New Zealanders like nothing more than a killer drink and a banging venue to drink it in, which means you’re pretty much spoilt for choice when it comes to finding swanky digs to knock back a few medicinals. But you wanna experience the dizzying heights of Kiwi hospitality right? Behold, the Top 5 Bars list – cheers!
Stylish, classy and oh-so-refined (essentially the opposite of the hotel heiress bearing its name) Bellini’s killer views of Auckland Harbour and contemporary minimalist glamour converge to create one of the city’s finest establishments. But it’s not all floor to ceiling windows and Yoko Ono aesthetics – there’s also some serious mixology going on here. Tackle one of their seasonal signature drinks like The Red Headed German or Passion On Fire (all the right parts will warm up!), or take in a classic with a twist like the Bellini Zombie. If you’ve got money to burn, then the Maestros Selection (Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros combined with White Crème de Cacao) at $50 a pop is well worth splashing out for. Looking for something to nibble on? The crew behind the Hilton’s White restaurant are on hand to hook you up with what they like to call “plates worthy of a status update”, including the likes of Wagyu beef ribs on the bone (!) or, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, the apricot jalousie, stuffed with almond frangipane and dizzled with vanilla sauce.
The Hilton Princes Wharf 147 Quay Street
7 days from 3pm
+64 9 978 2025
This Queenstown institution is an intimate affair (think buttery leather armchairs, low ceiling and lighting, and shelves of amber-filled glittering bottles) with an enormous, roaring open fire crackling away in a statement Central Otago schist-rock fireplace, and an even larger selection of Pinot Noir (including an extensive local collection). Cocooned in comfort and redolent of old world charm, Bardeaux is a haven for those looking to escape the exuberance of the Q’town’s wild party scene, and is the perfect venue for a fireside tipple après-ski (or a drink out on the patio in the warmer months). If you’re not a fan of the Pinot Noir (seriously, this is literally flavour country!) then a voluminous cocktail list and well-stocked cellar of vintage wines and champers will keep you content once you’ve narrowed down your search. What’s more, the 4am close time means you’re able to take your time and drink in the moment.
Eureka Arcade, 11 The Mall
7 days from 4pm
+64 3 442 8284
A swanky throwback to 1940’s New York, this funky hotspot rocks a chilled gentleman’s club vibe where dapper, waistcoated booze alchemists dispense old school charm and dangerously delicious cocktails to Wellingtonians in the know. Tucked away in an upstairs room beside a gym on Tory Street, the Hawthorn Lounge is all heavy wooden bar, huge leather Chesterfields, heavy red curtains and seriously top shelf booze set to a soundtrack of big band music. Sack out in one of the Chesterfields by the crackling open fire and soak in the serenity, or get your prohibition on with a night of poker around a green baize table. Either way you’re in for a hell of an experience!
82 Tory Street, Wellington
Tues – Fri from 6pm, Sat from 7pm
+64 4 890 3724
The Dirty Land
The Dirty Land’s interior is awash with heavy red curtains, exposed brick walls, tactile wallpaper and moody lighting, care of guttering candles and some seriously covetable fixtures hanging under a gnarly, pressed ceiling. It’s like walking on the set of a David Lynch movie, only better – because you’re there, and perusing a swanky cocktail list that rounds out an impressive and imaginative drinks menu. It goes without saying the drinks are killer; those with a taste for the bittersweet should tap the twist-on-a-classic that is the TDL Negroni, while the Blood Passion’s lacing of Belvedere vodka with passionfruit and blood orange makes for some primo drinking. Feeling adventurous? Check out the Guest Cocktail, a weekly offering from the friendly, black-clad (natch) alchemists rocking the bar, and then when you’re peckish check out the premium bar snack menu care of the adjoining Mexicano’s, one of Christchurch’s most popular restaurants.
131 Victoria Street, Christchurch
7 days from 4pm
+64 3 365 5340
Spacious, high-end and world class – Auckland’s spectacular, multi-level/bar 1885 precinct (seriously, this scorching address is bigger than any bar and has got too much goin’ on to be considered a club) is all things to all people. The place to see and be seen, Britomart’s sophisticated electric heart starts the night as classy cocktail bar and seamlessly segues into pumping nightclub as the night progresses. Out-of-this-world cocktails in the grand main bar sit alongside a cozy, retro-fitted mezzanine and house-distilled spirits in the private Basement bar where live jazz reigns supreme. The perfect place to start your night, get into the mood, and kick on into the small hours stomping up a storm. Make sure you check out the Britomart nightlife from the verandah out front.
27 Galway Street, Britomart, Auckland
Wed – Sat from 5pm
+64 9 551 3100