People come from all over to experience Queenstown’s jaw-dropping scenery and host of adventurous activities. From traditional pubs with live music to quirky hole-in-the-wall establishments, this buzz is reflected in Queenstown’s nightlife as well.
Whether you’re looking for a classy establishment for date night or a lively spot to dance the night away, here’s our guide to the best bars in Queenstown.
Le Salon Rouge
Duke Street, Queenstown
Le Salon Rouge could quite possibly be Queenstown’s best-kept secret. Previously only available to those lucky enough to be staying at the swish Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa, this hot spot has recently been opened to the public to become QT's newest bar, taking its cues from the speakeasy supper clubs of the Prohibition Era. ‘Secretly’ located within the Sofitel, and open from Thursday to Monday, this bespoke bar is the perfect spot for a weekend date night with its rich red and velvet décor, soft candle lighting, and impeccable drinks offering. The cocktail list is as much about storytelling as it is about spirits, with each of the eight signature cocktails telling a tale of times gone – like the boujee gin concoction, the prospecting dream, that draws on Queenstown’s gold rush history and features ACTUAL gold dust! If you’re a gin connoisseur, cancel your plans for the following day, as there are 70 to try and more being added by the day. Build your own G&T (or should we say T’s) by selecting your tipple of choice, a tasty tonic… think coffee, rhubarb or grapefruit and top it off with a botanical. Soak up all that gin with grazing plates, charcuterie and snacks like mixed cheese arancini, tempura prawn bao and crumbed onion rings with Kiwi dip #yesplease. Apéro chic AKA happy hour starts at 5pm, á la vôtre!
Ballarat Street, Queenstown
If you’ve been to Queenstown, chances are you’ve dined at the ever-so-popular Mexican-inspired restaurant, Margo’s. Tucked beneath this iconic eatery, lies its new sophisticated sibling, Little Mez— Queenstown’s first dedicated Agaveria AKA home of agave-based spirits! Coined by the team as the ‘Mexican Liquor Merchants’ this underground speakeasy-eske bar has over 80 tequilas and mezcals directly imported from Mexico, some of which are the only ones in New Zealand. Sip your spirit of choice neat from a locally hand-made clay cup, or enjoy the expertly curated cocktail list with everything from your classic margarita to quirky mezcal-based creations. The drinks list doesn’t stop there, with top-shelf agave-based spirits, organic wines, Mexican beers and incredible mocktails also making a feature. If you can’t make up your mind, the passionate team of mixologists will introduce you to the world of Mexican liquor with the ‘Trust Little Mez’ option—sit back, relax and let the team create a unique flavour profile to suit your taste.
The Lodge Bar
Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown
The Lodge Bar by Rodd & Gunn is a sophisticated, stylish and ever-so-inviting spot to sit and mull over the adventures of the day gone by with a delicious glass of wine or bespoke cocktail in hand. With stunning oak floorboards, thick fur throws, and a large blazing fireplace—not to mention the location right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu—this spot couldn’t be any better to kick off a romantic date night or catch up with the crew. Now back to the important stuff, the wine list… thoughtfully curated by Master Sommelier, Cameron Douglas to suit all palates you’ll be sure to find a drop that suits you. And if you’re after a bite to eat, the wines have been expertly paired with Michelin-star chef, Matt Lambert’s menu (a serious must-try). Tuck in for a meal of house-made tortellini with sage and brown butter, confit pork belly or dine tapas-style with a fabulous cheese platter.
With the name Ferg anywhere in the title, you instantly know it’s going to be an absolute winner. From the legends behind the famous Ferg Burger, Mrs Ferg Gelateria and Ferg Bakery comes Ferg's Bar—a cosy little cocktail bar nestled right next to the rest of the Ferg family. If you’re looking for a next-level drink, teamed with a side of people-watching, this is the spot—with over 40 signature and classic cocktails available, not to mention a dedicated list of gin creations, mocktails, wines, beers and spirits! A couple of our favourite tasty tipples are the Bloody Sour made with Four Pillars shiraz gin or the ever-so-indulgent Cookies and Cream made with vanilla-infused vodka, butterscotch liquor, homemade cookie cream and Miss Ferg’s chocolate-covered cookie gelato (we're not drooling, you are). Team with some freshly shucked oysters, fried chicken or a charcuterie platter and you’ll never want to leave.
