Bellini, Princes Wharf, AKL

There’s a fine line between swanky and wanky. And, as subjective as this line is, Bellini manages to tread it well without fear of tripping over itself and falling into the “wanky” category. But only just.

Being a hotel bar, I had pretty low expectations for this place and first impressions were mixed. The barman (which I recognised as the “Barman of the Year 2010” from the website) didn’t seem totally stoked to be there and, much to my dissapointment, had no idea what I meant when I asked for a “hoppy” beer. He said they didn’t have “that beer”. I kindly put that miscommunication down to a language barrier, as he was (and probably still is) obviously European and didn’t quite understand what I meant. I too would be confused by someone with a different accent appearing to want a beer with exceptional jumping skills. However, all was not lost. He warmed up to our company and was very pleasant. He also recommended me a nice beer and supplied us with bar snacks. Bhuja Mix if you must know. Man, I love Bhuja Mix.

Anyhow, I ordered myself a beer and sat back. My mate Chris ordered a fancy schmancy Bourbon Old Fashioned, his drink of the moment, which apparently (if Bellini’s example is anything to go by) comes standard with a teaspoon. I’ve googled recipes for this cocktail and have yet to find one that includes a teaspoon as a finished product. I liken it to a restaurant meal being served with a ladle on top – not the done thing. The barman must have got bored whilst making it and assumed Chris knew what he was doing. We persevered.

Bellini has a pretty sweet view. It almost feels like you’re on a cruise liner, looking out at the water through massive floor-to-ceiling windows. On a beautiful sunny day you’d be hard pressed to find a bar with a better view in Auckland City central and, if you’re big on huge, old sheds (in fact, the two big sheds that are causing somewhat of a kerfuffle leading up to some huge Rugby event that’s in NZ next year – I haven’t used the events’ actual name because of this) you’re in the right place to view them. More importantly, you can see across the harbor to Devonport and Rangitoto (as always) accounts for a major part of the horizon. Pretty stunning.

Bhuja Mix (AKA Bombay Mix)

I’d recommend this place for a lazy afternoon/early evening drink. Their cocktail list is pretty impressive, they have almost any mainstream beer you could think of (except Waikato) and… Bhuja Mix.

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