Leave your ‘mainstream’ bars behind you and head on underground for some of Auckland’s finest hidden drinking establishments. That’s right—we’ve rounded up the best of this city’s alleyway, basement, attic and side street bars for all your covert drinking ops. Cause we’re nice. Here are Auckland's most hidden bars. Shhhhhh.
Pineapple on Parnell
This secret destination is one of the newest hidden bars on the scene. Tucked away behind a mysterious wooden door on Parnell Road, the only way you’d know you’ve found this elusive bar is by stumbling across a singular, pineapple doorknocker. And although this isn’t a “members only” club, guests will be made to feel like they’ve just arrived at an exclusive A-list lounge. This ‘80s-inspired cocktail lounge just oozes decadence. Dimly lit with plush leather sofas, velvet cushions and dark wooden furnishings, Pineapple on Parnell is the definition of sophistication. But it’s the cocktail list and choice of music that has us talking. And, if you happen to arrive on the right day, you might just find their house pianist throwing down some melodies.
Another newbie on the scene the super, sultry cocktail lounge, Caretaker. It’s where you need to be if a top quality beverage is what you’re after. You’ll find it hidden away down a dimly lit staircase in the ever-so-popular Britomart. This bar is described as a “New York style cocktail lounge, inspired by the golden era of bartending.” Pull up a stool at this trendy haunt and let the mixologists take care of you. Just tell them what tickles your fancy and let them do the rest. Custom made cocktails are their specialty. And, with plenty of dark corners to hide away in and even table service, this is the perfect place to impress that special someone.
This funky little bar is one of our favs! Hidden away out the back of K’ Rd Food Workshop, Love Bucket is the love child of Steve and Hayley Plowman, who also own the immensely popular Hallertau Brewery. So it’s no wonder that this bar is a charmer. Picture a mixture of lush cabin in the woods mixed with your rich Grandma’s living room from the 70’s and that’s the type of vibe this uber-cool bar gives off. Dimly lit, decked out with dark wooden furnishings and old-school speakers adorning the walls, everything about this bar just oozes style. But the thing we love the most are the delicious gin cocktails on tap! And, if gin isn’t your thing, then you’re in luck because lining the back bar is a vast array of top quality liquor. This bar is a must-visit. And don’t forget to try the bar nuts, they’re to die for!
No one will make you feel more at home in a bar than Simone and Gary at Flight 605. These two and their awesome staff are responsible for the welcoming vibes, which are guaranteed to make you hit up this Morningside gem for craft beer and chats on the reg.
Whammy! Bar and Wine Cellar
Located under St Kevin’s Arcade on K’ Road, Whammy! And Wine Cellar are where you can find an eclectic mix of people from all walks of life. Here they come together to enjoy and drink or two and share their mutual love of live music. It’s a great platform for small Kiwi bands to get their sound out. These two dimly lit bars have a grunge-chić, dive-bar feel. And, while Whammy! has an ever-changing roster of live gigs, it’s sister bar, Wine Cellar is slightly more intimate. But be careful! People have been known to get lost in the winding corridors that connect the two bars Getting lost sometimes ain’t such a bad thing!
Now let’s take it downtown to a little place called Fort Lane. That’s where you’ll find the gem that is The Jefferson. Hidden away down an old staircase, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a 1920’s speakeasy with a bit of a futuristic twist. Cobalt blue couches with gold accents and an industrial twist make this bar very aesthetically pleasing. But, the thing that makes this place so amazing is its extensive selection of whisky. With more than 500 different types to choose from you are spoilt for choice! And, if you get hungry, their sticky ribs are some of the best in town. This spot is for sure a winner if you’re trying to impress your friends.
Vulcan Lane is home to this alluring little speakeasy. Venture into the Queens Ferry building—one of Auckland’s oldest pubs, walk up the stairs and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a step back in time into a glamorous 1920’s gin parlour. Crimson velvet curtains, dark wooden tables and dimly lit lamps help to transport you out of the hustle and bustle of downtown Auckland and straight back in time where it was all about the finer things in life. If you’re a gin lover, then the Gin Room is the place for you. With an extensive gin-based cocktail list, there is something to tickle every taste bud.
One of our fave ‘secret’ spots, oozing friendly feels and a cosiness that’s hard to find in the CBD. Mo’s Bar will have you drinking classic cocktails (plus munching on complimentary corn chips) and wondering how the hell you didn’t discover it sooner.
We’ve saved the best for last with possibly Auckland’s best-kept-secret hidden bar. Head on down to Ponsonby Road, enter into either Harry or George and make your way to the back of the bars then locate the broom cupboard. Once you’ve found the cupboard, you’ll need to fumble around a little to find a dimply lit entrance and a set of stairs…. Enter into Jack. A solo bartender will greet you in this little speakeasy attic bar where the cocktail list changes every night and each drink is lovingly designed and named by the bartender. How intriguing… if there’s one bar on the list you’d want to check out and impress the socks off that special someone then this is it! But shhhhhh! Keep this one to yourself!
Image credit: Lauren Matilda Matthews