Located on Mackelvie Street, opposite Ponsonby's Lot 3 is a semi-hidden whiskey bar and, with a name like The Cork, it could only be Irish. The Cork is home to around 35 Irish whiskeys, about 33 Scotch and a few American and Japanese varieties, ranging from $10 to $45 per shot. With roughly 100 different whiskeys in total, this homely, bite-sized bar boasts a range that rivals the largest whiskey spots in Auckland. If you're yet to jump on the amber band wagon, there's a decent wine list on offer too.
The Cork is only open on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30pm until around 4am, however it's available any night for a private hooley for groups up to 60. The bar is just like the Irish - sociable, welcoming and inclusive. The Irish owner, Jeremy Warnock, also owns The Cork's big brother Grand Central - the two are actually joined by the fire-lit lounge between them.
As it's one of the lesser-known bars in the area, it's never too difficult to get in and have a drink, even late on a Saturday night when the Ponsonby yopros are out in full swing. We showed up reasonably early on a Friday night and as the bar was still just warming up, the super friendly manager happily gave us a full rundown on what The Cork has to offer, an overview on how whiskey is made and was just an all-round passionate, hospitable mixologist. Something he would no doubt do for any patron wandering through their doors.
We went for a dram of Dalmore 12 and Tullamore Dew and took them with us to the back of the bar by the fire - a cosy spot reminiscent of your grandparent's sitting room. From within our mismatched olive chairs we watched as the crowd in Grand Central expanded, while band members and Ponsonby locals alike cruised through the lounge between the two bars.
Come 9pm the bar was filling up and Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' was whipping the atmosphere into shape for the evening ahead. Now I've enjoyed what The Cork has to offer on a Friday night, I'll be returning for happy hour (6:30 - 8:30pm) in the sunny front courtyard for a whiskey-soaked summer's evening.