Steamer Wharf, Queenstown
Situated on Lake Wakatipu’s waterfront, in the famous Steamer Wharf, you’ll find Little Blackwood. A firm local favourite, the modern bar and eatery has some of the most incredible views in town. After an adventure-packed day, grab a drink on the heated outdoor deck or relax inside by the fireplace and order one of their creatively crafted cocktails. From the cool and refreshing Japanese Garden, made with sake, Pimms, lychee liqueur, fresh cucumber, mint and ginger beer to the Brown Beer made with black rum, barrel-aged cherry liqueur, black walnut, orange and a touch of salt. During the cooler months, sip on a mulled wine or warm up with a winter take on the classic tiki cocktail—the Blackbird is made with ancho chile anejo tequila, Mr. Black coffee liqueur, campari, fresh pineapple juice and lime—we’ll take 10! On the menu, you’ll find a selection of locally crafted artisan meat and cheese platters served Otago honeycomb, freshly picked grapes, kalamata olives, sundried tomato pesto and babaganoush. The pizza menu is equally delicious, our favourite is the Bianco with roast mushrooms, garlic confit and mascarpone cheese on an olive oil base. Yes please.
Atlas Beer Cafe
Steamer Wharf, Queenstown
Craft beer drinkers near and far, this one’s for you! Atlas Beer Cafe is Queenstown’s home of crafties and is an absolute favourite with locals and visitors alike. In the summer months this friendly and unpretentious bar plays host to the mountain bike mayhem, with plenty of space to ride on down from the bike parks and grab a refreshing hazy or two. In winter its location right on the lake is perfect for basking in the views over an aprés-ski beverage. Beer connoisseur or not, we’re confident you’ll find a boutique craft brew that tickles your fancy and teamed with tasty tapas and famous steaks, Atlas Beer Cafe is a darn cool spot for an afternoon or evening brewski.
Upstairs At The Bunker
Hidden away on Cow Lane, Upstairs at The Bunker is one of Queenstown’s longest-running bars (this year celebrating 25 years serving up good times) and you can see why—it’s a well-oiled machine. With delicious hand-shaken cocktails, an espresso martini never goes amiss, a HUGE wine list, crackling log fires, and plenty of cosy spaces both indoors and out this sophisticated bar turns into Queenstown’s biggest party come 11pm so if there’s a big night on the cards, this is where the wild things are. With house music playing all night long, enjoy good vibes almost until the birds start chirping.
Habana Boutique Rum Bar
Boasting a collection of over 70 rums, Habana Boutique Rum Bar is bringing a taste of Cuba to Queenstown. The small, funky bar is situated on Searle Lane, offering a sophisticated respite from the wilder party bars in town. Come here for great music and delicious drinks—in fact, Habana is home to the best mojitos in Queenstown. Their daiquiris are also a hit with locals as are their rum flights, essential in determining which variety will become your new fave. They’re more than happy to host rum-tasting masterclasses, perfect for a birthday party, hens or stag do. If you’re a rum drinker, Habana is a stylish hole-in-the-wall that you must visit in Queenstown.
Nest Bar & Kitchen
If you're after chilled vibes and stunning views (you’ll more likely than not recognise its balcony from the ‘Gram), our pick for a cosy aperitivo hour goes to Nest Bar & Kitchen. Settle yourself into a velvet lounge seat next to one of several fireplaces and peruse the menu for your poison of choice. Try the Reid & Reid Barrel Aged Gin with orange and cinnamon, boasting a subtle spiced oak flavour. If you’re after a show-stopper, promptly order a smoky old-fashioned starring 10YO Laphroaig whisky. Get your phone ready—the cocktail literally arrives smoking beneath a glass dome.
Step inside this low-lit, ambient bar and you’ll instantly feel as if you’re in a secret hideaway far from the hustle and bustle, despite Bardeaux being right in the heart of Queenstown’s bar precinct. Elegance is one word that screams to mind, with its huge open fireplace, great music and super knowledgeable and attentive service that never misses a beat. With an extensive wine list comprising an eclectic range of local pinots, a cellar of vintage wines and champagnes and a cocktail menu that makes you want to work your way right through it, Bardeaux is a slice of paradise for those who want intimate pre-dinner drinks, a tasty après ski tipple, or night out with friends (AKA it’s a slice of paradise for everyone).
