16 January 2012
the summer libation
We pay a visit to some of our favourite cocktail creatives to establish our drinks of the season.
The onset of the warmer months calls for a reassessment of our evening tipple. A drink to toast the festive season or one to commemorate the first weekend at the beach should be given much consideration. We pay a visit to some of our favourite cocktail creatives to establish our drinks
of the season. These are the cocktails that will transport you from dusk till dawn.
The Local. Sailor Mary – Golden Dawn
Not yet one year old and Golden Dawn already feels like an institution. The urban backyard with its casually strung carnival lights and friendly crowd of grungy locals have made Golden Dawn a reliable fixture on the Ponsonby Road bar circuit. Come Friday 6 p.m. its courtyard is filled with an eclectic mix of local creative types converging to share their week’s war stories of pitches and coups. While the outside bar serves only a selection of house pours, wine and beer, the cocktail offerings at the bar inside are superbly made and without too much fuss. Our pick? The delightfully pink Sailor Mary, a combination of spiced rum, raspberries, lemon, sugar, a free range egg white, garnished with mint. The perfect precursor to a long night ahead. Whilst the bar may feel somewhat temporary in its nature, the drinks on offer are more than worthy of a long stay. Look for the dark green side door, chances are you might even find a friendly denizen – it’s the essential late afternoon destination as we head into summer.
(134 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland)
The Perfect Starter. Rosita was a Smoker – Mea Culpa
The folks at Mea Culpa take the art of mixing a good drink very seriously. With a changing menu that reflects the season and a concentration on less common cocktail ingredients such as sherrys and ports, the bartenders don’t just pour the drinks. Creating their own essences and bitters in-house; they speak of their cocktail components a little like mad scientists. One look at the extensive cocktail list and, like us, you’ll probably find yourself unsure of where to begin. We recommend putting down the menu and leaving it up to the masters. On the occasion we visited, we sampled Rosita Was A Smoker, a pretty looking mix that is based on two classic tequila based cocktails – the Margarita and the Rosita. The Manuka cold smoked tequila was blended with agave nectar, rose liqueur and burlesque bitters. It left a honey sweet aftertaste; fast removing any of the preconceived notions we had of a tequila based cocktail. Mea Culpa is the perfect starter to an unplanned night out or a precursor to dinner plans. Every city deserves a bar where the bartenders care deeply about the craft of an excellent cocktail and we think we may just have found it.
(3/175 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland)
The After Work Escape. Little Jarhito Cocktail – Tyler Street Garage
For the downtown folk, Tyler Street Garage should be, if it isn’t already, swiftly appointed your official local. Towards the end of the working week the loyal patrons begin their descent from lunchtime, and we can see why. If its slick industrial interior and cool crowd aren’t enough to lure you down to take a load off, then their selection of tasty bar snacks may be the drawcard you need. A vast expanse of a bar, the pièce de résistance is the rooftop terrace bar; a small intimate space with its own bar that offers an uninterrupted view over the busy container wharf to the glistening harbour beyond. It’s the kind of place that, if you secure your position early enough, you could easily find yourself whiling away the better part of an afternoon. On the last occasion we visited, we got a head start on selecting our summer libation and found a top contender in their Little Jarhito cocktail. Think of it as the slightly less potent little brother to the Mojito. Light and refreshing, and safe enough to drink your way through lunch or an afternoon meeting without having to be escorted home. The Little Jarhito is muddled with lots of fresh mint and lime and served in a novel glass jar. Which makes you (or at least made us) feel a little more comfortable about ordering one pre-sundown.
(120 Quay Street, Auckland)
The Nightcap. The Cuban Cloud – 1885 Basement Bar
It might be late, but the night’s not over yet. May we suggest you might be ready to make a post midnight pilgrimage downtown to 1885’s Basement Bar. The perfect escape for a nightcap when you’re not quite ready to call it a night, Basement Bar serves a robust menu of classic cocktails, best enjoyed from the comfort of their oversized leather sofas. They say a nightcap should consist of more than a third of a glass of something dark, something more than just a ‘drink’, and one that takes a little more work than just a stiff pour. The Cuban Cloud is a tipple that is favoured by Basement’s after-dark crowd. Havana club rum, lemon juice, egg white, earl grey tea are whipped up and dusted off with icing sugar before the blowtorch comes out to deliver the finishing caramelising touch. It’s the perfect prelude to a night of equally sweet dreams.
(27 Galway Street, Britomart, Auckland)