WellingtonEat & Drink
Two people sitting up at the bar at Ascot, catching up for a drink whilst being served by a bartender.
  • Location

    55 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington

  • Website


On Ghuznee Street behind an unassuming door lies an industrial-looking staircase. Take the stairs up two flights, and you’ll find yourself in Ascot. This trendy watering hole has been providing Wellington with a chilled atmosphere for evening drinks since 2018.

The bar has a quality drinks list, focusing on a short list of organic and natural wines on tap. There are bar snacks like crisps to nibble on, and for the hungry, hot dogs. While wine and hot dogs aren’t a traditional combination, at Ascot they pair perfectly. They’re delicious, and a little bit different. For vegetarians, the meat replacement is an expertly seasoned carrot. It all sounds bizarre, but everything works a treat.

As for the music, owner Cosmo Hawke didn’t want anything streamed. The bar’s soundtrack comes from a turntable and LPs overseen by bar staff. The collection continues to grow as regulars and staff add their own choices. This makes for a wide-ranging selection that reflects the people who like to visit.

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With huge old metal loft windows on two sides and a vaulted ceiling, Ascot has a New York sensibility. The sense of permanence is a clever ruse — Cosmo designed the space from nothing. “The floor was the building’s old tin roof. When it was earthquake strengthened, they poured a concrete roof and I built the bar on top of that.” Cosmo built the windows to allow room for an L-shaped courtyard that wraps around the outside. The original parapets of the building remain and provide the courtyard with high walls to keep the wind at bay.

The old-world charm is down to Cosmo’s magpie mentality and ability to find interesting bits and pieces to recycle. Above the bar is an old wooden sign ‘Ascot’. Cosmo found that at an old cinema in Newtown. The Ascot used to be on the corner of Riddiford and Constable Streets and was in business from 1916 to 1976. Cosmos’s grandparents used to run the popcorn and confectionary stand in the cinema in the 1950s. So when the sign came up for sale he pounced, and landed on the bar’s name at the same time.