Shaken, not stirred: our guide to getting cocktails
Many of Wellington's best cocktail bars are hidden down side streets or tucked away up unmarked flights of stairs. Half the fun is finding them. Here's a shortcut
1/55 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Go for old-fashioned cocktails in a speakeasy style bar above Cuba Street.
Night Flower takes old-fashioned cocktails and reworks them with a botanical flair; possets, syllabubs, Rumfustians, fizzes, fixes and flips; if you don’t know what we’re talking about, you will soon. Tell the Night Flower team what flavours you’re into and they'll make you a cocktail to match (or challenge) your taste.
Night Flower make their own tonic water, a subtly perfumed and delicately flavoured concoction that elevates their G&Ts to whole new levels of deliciousness. With a large deck overlooking the heart of Cuba Street, Night Flower is the perfect spot for a drink while you watch the bohemian happenings, below.
14 Leeds Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Tucked away in a cosy corner of Hannahs Laneway, Hanging Ditch is a cocktail bar where the range of liquor is, quite literally, off the hook.
Their bottles of booze are suspended from the ceiling, dangling overhead on bungee cords which the bartenders pull down on to pour your bevvy – to dazzling effect.
Spectacle aside, Hanging Ditch are serious about creating delicious cocktails and use custom flavour atomisers to flavour your drink, to cut down on wasting herbs and garnishes and to add real oomph to their drinks. As well as cocktails, there’s a great selection of local beer and wine. Hanging Ditch is the ideal cosy spot for starting or ending your night out.
82 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington
With a 1920s speakeasy or gentlemen's lounge vibe, Hawthorn Lounge is a hidden gem you need to seek out.
Head through the unmarked doorway, go up the stairs and you'll find a swanky spot where the bartenders really know their cocktails. Sit at the bar as their nattily-attired staff entertain you with a potted history lesson on your favourite cocktail or nab a leather couch by the open fire and relax as your own bespoke drink is concocted and brought over to you.
109 Manners Street, Te Aro, Wellington
What's cosier than a crumpet with butter? A cocktail bar called Crumpet that serves crumpets with butter (and cocktails, of course). Snuggled inside the historic Opera House on Manners Street, Crumpet is perfectly located for a pre- or post-show drink and a great spot for people watching.
With a somewhat eccentric décor of mismatched furniture and table-cloth covered tables with candles, Crumpet will absolutely charm you. Consult with Crumpet's staff to find a cocktail based on your preferred flavour profile, your mood or the weather, or take a flick through their rolodex of cocktails to find something that tickles your fancy.
C.G.R. Merchant & Co
44 Courtenay Place, Te Aro, Wellington
Climb the flight of stairs from Courtenay Place to C.G.R. Merchant & Co and you’ll immediately be transported to an exotic world.
There’s a scent of spice in the air, lush green vines grow wildly up the walls and fans spin languidly above. C.G.R. (coffee, gin and rum), brought to you by Jonny McKenzie of the award-winning Hawthorn Lounge, specialises in making intriguing infused gins and rum using a variety of herbs and spices – their salted caramel rum is legendary. Order from the menu or let the bartenders create a custom-made cocktail, just for you.
Level 1, Cable Car Lane, Lambton Quay, Wellington
Impress your workmates with a drink or two perched above Lambton Quay’s Concrete Bar. Wander down Cable Car Lane and you’ll discover the entrance to this hidden bar. Concrete Bar serves up unique cocktails like Pinot Noir cocktail Blind Pig, Irish Whiskey mix North Side Sipper or choose from their $10 cocktail menu.
On a sunny day, you’ll get to soak up the sun on their front deck. Pair this with a few small plates of food; calamari, flat breads, honey popcorn prawns you’re on your way to an ultimate summer experience.
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