Caretaker — the cocktail bar we didn’t know we had been waiting for

The sultry new cocktail lounge tempting us every day of the week.

Tucked quietly off Britomart’s main square, down a dimly lit staircase in an underground den filled with the dulcet tones of Etta James and Sam Cooke, Caretaker is the cocktail bar we didn’t know we had been waiting for. Manned by Heather Garland and Alastair Walker (who name New York bartending legend Michael Madrusan as teacher and mentor), the moody haunt is taking us back to the golden era of bartending, with drinks made the way they used to be.

A bespoke adventure, though there is a menu, we thoroughly recommend tossing it aside and instead leaning on the expertise of those behind the bar. After sharing the flavours and liquors you like, the alcohol aficionados will draw on the classics and experience to conjure up something specific to your tastes. Using the example of a Mojito, Walker showed us just how this superpower worked, transforming the beachside brew into something quite different with the aromatic addition of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters. Bringing a new depth to the drink we hadn’t expected, the team have the incredible ability of elevating a classic with just a simple tweak. Bold in their ambition, we admit our eyebrows were raised as Walker then told us he was going to take on the über classic Old Fashioned, but upon first sip of the pale amber libation that he whipped up with two whiskeys and a dash of Absinthe, well, let’s just say our cynicism got a dressing down that day.

With ice that has been hand-carved and scrutinised before selection, fresh-pressed juices and recipes that hark back to the 1800s, at Caretaker it’s undoubtedly the little touches that make the big differences. But don’t let the meticulous precision fool you, there are raucous and debaucherous times to be had here. With plenty of dark corners, discreet table service, red light illuminated bathrooms and some of the finest liquor we’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling, it seems Caretaker is simultaneously the place to be seen and the place to escape.

Opening hours:
5pm-3am, 7 days

Caretaker

Downstairs
38 Roukai Lane
Britomart

www.caretaker.net.nz

Bon Vivant


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