Mystery bar number 24
The previous mystery bar was far too easy, but I couldn't resist slipping it in here during its brief existence. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's the Festival Club, located in the Pacific Crystal Palace tent in Waitangi Park.
Today's mystery bar is more of a restaurant than a bar, but it definitely has a bar area and a serious approach to drinks as well as food. While the emphasis is on wine (with a cellar list stretching over several pages of bottles from $200 to $1800), they've got a broad selection of spirits (including Hennessy Paradis at a mere $90 for 60ml) and a cocktail list that ranges from the traditional to the innovative. I had a very unusual but pleasant Martini (which I'll discuss later), and as well as the canonical version they offer interesting variations like the Dirty Blue Goose: Grey Goose vodka, Noilly Prat, olive brine and blue-cheese stuffed olives. That's not just a cocktail, that's an accurate summary of my entire diet!
As you'll have gathered from the prices, it's certainly very upmarket, and it's also very masculine with all that dark wood and leather. Without the smoking ban, this would have been full of paunchy bald men puffing away on cigars of a girth that would suggest serious over-compensation for some other deficiency. As it was, there were quite a few female clients, many of distinctly cougarish appearance, though they did seem to be personal friends of the owner. There are also enough "girly" (i.e. pink and fruity) cocktails to broaden its appeal, and all in all its definitely worth popping in for a drink rather than saving it for a special dinner. Someday I may even be able to afford a bottle of something by their sponsor.