Taboo - Inner City Swillhouse
Victoria Park's new late-night cocktail bar offers delicious drinks that are impossible to fault.
If there's an Auckland location that desperately needs a reason to go there, it's Victoria Park Market. Now, it finally has one in the shape of a new late-night cocktail bar.
So fresh there's still a faint scent of paint in the air, Taboo is the downstairs little sister of The Oakroom — but it has a completely different offering. Open from 4pm Wednesday to Saturday and operating until (really) late, Taboo's target clientele is the late-night crowd who want a well made cocktail in a low key environment — you know, proper grown ups.
Walking into Taboo the first thing you notice is the bar in the middle of the room followed by a back wall heaving with a huge range of spirits. The decor is a mix of unfinished and polished which really pulls everything together. Huge murals don the walls and there's even a "Never Have I Ever" chalkboard if you feel like getting inappropriately honest after a tipple or two.
But down to the important details, what makes or breaks any venue: the drinks and the service. Sure I was here early in the evening and the bar was quiet, but I was impressed by how great the staff were. Friendly bartender Andrew was informative without a hint of pretension and happy to go the extra mile. Are there more wonderful words than "Take a seat and I will bring it over to you."?
The cocktail list covers all the bases — from a dessert negroni to a concoction made with turmeric-infused vodka — and, although the classics aren't listed, they are available — you just have to ask. The approach at Taboo is that they will make you whatever you fancy. Cocktails average between $16 to $20 with the happy hour menu cocktails available for $10 from 4 to 7pm daily.
I ordered the Celery Sour (a gin sour) which was well made and presented and thoroughly enjoyable. The menu is mostly made up of bar snacks and drink accompaniments like charcuterie, mezze platters and a cheesy chilli toastie, though one essential bar snack was missing: fries.
Taboo describes itself as an "Inner City Swillhouse" which I think is doing them a disservice as this hideaway is as far from a swillhouse as you can imagine. It's a well located, well presented and excellently staffed bar with delicious drinks impossible to fault.