While moseying down Fort Lane lit with suspicious red neon lights, you will hear the echoes of festive chatter from down under. Tucked away in the basement of the Imperial building is the new and exclusive whiskey bar – The Jefferson. Greeted with the deliciously warm and lush amber glow of 547 whiskey bottles, you instinctively know that you have discovered a rare and beautiful post-work sanctuary. On a Thursday night, this subterranean haven is bustling with suited corporates and hard-liquor-drinking women. They have successfully bridged the gap of what Auckland was in dire need of – an upmarket adult lounge bar.
Capitalizing on the recent boom of demand for bourbon, The Jefferson exists to supply a plethora of choice for even those with the most fastidious palate. The price point starts at a slightly high $10 and rounds off to a staggering $104 per shot. Interestingly, most of the bottles on display have been consumed, proving the market's high demand of premium bourbon to be true.
Full commendation for the exceptional interior design goes to award-winning Paul Izzard, who has created beautiful spaces such as Baduzzi and Woodpecker Hill. The 13m-long-bar strategically serves people efficiently – perfect for an impatient grump or modern day yuppie that needs a drink stat. Although the atmosphere exudes swankiness, the retaining of industrial aesthetics keeps the vibe balanced, hindering the hoity-toity, pretentious atmosphere that can be rather unwelcoming. Sipping on a strong yet smooth Humphrey Bogart or a fruity Shirley Maclaine with spiced feijoa jam ($18 each) in the plush velveteen booths, you can definitely 'treat yo'self' to a hedonistic night.
The 60m of shelving can display up to an impressive 620 bottles, not to mention the wine, beer and 120 bottles of gin and vodka to choose from and the masterly bartenders that can competently concoct any cocktail you wish. To complement this extensive collection of liquor, is a prime rib menu and handwritten weekly seasonal menu. Although they say, 'never say never', it is safe to say, you will never be short on choice at this one-stop-shop.
The director, Ofir Yudilevich, is an executive chef by trade, which will make you sigh an epiphanic, "aaaah" in realisation to why the food is so damn good. The deep-fried pickles ($8) make an authentic American addition to the 36-hour slow-cooked BBQ pork ribs ($29) and Crystal Bay prawns with tomato polenta and citrus beurre blanc – unfortunately, the latter is no longer available. If you are one to suffer from food FOMO, just become a Jefferson regular.
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