Our Kiwi neighbours always seem to be doing great things, often even better than us Aussies, and we’re not just talking about the All Blacks kicking our butts. We thought it was about time to take a look at New Zealand’s capital, the other ‘Harbour City’ across the Tasman, Wellington. Jump across the ditch and pay a visit to these venues for drinks, food, and friendly banter.
Hawthorn Lounge opened in Wellington in 2006, with owner Justin MacKenzie creating a bar that’s small, welcoming, intimate and private – with an air of yesteryear’s nostalgia.
Harking back to the elegant decadence of the 1920s speakeasys – think plush red walls, leather sofas, poker tables, an open slate fireplace merrily crackling away, banker’s lamps lining the bar top – Hawthorn Lounge lends a sense of occasion wrapped in lush comfort. Hidden away upstairs, slightly off the beaten track, a visit to Hawthorn Lounge will take you on a journey of world-class libations – from the original 1920s classics, through the inspired modern cocktails of today, to their individual bespoke concoctions.
Upstairs at 82 Tory Street,
Laundry is a one-of-a-kind juke joint, tucked away atop Cuba Street in an old up-cycled launderette. Since 2013 this locally owned and operated free-house has been pumping out award-winning burgers, tasty New Zealand craft beer, and late night speakeasy sounds. The burgers here are truly magnificent, and don’t just take our word for it, the venue took home the 2015 and 2016 Visa Wellington on a Plate burger and beer match competitions! The venue wears a few different hats, and is well known for its stomping parties that run until 3am every Friday and Saturday. For those of you looking for a unique experience on a night out in Wellington, Laundry is a must visit.
242 Cuba St,
Te Aro, Wellington 6011
Crumpet is a creative juxtaposition where you can find the rare and unusual but ultimately a cosy and comfortable cocktail bar. The back bar reflects that with the usual faces taking a back seat. Here, new or seasoned drinkers find something original to try. Having so many lesser-known spirits allows the knowledgeable staff to guide guests, allowing a ‘flavour wheel’ to spark the imagination for ideas rather than a menu. Taking inspiration from the guests’ selection, the crew here will whip you up something new or suggest a classic cocktail to match. Failing that, they are building an evolving rolodex of drinks from all over the world and drinking eras. The A-Z of drinks is built from classics with new additions being added monthly and a handful highlighted every month on the Crumpet Guide. Crumpet has a relaxed vibe, soft lighting, bizarre wall hangs and a wide range of world music with a tone of blues, rhythm and soul throughout. A solid Wellington hangout.
109 Manners St,
GARAGE PROJECT TAPROOM
The Garage Project Taproom was designed to be a real showcase of their beer range and is located across the street from their Aro Valley brewery. It features a world-class draft system, with 18 beers on tap, which can be poured at three different temperatures depending on the style. The system is driven by a ‘flux capacitor’, that allows the crew to precisely control the gas pressure, and mix of CO2 and Nitro on every line. Two hand pumps offer proper real ale, with steel casks kept in a fridge at cellar temperature.
The fit out is clean with subtle cues to Garage Project art adorning the walls. It’s a snug spot, but has a firm following in the local area and is a must visit spot for any visiting beer fan to Wellington.
91 Aro Street,
Aro Valley, Wellington 6021
Situated in colourful and cosy historic cottages, Havana is an award-winning cocktail bar and restaurant serving a diverse range of internationally inspired tapas and seasonal plates. The bartenders offer a seasonal cocktail menu around modern techniques and the discovery of new flavours. The drinks list comprises of classic and modern drinks with a specific focus on freshness, innovation and homemade products. This is coupled with a diverse assortment of local and international wines and beers. The bar supports local and international musicians and DJs three nights a week for your listening pleasure.
32a-34 Wigan St,
Te Aro, Wellington 6011
NICE. TAKEAWAY BY PARROTDOG
Nice. Takeaway is a quaint retail space nestled within Parrotdog’s production brewery in the heart of Lyall Bay, a stone’s throw from Wellington airport.
The main objective behind the design is to create an environment that feels almost ‘homelike’ – a comfortable atmosphere with a timeless design. Parrotdog did this by focusing on what they consider to be an ‘old mate’ aesthetic – something that fits with the brand’s personality, while focusing on elements you might’ve seen in a classic bottle shop in the 1970s and 80s.
Nice. Takeaway boasts 10 taps, offers complimentary tastings, an array of merchandise and artisan treats from neighbouring producers.
60-66 Kinsford Smith St,
Lyall Bay, Wellington 6022
Hanging Ditch was opened by two career bartenders who grew tired of Wellington’s limited number of quality cocktail venues since its hospitality heyday of the early-mid 2000s, feeling the city was really lacking an intimate pre and post dinner cocktail and wine focused bar. The name is in reference to co-owner, Andrew Gray’s UK roots, where The Hanging Ditch was a slang name for an old waterway in Manchester, UK dating back to the 1300s, and fits well with the hanging bottles and the north east England connection of this part of Wellington (Leeds Street, and nearby Manchester Apartments).
The design of the bar is a relaxed mix of Wellington’s industrial history and refined luxury. Located in what used to be Hannah’s Shoe Factory, exposed steel girders and reclaimed wood are punctuated with leather menus and armchairs.
The menu here is kept fresh and seasonal, along with a focus on cocktails and 20 New Zealand wines by the glass along with seven local craft beers on tap – often from within keg-rolling distance of the bar.
14 Leeds St,
Te Aro, Wellington 6011
BLACK DOG BREWERY
The award-winning Black Dog Brewery offers interesting alternatives to beers already on the market. This is the place where you can experience something special in a working brewery in the heart of Wellington. Where always being interesting and intrepid is the motto, Black Dog embraces independence and stays in tune with what the beer drinker wants. Head here when you’re looking for something a little different, with eight Black Dog brews on-tap, a range of craft beers in bottle and can from other Wellington craft breweries and take-away sales of both 1 and 2 litre glass bottles, you’ll find something to wet your whistle. While the current brewery is located at 19(A) Blair St, Black Dog is expanding to a new site at 216 Cuba St, a double storey site with a brewery and tasting room downstairs coupled with a bar and function area upstairs.
19 (A) Blair Street,
C.G.R. MERCHANT & CO
Step into C.G.R. Merchant & Co. where scarred wooden floors lie beneath your feet, scents of orange and spice are in the air, fans spin languidly above, with creepers and vines trailing from the plunder-laden ceiling.
Inspired by the coastal shipping routes of the Spice Trade, specialising in rum and gin infusions, C.G.R. Merchant & Co. will challenge your tastebuds, and ideas on flavour combinations, with their intriguing and imaginative range of bespoke hand crafted infusions. Gin with balsamic grilled fig, rum and chorizo, or raspberry and clove gin…the rule of thumb here is – if they can imagine it, you can drink it.
Tucked away upstairs on Courtenay Place, far from the maddening crowds, C.G.R. is somewhere to catch up, fall in love, or wind down after a long day.
Upstairs, 44 Courtenay Place,