Auckland may only have a little more than a million residents but the number and quality of cocktail bars will rival some of the best in other bigger cities around the world. During a recent visit to New Zealand, a night in Auckland was spent on a bar crawl with some local friends who took me out to some of the best cocktail spots!
First Stop: Racket Bar
Located in Britomart, a night-time destination area in Auckland, Racket Bar is tucked away down a dark alley. But once inside, you are greeted by a mixture of styles – old-school Cuban and industrialism. Offering a range of classic and custom cocktails, Racket Bar also has more than 60 rums, making this the finest rum collection in New Zealand.
Bartender Sam Knight started the night with a classic cocktail and a spin on a classic.
French 75 (Gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar)
Rum old fashioned (Flit de cans rum, Orange sugar and Angustura and Orange bitters) – mixed for 15 minutes until it fully dilutes
Second Stop: IKTO
Also located in the Britomart area, IKTO is located in a former loading dock, behind its sister restaurant Mexico. A loading dock it is! The bar sits in the well of the elevator shaft and the bartenders shake the cocktails as the elevator hovers above, locked on a higher level. Space is tight but it’s a fun little spot to stop and have a drink.
To stay in the Mexican theme, we enjoyed a fresh margarita, as well as fresh fish tacos (As a Californian, of course I had to make sure they were legit – and they were!)
Third Stop: 1885 Basement
1885 Britomart, a multi-level bar, is made up of a high-ceiling main bar, a Martini Bar, a mezzanine lounge area with velvet couches and a long covered veranda. But hidden downstairs is 1885 Basement, a member-only underground cocktail bar.
Zsa Zsa (Gin, Dubbonet and Orange zest)
Southside Variation (Gin, lime and bitters)
Fourth Stop: Mea Culpa
We left the Britomart area and went to Mea Culpa on busy Ponsonby Road. Mea Culpa is a tiny little bar with concrete walls and a long mirror running along one wall, across from the bar, making you think that the space is bigger than it really is. Offering a five page menu of cocktails (and wine), Mea Culpa is a classic cocktail bar. And, bartender Cam Timmins kept us entertained and happily imbibed for the remainder of the evening.
Corpse Reviver #2 (Gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and Absinthe)
Nameless Cocktail (muddled pineapple, Havana blanco, white curasao, lemon juice, house made grenadine, champagne float, spiced angostura bitters)
Stasis Sour (Chivas Regal 12 yr Whiskey, orange and grapefruit marmalade, Bitter Truth Pimento Dram, orange bitters, Cointreau, lemon, Tuatara Weiss Beer)
Claret Cocktail (Wyborowa Vodka, black plum jam, lemon, sugar, egg white, Chartreuse and Elderflower Liqueur)
Jack Apple (Calvados, fresh feijoa, cacao, grenadine, lime, Benedictine)
As the cocktial scene continues to explode in Auckland, this crawl was just scratching the surface. But, I plan to return to explore more bars, and of course revisit these bars!