Mystery bar number 59
Saturday's mystery bar was indeed fairly mysterious, and I'd imagine that few if any of you have been there. It's called The Loft, as correctly identified by Colin from the description, though he's never been there either. It's a very odd place to find a bar, even one that's primarily a café: on the top floor of the historic Whitcoulls building in Lambton Quay, accessible via a lift in the shop or from Gilmer Tce, and part of the new Sync gym and spa complex. Given that it's described as "the only restaurant in town where you can order a Zone balanced meal", I hardly think that it's going to become a den of hedonistic excess, even with cocktail specials on Friday evenings.
Today's mystery bar, on the other hand, is very much a proper late-night bar, and definitely sees its share of revelry. The décor is slickly glamorous, though in a style that's become perhaps over-familiar, mixing dark wood and leather with chandeliers and mirror balls. The staff seemed very young (translation: we seemed very old), but were impressively professional when it came to mixing cocktails.
While some of us stuck to classic drinks, it's clear that their forte lay not in their competently made Manhattans and Caipirinhas, but in sweet and creamy concoctions. The telling detail was that when our drinks were accompanied by a bowl of free snacks, they weren't the usual nuts or other savoury treats, but little pink and white lollies. This all makes perfect sense given that the music was top-40 pop with a dance beat, and that the floor was quickly taken over by hen party from the Hutt. No matter how sophisticated the design or how professional the mixology, I think that recent history will continue to weigh on this place and define its style and clientèle.