Suite Bar, Hobson Street, AKL

The ironically named Suite bar is a haven from the traffic and general hustle and bustle of downtown Auckland (or is the name simply “coincidental”? Again, Alanis Morissette has well and truly destroyed any hope of me understanding the true meaning of the word “irony”). As you amble through the well-dressed doors and down the stairs you almost expect to step into a modern-day Cheers-type bar. And to some extent… you do. Albeit a much smaller version where, instead of a jukebox and outdated timber décor, you pass turntables and enter a relaxed space filled with low-hanging lights, local artworks and simple chic surroundings. It is indeed pretty “sweet”.

Situated in an old spice house at the bottom end of Hobson Street, there’s a lot to like about this place. The staff are always super friendly and know faaaaaaar too much about their product. I’d say this has come about from a perfect balance of tertiary study, previous job experience and extra-curricular research but, regardless of this, they’re always quite happy to explain the history of a cocktail while making it – which is almost always very interesting!

The array of “ammunition” on hand to concoct the plethora of combinations they craft is also astounding.  A huge selection of different rums, vodkas, gins, bourbons (and I’m finding out there’s more to bourbon than a Jim Beam & Cola), whiskies, bitters and other mixers adorn the shelves behind the bar in all manner of weird and wonderful bottle types. The barstaff, like a mechanic and his/her tools, know exactly where to reach for the perfect ingredient required in whatever recipe is being meticulously followed. Added to this the running commentary and general banter and you’ve got yourself the perfect after-work drinks venue – especially if you want to escape the crowds and noise.  Here you instantly feel like a regular and are treated like a mate, rather than one of many customers.

Some of the drinks I’ve seen and had a chance to sample, during my few visits, have involved anything from long sticks of cucumber and bitters to violet liqueur and sugar cubes. What these guys can’t make isn’t worth making, and they are quick to recommend a suitable creation if you tell them what you like.

The team at suite are also the current holders of the inter-bar challenge which they won by competing in a “decathlon” with events including a traditional boat race and a pie-eating competition. The trophy is nestled amongst the spirit bottles behind the bar… so you’ll take some time finding it.

Check it – Suite Bar.

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