as soon as you’ve ventured past its entry doors and headed downstairs into the narrow storeroom-like entrance, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a whole new era. True to speakeasy tradition, there aren’t any permanent menus available and the bar’s drink selections change on a daily basis.
At the heart of Ponsonby Road you’ll find a group of three adjoining bars collectively known as The Three Brothers. Out of these Harry and George tend to steal the spotlight, while little brother Jack has gained notoriety for being one of those secret places that’s hiding in plain view. Jack is as secret as you’ll get: word-of-mouth is what sparked an interest in this intimate cocktail bar, which doesn’t have its own web page or any kind of social media presence. A chic ambiance and 180-degree views of the city skyline add to the venue’s cool factor.
Walk down to Vulcan Lane, enter the Queens Ferry Hotel building and climb up the crimson staircase to find yourself in a sophisticated bar that’s oozing with a classic 1920s charm. The Gin Room’s cocktail list is what attracts the city-savvy crowds to this secret spot – with gin being the obvious ingredient of choice in their freshly-made concoctions. The snazzy vintage decor is also worth observing while you’re sampling The Gin Room’s decently priced drink offerings.
The Wine Cellar is a dimly lit basement bar known for its indie vibes and elegantly assembled wine list. This hidden haunt is a bit of an institution in Auckland’s live music scene: the St Kevin’s Arcade venue attracts an eclectic assortment of regular and visiting performers, ranging from renowned New Zealand musical acts to local and international artists of all calibres and genres. If you’re not in the mood for vino, the bar is also notable for its solid selection of beers, ciders and ales.
Mo’s is an unassuming corner bar located on the lower west end of downtown Auckland. This little venue has been a local fixture since 1995, and is a favourite among city slickers popping by for some after-work drinks as well as regular patrons who might drop in during their late-night bar crawls. Mo’s bartenders tend to focus on the timeless classics – think cocktails, beers, mulled wines and even a cigar or two to accompany the drops you’re about to savour.