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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Five Offbeat Auckland Bars Perfect for a Last-Minute Catch-Up

Spice up your evening at a 1930s-inspired piano bar, a gothic rock and roll venue or a weekend hotspot.
By Stephen Heard
April 30, 2021
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By Stephen Heard
April 30, 2021
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in partnership with

For your next last-minute catch-up, why not spice up your evening with somewhere interesting and unexpected? There are plenty of watering holes to choose from in Auckland that are a little bit different. Together with Tiger, we've rounded up five so you can get adventurous in your own backyard. Make way for a 1930s-inspired piano bar, a gothic rock and roll venue and a weekend hotspot.

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BAMBOO TIGER

This hidden gem is one of the more intriguing venues found along Karangahape Road. Formerly the home of cocktail institution and piano bar Shanghai Lil's, the 1930s-inspired Bamboo Tiger tips its hat to the far east with a wash of red lighting and decor from the set of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's also not unusual to find hosts Billy and Russell adorning full Mandarin silks. The extravagant private room, known as the Opium Den, offers an intimate experience and is one of Auckland's best kept secrets. Head here for live jazz, elegant drinks and piano karaoke. 

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THE ELEPHANT WRESTLER

On any given day of the week you might stumble across drag bingo, interactive trivia and live entertainment at The Elephant Wrestler. The lively gastropub is positioned along Takapuna's bustling Hurstmere Road and boasts plenty of room for that last-minute catch-up with friends. Pull up a chair in the outdoor courtyard and take your pick from the expansive selection of beverages. The food menu has something for everyone, too, from elevated pub classics to sizzling street food.

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ANTHOLOGY LOUNGE

Hidden down a flight of wooden stairs along Karangahape Road, Anthology Lounge was launched by a pair of music photographers after they struggled to find somewhere suitable to take their friend Slash, the lead guitarist of Guns'n'Roses, back in 2017. The suitably themed gothic rock and roll bar is lined with concert photography taken by the pair and serves as a destination for up-and-coming live acts to road test new material. The interesting drinks list pays homage to songs by the likes of Jeff Beck, Lorde and Steve Ray Vaughan.

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SATURDAYS BRITOMART

Found down The Lane, between Customs and Galway Streets, Saturdays is one of the best spots in the city for an electrifying night out. Kick your evening off in the bordering laneway with something from the street food menu before heading inside to the see where the night takes you on the bustling dance floor. The venue has room for over 600 people, allowing for plenty of space to uncage your tiger.

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WHITE + WONGS

Found right on the water's edge on Auckland's Viaduct Harbour, White + Wongs brings together some of the best street food from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. On the eclectic menu you'll find flavourful noodles next to nourishing soups and delicious dumplings — all designed for sharing to keep your catch-up interesting and enjoyable. It's open until late every day of the week so don't worry about an extended stay. If you head down after-dark on the weekend, it's not unusual to find a DJ spinning on the deck.

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For more inspiration, visit instagram.com/Tigerbeernz.

Published on April 30, 2021 by Stephen Heard

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