The best bars in Auckland for groups
Getting together for a drink requires a good drinks list and a welcoming space that can fit both friends and family. Here are the best group-friendly bars in Auckland from the Metro Top 50 Bars 2018 list.
66-68 Tyler St, Britomart
Of course Hip Group’s flagship restaurant would feature a bar made of the provenance-driven group’s discarded oyster shells. Behind the shimmering mother-of-pearl altar is a thoughtful selection of Italian and New Zealand wines, local craft beer and all the components of classic Italian aperitivi. The cocktails are seasonal and special: we love the butterscotch, amaro and vanilla riff on an espresso Martini.
26 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
At this Metro Top 50 Restaurant it’s business at the front, party out the back. The Maidstone Lane-end Roji Bar specialises in Japanese whisky, sake (there are more than 20 premium varieties), non-boring wine and Kula Watcharawannee’s Peruvian-Japanese cocktails, served in classily thin imported glassware.
Bedford Soda & Liquor
Shop 10, Ponsonby Central, Cnr Richmond & Ponsonby Rds, Ponsonby
Since its inception, Auckland’s tribute to New York’s The Meatball Shop has boasted award-winning mixologists on its team — key when Insta-worthy cocktails with precisely balanced flavours are the main attraction. The demands of the popular Ponsonby (and now Takapuna) locations are met with crowd-pleasing meatballs, cocktails and non-alcoholic sodas and shakes.
The Beer Spot
54 Northcote Rd, Northcote
There are 40, count ’em, 40 rotating taps at this North Shore craft beer destination. If this sounds overwhelming, we recommend opting for a tasting paddle of five, then taking a rigger of your favourite brew home afterwards.
91 Federal St, central city
Few bars cater to groups quite like Bellota, with its generous pavement seating and intimate, small-tabled booths. An independent, exclusively Spanish wine list showcases little-known producers and includes an impressive selection of sherry. Head chef Ernest Pietx’s Barcelona-style tapas are excellent for sharing.
City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley St West, central city
With 200-plus bottled beers, 18 on tap and plenty of early afternoon sun, this is an ideal spot for day-drinking. It’d take about a year to get through all that’s on offer drinks-wise, and even then, the selection is ever-changing. Brothers now have a dedicated barrel-ageing room for their beer at their other location in Orakei.
The Chamberlain and Talulah
120 Quay St, Britomart
Buzzy Britomart bar Tyler St Garage has undergone a makeover and emerged with a split personality. If you’re in the mood for craft beer (there are 14 rotating taps), board games and live sport, The Chamberlain’s British-pub charm delivers. Meanwhile, upstairs, Talulah is a rowdy Pacific-Rim tiki bar, complete with the occasional coconut cocktail and a squint-and-it’s-tropical portside view.
Conch Kitchen & Bar
115A Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
The communal tables both out front and in the courtyard encourage groups to descend and friendly chat to break out between strangers. We love the dedication to New Zealand beer and wine here, the arepas, and the ever-present hand-pressed sugar-cane mojitos.
The Corner Store
25 Mt Eden Rd, Eden Terrace
We’re fans of the sunny back courtyard at Mt Eden’s Corner Store, with its classy wood panelling and cosy fireplace. The drinks list is on point, too. Choose from inventive cocktails, boutique whiskies and a thoughtful selection of local and international wines and craft beers.
Cnr Quay and Hobson Sts, Viaduct Harbour
Regularly pumping, even during the week, Dr Rudi’s is as popular with Viaduct office workers as it is with weekend revellers. Perhaps it’s the bar’s own beers — which after some delay are now being brewed on site — or maybe it’s the unrivalled view of the harbour from the deck or the free-to-play bowling lanes down the back. Whatever the cause, this place is a real good time.
Imperial House, 7 Fort Lane, central city
At the top of a spiral staircase on Fort Lane is an expansive rooftop courtyard and split-level bar housed inside a century-old theatre that was previously left untouched for 50 years. Now it’s designed to cater to — you guessed it — everybody, with multiple cosy nooks, a metres-long sofa, a courtyard, and a mezzanine that can be booked out for groups (that’s what we love it for most). Open until 2am at the weekend.
2 Mt Eden Rd, Eden Terrace
Set in the majestic old Grafton Library, Galbraith’s is Auckland’s answer to a proper English pub, minus the beer-soaked carpet and pokie machines. Go for an afternoon session of house-brewed real ale, guest craft beers and Sunday roast with all the trimmings.
1171 Coatesville-Riverhead Highway, Riverhead
If you need a reason to escape the city on weekends, look no further than Hallertau’s Riverhead brewpub. Go for the beer (be brave and try the sours), then stay for the excellent wood-fired pizzas, jalapeño poppers and live music in the outdoor biergarten. (Take a sober driver.)
7 Fort Lane, central city
In a dimly lit den beneath Imperial Lane, Auckland’s premier whisky bar offers a staggering 600-plus varieties from around the world. Book online for an intimate tasting, in which the knowledgeable staff will be happy to take you through different samples. We recommend letting them choose for you — just be sure to check the price tags before committing to a full pour. (Open past 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.)
5 Akiraho St, Mt Eden
On weekends, half of Auckland’s under-five population seem to be running wild at this neighbourhood brewpub and barbecue restaurant. If you can handle the chaos, it’s a great spot for evening beers in the sun or dinner before a game at Eden Park.
9 Durham St East, central city
On miserable winter afternoons, this convivial inner-city institution provides the perfect respite from the cold. We suggest ordering a glass of tempranillo and a plate of patatas bravas and settling into one of the cosy couches down the back.
City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley St West, city
Hurrah — a posh bar with a decent happy hour! In summer, Apérol spritzes are $10 between 4-7pm (Tuesday to Saturday) and the rosé is cold as. In winter, snuggle up in one of the comfy booths with a red wine and some chips with berbere and honey mustard.
Pocket Bar & Kitchen
592 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn
There’s a whiff of Lion Nathan to the drinks list here, but if you’re in the mood for, say, an easy-drinking rosé to sip on in a sunny courtyard, then Pocket is the perfect spot. We also enjoy the regular events, which include movie screenings, quizzes and even yoga.
1004 Leigh Rd, Matakana
Sometimes it takes a day trip to Matakana to feel removed from city life. After browsing the fancy weekend market, Sawmill Brewery, with its flights of beer, generous outdoor seating and kid-friendly vibes, makes a great stop before heading south again.
23B Westhaven Drive, Westhaven
For a bit of yo, ho, ho and a pint of Steinlager Classic, it has to be Swashies — Auckland’s only pirate-themed bar and restaurant — overlooking the flash boats moored in Westhaven Marina. You may even spot a stingray. But it’s not the naff décor or the shamelessly mainstream beer selection that makes this bar one of Auckland’s best. It’s the hot chips — only four bucks a pop.