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Bartender Bar Tour with Peter Lowry from Hawthorn Lounge

Hawthorn's Peter Lowry has been working in the hospo industry for over half his life.

This post is sponsored by our partner, Jameson.

Hawthorn's Peter Lowry has been working in the hospo industry for over half his life. The 32-year-old bartender from Belfast, UK started working as a dishy at the age of 15, moving up the kitchen ladder to become a commis chef, then a roundsman chef, before quitting the culinary scene and moving over to working behind the bar about ten years ago.

Concrete Playground: What's your favourite drink?
Peter Lowry: The most perfect drink is a gin and tonic: it's balanced, suits all occasions; but my favourite drink changes every day - right now I'm drinking a lot of beer. In terms of a good whisky-based drink, I'm a really big fan of the New Orleans cocktails - the Louisiana is a classic, another great one is the Remember the Maine, a variation on the Manhattan. The drink was named after the US warship that accidentally blew up and started the Spanish American war. The explosion was self-inflicted but it didn't stop the US from starting a war.

CP: What do you think of Wellington's nightlife?
PL: Wellington's great - everyone talks about how compact it is, but there are some great places out in the suburbs too. It's quite a geeky city, the bar scene is driven by having so many geeks, so they really care about what they drink a lot more. Even something like beer gets taken a lot more seriously. You also can't escape the culture here - there's art and poetry everywhere. I'd say Wellington's like a nice, dysfunctional, bonkers family.

CP: Bill Murray turns up at your bar. He asks you to take him and some of his mates on a bar hop through Wellington. Where do you take him?
PL: We'd probably just lock him inside the Hawthorn. But failing that we'd be looking at The Hop Garden, Poquito, CGR Merchant, Ancestral and Crumpet.

1. The Hop Garden

The Hop Garden is one of the true locals; it really is a local bar within the city. It's a beer bar, it doesn't have five-hundred beers on offer, but it has a good range and always has something interesting.

Insider Tip: Ask for James or Scott, and get a beer-to-food match recommendation. They both know how to match their beers to some interesting food. Beer's always better with some food. Beer loves food, food loves beer.

2. Poquito

Poquito is a really wonderful, really bonkers bar that does what they do really well. They're a cafe-by-day and bar-by-night so me and Bill would probably end up there hungover the next morning too.

Insider tip: Ask for Pauline, she's a really talented bartender - one of the best in Wellington. Order the pickled octopus with a martini or a sherry.

3. CGR Merchant

The CGR Merchant does something a little different. It's kind of an ice cream shop mentality: you choose your flavours, and there's always something interesting on offer. I personally love how the bar looks, I'm used to seeing bottles of drinks, but here it's just loads of funny-looking jars.

Insider tip: Everyone loves the salted caramel rum, but since I'm such a gin lover I'd go for the Chine White-infused gin.

4. Ancestral

Bearing in mind that Bill Murray loves whisky, I'd take him to Ancestral. It's the best whisky bar in the city. The whiskeys they have on offer are well-priced, they have some interesting independent bottlings and great bartenders.

Insider tip: For a great whisky, ask for Hiro. Rum-drinkers should try Ben Simpsons' Wellington-made gunpowder rum.

5. Crumpet

Another cafe-by-day bar-by-night, Crumpet's run by the Boon brothers who are the highlight of the Wellington hospo industry at the moment.

Insider tip: Ian (one of the Boons) makes a very good gimlet. They're also strong on their Old Fashioneds and Manhattans.

For more ideas and inspiration for your weekend, visit the Jameson Weekend Guide.

Feature photo credit: Alex Johnson

Published on September 03, 2014 by Laetitia Laubscher

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