The holiday season can be hectic, so a pre-Christmas catch-up drink with family and friends can be just the ticket. Luckily, the city centre has a bunch of great bars on offer - from cocktails, champagne, craft beer or everything in between, you're bound to find it in the heart of the city.
Sunset | 63 - 67 Nelson Street
It's all in the name, really. If you're looking to pause and enjoy the sunset with a lush cocktail in hand and a plate or two of tasty morsels at your side, look no further. Its eclectic decor is inspired by a melting point of bars from around the world that merges cool with comfy - meaning its a great spot to recap during the Christmas rush.
Rooftop at QT | 4 Viaduct Harbour Avenue
For folks who are into modernism with a twist, head six floors up to Rooftop at QT. It's hard to work out what the best bit of this bar is - the decor, the sweeping harbour views, the menu (which is an ode to fresh local seafood, Mediterranean flavours and the concept of sharing) or the lush signature cocktails like the Sugar Plum and Honey Ryder. If Martinis are more your speed, they've got Nitro Espresso ones on tap. The perfect perch for a laid-back afternoon or a lavish late night.
Bar Albert | Corner Wyndham and Albert Street
38 floors up is Bar Albert, the icing on the cake of the voco Hotel. Stepping into this deco-inspired space, you're greeted by views across the city, Waitemata Harbour and Waitakere Ranges. Their small but perfectly formed seasonal cocktail list is inspired by local ingredients and places, as is their wine and beer list. They've got a solid selection of bar snacks, including housemade pizza and antipasto platters and comfy nooks to enconse yourself in.
The Mexican Cafe | 67 Federal Street
Margaritas were practically made for summer sipping, and the iconic Mexican Cafe has got them on lock. Classic or fruit, it won't matter which you choose because The Mexican Cafe has been slinging them since 1983, so they're pros. Pair a glass (or two) with a side dish like their moreish chipotle bread or delicious nachos.
Get set up by the water
Sardine | 149 Quay Street
Tucked inside pan-Asian eatery White + Wongs is Sardine, a great spot for celebrations that call for stunning views, bespoke cocktails and craft beer.
The Good George Brewery | 17 Jellicoe Street
Featuring a menu overflowing with one of the best exports out of Hamilton in 30 years (craft beer and spirits) The Good George Brewery on North Wharf is all about combining a relaxed atmosphere with quality food and drinks.
Dr Rudi's Rooftop Brewing Co. | 204 Quay Street
Smack-bang in the middle of the Viaduct is Dr Rudis. Featuring fab harbour views, and a menu that has everything from Oysters to tacos, cocktails to craft beer, it's clear why this place is always packed.
The Parasol & Swing Company | 7/204 Quay Street
Award-winning Parasol & Swing is one of The Viaduct's most loved rooftop gems, set over two stories with a stellar cocktail list, bar snacks and great entertainment. Catch up with friends and soak up the sun as you celebrate the festive season that's in full swing
For cosy vibes
Captain's Bar | 99 Halsey Street
Grab a spot on the outdoor terrace at the Park Hyatt's Captain's Bar for an afternoon of classic cocktails (with a local twist) and a selection of around 60 different rums, all while being treated to stunning views. If the evening gets cool, head inside to the cosy den-like interior of Captain's bar for a seat near the roaring fire.
Ghost Donkey | Commercial Bay
What's more festive than sitting under twinkling fairy lights for a pre-Christmas catch-up? At Ghost Donkey, you can do just that. Set inside Commercial Bay's 'One Queen Dining', Ghost Donkey is a mezcal and tequila bar featuring a range of intriguing drinks like a mushroom margarita and prosecco served with a mini Mexican popsicle inside.
Rocketman | 40 Customs Street East
This new whimsical party bar pays homage to retro-futurism with its epic, neon-lit interior. You can anticipate a playlist filled with beloved 90s hip hop classic and a sprinkle of disco vibes!
Everybody's | 7 Fort Lane
At Everybody's, there's something for everybody! Take advantage of the outdoor deck area now that the weather is on the up and be transported into the decadent split-level oasis of this Fort Lane hidden gem. Perfect for gathering with a group of friends for a few drinks before going your separate ways over Christmas.
Huami Bar | Federal Street
Tucked behind a bamboo screen on Federal Street, Huami Bar offers a sanctuary in the heart of the bustling inner-city precinct. Sister to SkyCity's Chinese restaurant Huami, it’s the ideal spot for a quiet drink or to start that big night ahead. What's more, join Huami Bar's Gin Club online for free and get $12 gins all day every day, plus early access to gin of the month promotions, special gin club events and more.
Mezze Bar | 9 Durham Street
Set in the cultural heart of the city centre, the Aotea Arts Quarter, Mezze Bar is an institution amongst city dwellers and with a relaxed ambience, it's a great place to meet for a drink after work or on the weekends. It's Durham Street East location also makes it a great place to be if you're planning on heading to a show afterwards or wanting to peruse High Street's great gift shopping offering before or after.
The Shakespeare | 61 Albert Street
An iconic establishment on Albert Street, The Shakespeare is a must if you're a fan of craft beers, traditional pub grub and great happy hours. This gem on Albert Street is the oldest working micro-brew pub in New Zealand, and you're always guaranteed a great atmosphere.
Parked Up Beer Garden | Victoria Park
In New Zealand, we're lucky that the festive season takes place in summer, meaning we can enjoy celebrations and catch-ups in the sunshine. The Parked Up Beer Garden is perfect for this. The old caretaker's villa on Victoria Park has been revamped to become Auckland's secret beer garden and urban oasis with live music, resident DJs and special guests, plus delicious sharing menus. Their festoon and fairy lighting take effect when the sun goes down and the party heats up.