Not since Ponsonby Road's Prohibition has an Auckland establishment so stylishly transported its patrons back to the roaring '20s. This speakeasy-style bar is more than a room that serves gin (though the range is possibly unrivalled) – the cocktail menu, curated by the award-winning Barney Toy, contains all sorts, and the French-inspired bar snacks are worth a trip on their own.
Nestled in the historic Queens Ferry Building, The Gin Room has plenty of old-world charm, and the décor is plush, woody and velvety – for some, it'll be a welcome departure from exposed pipes and milk crates. The service is friendly but not boisterous, and the music is quiet enough to catch every word of a conversation – even a whispered one. In short, it's the perfect spot for an intimate catch-up after a long day.
Behind the bar are 30 speciality gins, with our barman waxing lyrical on the delights of Portobello Road, an old-school London Dry gin containing traditional botanicals and spices.
The cocktails can be described as updated classics, with the addition of a quirky ingredient or too - but no gimmicks. We ordered the Coconut Ramos (essentially a Gin Fizz with delicious house-made coconut soda) and the Peppered Collins, composing Uncle Val's Peppered Gin, OJ, soda, a wedge of lemon and a salt rim (much better than a Tom).
If you're peckish, the croquet-monsieur is probably the best I've ever had. Ham and cheese? Good. Bread? Good. Hot mustard? Good. Next time I'm trying the antipasto bread (roast peppers, cured meats and cheeses) baked inside a baguette – why haven't I seen this elsewhere?
Gin always taste like summer, and The Gin Room will be perfect for drawn-out weeknight drinks in the warmer months. Though there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't visit before then.
Image: The Gin Room.