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14° & RAINY ON FRIDAY 18 OCTOBER IN AUCKLAND
By Stephen Heard
July 24, 2019
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The Churchill

This stunning new rooftop bar is all about gin and next-level drinking snacks.
By Stephen Heard
July 24, 2019
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Marriott International's first New Zealand hotel, Four Points by Sheraton Auckland, opened last year in the heart of the CBD on Queen Street. While the 255-room property has been steadily taking bookings, the final piece of the puzzle on level 20 has only just been unveiled.

The Churchill is the crown jewel of the hotel, and another rooftop bar claiming to be New Zealand's highest. It takes up 150 square metres of the top level, making the most of the panoramic vistas of the city — views on the northern side of the building tick off nearly every quintessential Auckland landmark, from the Waitakere Ranges to the Harbour Bridge, Sky Tower and the Hauraki Gulf. The innards are just as impressive; interior designer Paul Izzard was enlisted to create an atmosphere reminiscent of a Shanghai rooftop cocktail bar. The end result features a luxe wraparound bar, plush velvet and leather seating and two private rooms only accessible by staircase.

Gin is the hero of the drinks list. Bar Manager Scott O'Connor, who has previously worked at Fort Lane's The Jefferson, has selected more than 160 varieties of mother's ruin for the menu, ranging from Beefeater 24 to Auckland's Scapegrace and Cardrona Distillery's bourbon barrel-aged drop which will set you back $40 a pour. Classic bottom shelf varieties aren't anywhere to be seen.

If you're looking to streamline the ordering process, the bar also features a 10/10/10 gin and tonic menu, where visitors can take their pick from ten varieties of gin, tonics and botanicals for garnish. The set $16 menu could see you pair grapefruit tonic with chilli and lime or Japan's Suntory Roku gin with dehydrated orange and coriander seeds. On this occasion, rather than butcher our own Frankenstein beverages, we simply selected the botanicals and left everything else in the hands of the bar staff. The results were promising — the Malfy Arancia Blood Orange gin worked a treat with mint and cucumber, while the star anise and lavender botanicals added a pleasant point of difference to the elevated G&T.

Champagne is another feature of the drinks list with the bar's namesake Sir Winston Churchill's favourite bubbly leading the charge. O'Connor suggested that the drinks list will gradually evolve, including the addition of a cellar-only wine list and molecular cocktails which will involve everything from smoke to jelly.

The food menu is made up of next-level drinking snacks, from gin-cured pork scratchings to fries topped with parmigiana, haupuka croquettes and gin créme brûlée. The lamb shoulder hotdogs are one dish worth sharing. The crispy dogs come filled with the juicy protein and can be dipped in an accompanying sticky sweet sauce.

The only thing missing here was some decent weather, but come summer, this will be one hot drinking destination.

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