Queenstown Ice Bar
Upper Village, Queenstown
For something a little out of the ordinary, you can’t go past Queenstown’s newest and biggest ice bar—a memorable experience to say the least. Queenstown Ice Bar is a Scandinavian-inspired cocktail lounge built from 25 tonnes of hand-carved, glass-like ice architecture brings with it an elevated take on the classic ice bar experience we all know and love. Cosy up in the striking lounge bar with the luxurious winter warmers provided (jackets, hats and boots) and enjoy an expertly curated cocktail or try out the famous ice shot luge for a bit of fun.
Marine Parade, Queenstown
Eichardt’s Bar has been a Queenstown institution since it opened in 1867. With a warm, inviting atmosphere, it’s an excellent spot to start your evening. The space is decidedly elegant with its comfortable sofas and a roaring fireplace, making it the ultimate winter destination. The only bar in Queenstown to serve Champagne Bollinger by the glass, there’s a certain sophistication that comes with securing a spot to marvel at the breathtaking views. Cocktails here are nothing short of amazing. We recommend the Lady Violette, which consists of gin infused with lavender, Liqueur de Violette, Cointreau, earl grey-infused syrup, lemon juice and egg white as well as the lychee and rose petal martini. The spiced espresso martini is also the perfect pick-me-up. Eichardt’s exudes style and warmth so put it on your must-visit list, stat.
Church Street, Queenstown
If you’re looking for something to do in Queenstown at night, look no further than Yonder. This all-hours establishment is buzzing from sunrise to sunset—its vibing atmosphere dials up a notch as the sun dials down. Start with dinner from the experimental kitchen, bursting with flavour the menu is inspired by the team’s travels around the globe—think bao buns, burgers and other tasty tidbits. With fabulous and quirky cocktails to match, an epic list of wines and a darn good line-up of beer you’ll want to linger over drinks and live music… we’re telling you now, it’s quite likely you’re going to end up cutting shapes into the wee hours of the morning.
The World Bar
Church Street, Queenstown
Home of the teapot, The World Bar is a popular spot for afternoon drinks, good honest food, craft beer and all kinds of quirky events. It’s a local favourite for a whole host of events, from film premieres to banging parties and interesting musical talent. The teapots and cleverly named cocktails are a must-try—our picks are the refreshing rhubarb custard, with vanilla vodka, rhubarb liqueur, apple juice and rhubarb bitters and the Hendricks Lamar with gin, cucumber, basil syrup and lemon! The indulgent and extensive food menu is equally appealing, try the mac and cheese balls and crusted cauliflower bites to start, but make sure you save room for the chicken and waffles or fish tacos… mmmm see you there.
Who doesn’t love a cool rooftop lounge bar? Especially in a magical place like Queenstown where the views stretch out as far as your eyes can see. The Sundeck is the perfect perch for an evening cocktail or maybe a magnum of Mumm Champagne if you’re feeling festive and flirty. With a covered balcony, perfectly positioned seating around toasty fire pits and live DJs playing into the night—head here for a delicious aprés-ski beverage and tapas and see where the night takes you. Tip: In the warmer months, this is one of the best spots around to watch the summer sun disappear into the night.
Ballarat Trading Company
Queenstown Mall, Central Queenstown
Queenstown’s original gastropub, stepping into The Ballarat Trading Company is like stepping back in time. Inspired by an 1850s trading emporium, the colourful space is certainly eclectic. Pile into a cosy booth, sit outside in the courtyard or along the Queenstown mall and prepare for a relaxed evening out. The simple menu is filled with traditional favourites like crispy calamari and butternut pumpkin soup, complemented by a selection of Central Otago's finest wines. Ballarat also caters for a wide range of events, from meetings to private functions and special occasions.
Soak up some of that good booze at Queenstown's Best Restaurants.
Image credit: The Bunker, Little Mez, Little Blackwood, The Bunker, Nest Bar & Kitchen, Queenstown Ice Bar, Yonder, The Sundeck.