Classy cocktails (and wine)
- Foxtail Lounge – Foxglove on the waterfront by the East-by-West ferry. A cute little cocktail bar in the upstairs northern corner. Entry is via wardrobe from the main upstairs bar (which door will you choose to exit?). Sometimes hired out for functions.
- Dragonfly – Courtenay Place near Reading. A bamboo’d rear bar serving interesting cocktails with Asian flair, ingredients made in-house and a long list of tasty shots for those wanting something smaller.
- Boon Brothers Crumpet and Cocktails – Opera House foyer. Slightly hipster with youngsters who will create cocktails based on your preferences and a flavour tasting wheel (no cocktail menus). A treat any time of day really.
- Hanging Ditch – Leeds Street beside Goldings Dive Bar. Bottles hanging in a forest of bungy cords above the bar, and a small but interesting cocktail menu incorporating local products (like Fix and Fogg peanut butter).
- Black Sparrow – Speakeasy bar in the bottom of the Embassy Theatre, Kent Terrace. Cocktails themed to movies or Roald Dahl. Fabulous re-use of the old theatre tiles to create the speakeasy feel.
- Poquito -11 Tory Street. A teeny Spanish tapas and wine bar, with nicely presented cocktails and a total escape from the world outside.
- Hot Sauce – Korean Lounge Bar at the QT Hotel. Quality hawker street food-style bites and all manner of interesting cocktails and drinks.
- Forresters Lane – in Forresters Lane just off the corner of Tory and Courtenay. Owned by the Chow group, and delivering interesting cocktails and stylish bites in a contemporary bar setting.
- Coco at the Roxy – 5 Park Road, Miramar. Ray the master mixologist is extremely creative and has won the cocktail competition for Wellington on a Plate virtually every year. Totally worth the journey to Miramar.
These three are owned by the same group so you will notice some similarities:
- Hawthorn Lounge – Upstairs on Tory Street above Pan de Meurto. Echoes of a gentlemans club from days past, lovely dark décor with card tables, marshmellows in front of the fire, and superb staff.
- C G R Merchant and Co (Coffee, Gin and Rum) – Upstairs on Courtenay just past the Malthouse (a subtle entry). Think the Rum Diaries movie, and their own rum and gin infusions and rum salted caramel cookies (don’t skip the salted caramel rum either). Fantastic value cheeseboards.
- Cuckoo Cocktail Emporium – In the rear ground corner of Foxglove on the waterfront. Quirkier than Hawthorn and CGR, with retro op-shop style furniture and décor, but with the same welcoming appeal.
For specialised winebars:
- Noble Rot – in Swan Lane, mid Cuba. A massive range of quality wines from all over the world, served with tasty quality plates. Knowledgeable staff and access to high end wines by the glass courtesy of the Coravin system.
- Glass – Chews Lane. Owned by a lad who’s had years in hospitality, including a stint in France, Jonathan has an import licence to bring in his own French wines against a selection of interesting NZ ones. Small plates to complement the liquids.
- Amador – upstairs in The Press Hall complex at 80 Willis Street. Run by an ex-Motel cocktailier and one affiliated with Hanging Ditch, there’s substantial hospo experience here too. A very nice deck to enjoy your wine and bagel (daytime) or wine and platter (evening).
- The Ascot – rooftop at 55 Ghuznee Street. Natural wines and hotdogs (including carrot ‘notdogs’) in a very rustic rooftop setting. An entirely different type of wine experience.
And if you’re after a whisky:
- Hugos Whisky Lounge – Upstairs in The Establishment (best entry off Blair St). Huge whisky menu and knowledgeable staff in a relaxed gentleman’s club-style environment.