Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city by a considerable margin, is full of top-class eating and drinking establishments. So, if you find yourself in need of a a bit of a bracer when it comes to a drink then follow our guide to the best cocktail bars in town.
Mea Culpa has been on the radar of all of Auckland’s cocktail aficionados for many years now, and slides smoothly into any list that is compiled on the city’s best cocktail haunts. Everything is handmade here, including the hand-pressed fruits and the garnishes that are purchased from local suppliers. This joint has been ticking along for a good while in a cut-throat industry and that tells you that they’re consistently amazing when it comes to mixing up a bit of an alcoholic restorative, and that their menu is always changing to accommodate the mercurial tastes of the consumer. This is probably your safest pick when it comes to wrapping yourself around the outside of an excellent snifter.
Think luxurious velvet, dark and gleaming glassware under dim, stylish lighting, and you’ll get a mental picture of the sanctuary-like space of The Gin Room. To accompany this tres chic interior decor is an extensive cocktail menu. It’s not limited to gin, but we recommend going for something gin-based to start off. We say to start off because the chances are you’ll be so taken with your opening beverage that you’ll want to keep wading along and trying as much as you’re able to stomach.
Caretaker is one of those cocktail lounges that is very much a “lounge” rather than just a “bar”. It is also the sort of establishment in which there are no bartenders, only mixologists. The aim here is to conjure the vibe of old New York, during the cocktail golden age. Walking down the steps, off the street and down into the bowels of this bar, it certainly feels like you’re heading back into a bygone era. Hidden away down here, you can leave your worries at the door. Sure, you pay for the quality received, but that’s life isn’t it?
The girls and boys at Bedford Soda & Liquor, and the cocktails that they produce, have become the bar that every other cocktail bar in Auckland are now measured against. They take their inspiration from the American beverage scene, and have such O.T.T cocktails the Americans would be proud to call their own. An example of this is the ridiculously decadent, alcoholic house caramel shake they whip up. It’s constructed with salted caramel, Maltesers, Johnnie Walker Black whiskey, and finished off with a sprinkling crushed Maltesers. Try going for a jog after one of those.
This is a cocktail bar that clearly recognises the needs of its customers, as it is only open from Wednesday to Saturday. Clearly, it knows that come Wednesday – the infamous hump day – there are a few people in the city that require a bit of bolstering in the form of delicious alcoholic soul nourishment. It’s almost medicinal. Combine the sublime cocktails with the plush leather seating and wooden 80’s decor, and this is a joint that very much soothes and soothes again.
Ponsonby is perhaps the hub of all things quirky and cool in Auckland, and there’s a plethora of unique cocktail bars in the area. If you want a little ray of Vegas to shine down into your life for an evening, then your one and only stop should be Win-Win Bar. Here you can explore a myriad of alcoholic delights, including the very sexy and seductive sounding Lemon Mirage. The sky is the limit here, as the bartenders have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things boozy and drinkable. If you somehow have something up your sleeve that they haven’t heard of before or have made up, then they’ll usually be happy to whip it up for you.
This bar is a cocktail of cool in itself. Who doesn’t love that slightly tacky and exotic vibe that springs to mind when you think of a Hawaiian bar, with its bright neon lights, loud music, louder shirts and over-the-top cocktails? You can even take a class in how to make your very own tiki taste-sensations, with a bartender teaching you how to concoct four of Talulah’s favourite cocktails. If you want to make the most of your craving for a pina colada, then drop in on a Tuesday or Thursday between 5pm and 7pm to catch happy hour.
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