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
After a visit from Chef Thomas Hishon to Mountford Estate during my stay in New Zealand, I decided that a visit to Clooney Restaurant in Auckland was not to be missed. Considered one of the best restaurants in Auckland, Clooney has been a Restaurant Finalist in the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards and the Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards for 5 years running.
Clooney is a partnership between restaurateur Tony Stewart and Chef Des Harris, one of New Zealand's most prolific chefs. Chef Thomas Hishon, who had cooked for us at Mountford Estate, joined Clooney as Sous Chef 1-1/2 years ago, after training in the UK and Canada and today at the age of 25 oversees a staff of 12.
A short ferry ride from Auckland is the island of Waiheke, an island of 30 growers and 535 planted acres. The second winery on the island, beginning in 1981-82, is Stonyridge. With 6 hectares of vineyard planted to the five grapes of Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec) and organically farmed, Stonyridge is known as a world-renowned Cabernet-blend winegrower, thanks in part to the signature Stonyridge Larose.