Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Motel

Motel is pretty famous. Apart from being the home of Gunpowder Rum, denying elfin princess Liv Tyler entry and having one of the most impressive back bars of any bar, anywhere, Motel is the only place 42 Below vodka Professor Jacob Briars has ever been fired from mutually agreed with management that it is time to move on.

I pressed him for details, but he evaded my inquisition with a deft and ruthless efficiency. In the absence of fact, I’ll just have to make something up. This is the small chance I had imbibed to much to remember his tale, but that’s not how I recall things.

Knowing Jacob as a man of principle, I suspect he went under duress, fighting for the rights of the disestablished proletariat. For those of you unburdened by a comprehensive legal and political indoctrination like the one you would find, at say, Victoria University atop Wellington’s ivory hills, I’ve included the following diagram to assist you.

Despite his forebears land ownership in the lilting valleys near the Orinoco Flow, Jacob maintains a fanatical belief in a governments ability to perpetuate bureaucracy, thereby creating enough jobs to employ everyone for a period of approximately six days before the collapse of the economy and the reversion to subsistence farming.

It was in this vein then , that Jacob went into bat for poor Roger ‘Tom’ Thumb, nightsoilman, cabin boy and erstwhile dishbrush at Motel. Seeing the poor lad ruled, fooled and shot at, without a scrap to eat, Jacob stepped in with an ultimatum – “Conditions improve, or I’m out of here”

The downside of this tale is all Roger’s, I’m afraid. Doomed to a life amongst the Lumpen-proletariat, he was not heard from again. Jacob however stayed true to his working class principles, flogging pricey grain spirit, flavoured with an old French perfumers technique and contributing an admirable 46 tonnes of carbon to the Earth’s atmosphere, on a weekly basis. It is surely true what they say, the way to fight the system is from inside it.

Segue over, Motel is one of Wellington’s finest bars, and Ben Simpson, one of its finest tenders. Seriously a must visit to see the experiments underway (3yr old pear infused vodka, a highlight), to drink the history of a place, and perhaps a few Gunpowder draughts as well.

A must visit while you’re in town.

Level 1/4th Forresters Lane, Te Aro 6011, New Zealand‎ – (04) 384 9084‎

On Google Maps here.

Bar, New Zealand, Restaurant

On Tour: Logan Brown

Ok, so Logan Brown is really a more of a restaurant than a bar, but I have a connection here that drew me back like a moth to a flame.

Logan Brown is the first place I can remember making the jump from from mixed drinks and the occasional shaker/shooter into the esteemed and wonderful world of the cocktail proper. This transition was not heralded by anything as lofty as a desire to become (more) stylish, cultured or storied. I was, like many before me, led to the shrine of the fancy drink by the wiles of a hot female bartender. I forget how many drinks I purchased, or hours I spent, but obviously in the end it was completely time well spent. Back in Wellington for the first time in years, I simply had to make time for a visit.

Cuba St is a revelation to all who love good food and drink, a colorful stroll up the mall and one block more will deposit you on the corner of Vivian and Cuba, looking across the intersection at the old time bank that houses Logan Brown.

Enter, take a stool at the bar and ask for a free table for lunch. Stick to the classics; well made G&T’s, hand shaken daiquiris, a Negroni or two. The wine list is also fantastic.

I couldn’t finish without mention of the food. Chef’s Steve and Al love the access to ingredients that New Zealand affords, and the menu reflects that. Game, Kai Moana (The bounty of the Sea) and the best vegetables available dress the plates.  You must try Paua Ravioli, New Zealand’s native abalone, encased in perfect pasta pockets, swimming in a lime beurre blanc. I think it’s worth flying around the world for.

All round a great place for fine food, cold drinks and engaging company. Just like this lovely bunch at the bar really.
192 Cuba Street, Wellington 6141, New Zealand‎ – (04) 801 5114‎

On Google maps here, and online here as well.

Event, New Zealand

The Kiwis bash one out

The New Zealand team notched up a challenge win in Sunshine Bay on Lake Wakatipu yesterday, with their special it’s 42bro, served up in a sawn off 420 water bottle.

The challenge took all of 8 minutes for each team, with a random box of ingredients being provided and teams getting bonus points for using more ingredients but still producing a balanced drink.

It’s 42 bro

42BELOW Vodka
Jose Cuervo tradicional
Fresh apricot
‘Rocket’ sauce
Vanilla sugar
Chestnut syrup
English Breakfast tea syrup
Peychaud’s Bitters

Muddle Rocket sauce and apricots,  add all ingredients, shake and strain. Garnish with chopped,  fresh papaya sprinkled with vanilla sugar and grapefruit zest.

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Mea Culpa

Tucked beside Snatch on Ponsonby Rd, Mea Culpa is the sort of bar I wish I had downstairs from my house. Tucked away just a few doors down from the very beery but popular Chapel and Crib metropubs on Ponsonby Rd, Mea Culpa is a world class gem of a cocktail bar.

Five coffe coloured pages hold the cocktail and wine list, chock full of boozey goodness. Any venue that lists the Corpse Reviver #2 gets a high score in my book, and the addition of La Floridita #4, a selection of tribute drinks from around the world and across the centuries, plus a number of tasty well crafted originals put this place over the top. This is a place where drinks are truly crafted, served in a handpicked glass and presented with nothing but love.

A good bar experience rests on the crew your hanging out with and all signs were pointing to yes on Saturday night. A Professor of Vodka, the father of Power Dub, a seasoned water and wine exporter, my gorgeous girlfriend, a bloke in a super cool F<3NK t-shirt and a currently unemployed ex-TGIF bartender.

Outside seating is at a premium, but the carpet on the pavement makes it feel like it should be. I ordered the Consilieri, an absolutely delightful mix of Makers Mark, Almandine (that’s Amaretto to you and me) a spritz of Angostura (sorry UK) shaken well with the white of an egg to achieve velvety heaven. Happily the drink was originally made (and the one i drank) by none other than my tablemate and companion, Jacob Briars, during his previous incarnation as the bartender at Motel in Wellington. I also snuck a sip of the Miyagi Mule my girlfriend had ordered, a refreshing mix of vodka, cucumber and a pleasing hint of wasabi.

If you’re in Auckland, this has to be one of the stops you make while you’re in town.

3/175 Ponsonby Road
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