2020 has certainly been a strange year, but we're pleased to report that in spite of it all, a number of new drinking spots have come to the fore here in Auckland, with plenty of goodies amongst them.
Whether you're looking for somewhere crankin' to take the crew, or a more intimate spot to take that hot date, we've got a few suggestions for ya—and they're right here on our list of best new bars for 2020.
With a name like Ghost Donkey, this one was always going to get our attention. Winging its way to us from the USA (where it's won a number of awards including Imbibe’s 2020 Cocktail Bar of the Year), this vibrant venue is all about the good times and good vibes, slinging more than 35 different types of mezcal and tequila served with a generous side of Mexican hospitality. Soak up all that alcohol with a bit of South American-inspired grub—perhaps one of their unconventional nacho dishes—then head straight home (or not!) for a siesta.
Rosanna's Garden Bar
Behold Rosanna's Garden Bar—Kingsland's cool new Bali-inspired drinking spot. Hidden down a short driveway just off the main shopping strip, this is definitely one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it situations but rest assured, you'll know you're in the right place when you see the bright pink flamingo at the entrance. The drawcard here is definitely the undercover courtyard, decked out with fairy lights and enough greenery to rival a legit jungle. Pull up a pew and sip on lush, fruit-flavoured creations like their signature drink—Just Call Me Rosanna (a kind of pornstar martini made from 42 Below Vanilla Vodka, passionfruit liqueur, lime juice, passionfruit pulp, egg white and a shot of Prosecco), paired with incredible cheese platters, tasty nibbles and vibrant Bali bowls. If you're looking for an urban escape, this is it.
Captain's Bar | Park Hyatt Auckland
If you thought this one was all yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, think again. Because while Captain's Bar DOES have an impressive collection of 60-odd rums, hailing from the Caribbean and beyond, that's where the captain stereotypes end. Whether you decide to cozy up beside the roaring fireplace with your fave cocktail, or indulge in one on the stunning outdoor terrace (have you seen those views?), this is certainly one fine spot to sink a drink. Add to that a moreish tapas-style menu prepared by Argentinian chef Leo Minelli, and you'll be having one hull of a time (sorry, not sorry)...
Listen up Listers, because Liquorette is one seriously cool drinking destination. Drawing inspiration from the bodegas, superettes and liquor stores of 1970s America (where it also has a venue), this stylish spot specialises in 'Grammable, one-of-a-kind cocktails that don't take themselves too seriously. The Cha-Chunker, for example, literally turns your drink (at least, part of it) on its head—order one for yourself to see what all the fuss is about. Should you wish to pair your cocktail with something solid, there's also a small food menu—of which the pizza (made from hand-tossed dough and baked in an open-fire oven) is a real crowdpleaser. Oh, and did we mention that you can also get your cocktails to take away?
Saxon + Parole
Yes, yes, we know this isn't a bar per se (rather, a bar INSIDE a restaurant), but if you've ever visited Saxon + Parole, you'll know exactly why we had to include it. Not only will you get to sit at one of the swishest bars we've seen in Auckland, with spectacular views of the water, you'll also have access to the full (and, might we add, incredible) food menu—a bit of a rarity in New Zealand but something that's apparently quite the norm in New York, where Saxon + Parole is from. However it's the drinks that you really want to know about, and let us tell you, there's a lot to love. From tipples you'll find at bars across the Big Apple (the multi-coloured New York Sour is our fave) and their very own brand of Parole whiskey, through to an exclusive cocktail membership programme (where you'll get freshly-batched cocktails each and every month, served from a bottle with your name on it that's kept onsite in their Cocktail Cabinet of Curiosities), this one well and truly raises the erm, bar for drinking spots in Auckland.
Rooftop | QT Auckland
If you’re looking to elevate your next day or night out in the City of Sails, look no further than the stunning Rooftop at QT Auckland. Perched six storeys above the Viaduct, this expansive new space will have you living out your boujee dreams in style. Order up some mezze snacks from the onsite restaurant which offers tastes from Esther’s Mediterranean-inspired menu (meatballs and mezze plates, to name but a few). With espresso martinis and a guaranteed-delicious rotating guest cocktail on tap you may not even need to see the drinks menu, but if you do, you’ll find it loaded with the finest libations available in the city (think pretty pink Pisco Shishos, or their signature QT Martini). Wine fans need not worry with an extensive wine list and if you’re laying off the booze the Grove is highly recommended. One thing’s for sure, if you’re looking for a new place to chill in the Viaduct, you need to head to the roof.
Reign & Pour
And finally, Commercial Bay gets yet another nod from us—this time in the form of Reign & Pour. Bought to us by Matt Nicholls (of Bedford Soda & Liquor fame), there's something about this one that always makes us want to dive right in (kinda appropriate, given that it describes itself as a 'seaside pouring house'). Expect only the best beer, wine and spirits, served in a mod and welcoming setting, complete with some seriously good grub and DJs regularly on the decks to keep the good vibes flowing.
Need some food to soak up all that good booze? Check out Auckland's best new restaurants of 2020.
Image credit: Ghost Donkey, Rosanna's Garden Bar by Wono Kim, Captain's Bar, Liquorette, Saxon + Parole by Supernormal, Rooftop At QT by Armelle Frimpong, Reign & Pour