Mystery bar number 51
This mystery bar lark is obviously getting too easy for some of you hipsters-about-town. I posted the previous mystery bar less than 24 hours after it opened, and within 2 hours it had been identified. Though I guess if you call yourself a "professional opening goer", then of course you had to be there.
It is indeed The Mighty Mighty (definite article optional), above Mr Bun in Cuba Mall. It's an informal extension of Matterhorn next door, and it's been eagerly awaited for a long time, ever since the previous occupants closed down following an invertebrate embarassment. It's quite a departure for architect Alistar Cox, revelling in burlesque bohemia and kiwiana kitsch instead of his trademark clean dark lines (cf Matterhorn, Mojo or Kaffee Eis). It's a style that hasn't been seen in a major bar in Wellington before, but Gemma's comment that it's managed by the former manager of The Pit make sense, since if I had to do a The Player-style pitch for it, I'd have to describe it as "Cabaret meets The Pit". And as with Cabaret, it's intended as a music venue: and I'm looking forward to Bachelorette playing there tomorrow night.
Time for something more obscure. Today's mystery bar is in a heritage building, and in one sense at least it certainly makes the most of it. The place is full of memorabilia and wall displays to remind patrons of the illustrious and colourful past of the building and its environs, but attempts to find a happy medium between historic charm and modern comforts have just resulted in blandness. Perhaps that's hard to avoid in an establishment of this sort, and it's better than some previous incarnations, but it's a bit of a missed opportunity.
The clientele was an odd mix when I visited. There were plenty of young people wandering through, but the bar was dominated by a jovial and already well-lubricated squad (is that the right collective noun?) of rural RSA members. Although this is presumably an unusual neighbourhood for them to gather, they seemed at home among the leather tub chairs and framed rugby jerseys. Despite their rambunctious comradeship, it still feels a long way from the diverse and occasionally scary bunch of people who used to gather here many years ago.