Oh summer, how I love you. The silly season is well underway, and with that comes an over-booked calendar, lengthened lunch hours and a valid excuse (as if you needed one) to treat yourself to a cocktail or two. It can be difficult to decide which establishment to visit first, but we took it upon ourselves to trial some of the very best summer variations on offer in Auckland; it was a tough job, but someone had to do it. So without further ado, we bring to you, the liquid gold that will put the 'ahh' in 'summ-ahh'.
Yes, this drink is delicious; not too sweet and perfect for a warm day, but look at it. Just, look at it. The Hawaiian Time is what I'm told is a 'chick flick' - an ultra-feminine fruity and floral masterpiece that gets its signature blue hue from blue Bacardi. I had to wait an extra 10 minutes for mine to arrive because all the amazing globe glasses were in use, but the wait's worthwhile, even if it's just for the Insta post.
If you're a mint fan and find yourself constantly disappointed by the scrawny sprig of limp mint perched on the side of your cocktail, prepare yourself for a pleasant surprise. Not only do you get a fistful of mint in your Dear Olivia, but you get to enjoy it sitting among the amazing hanging baskets unique to Soul, looking out towards the boats you'll only ever dream about. The Belvedere Pink Grapefruit Vodka, mixed with award-winning mandarin marmalade and ginger beer makes this cocktail fresh and tart, slightly fizzy and totally drinkable.
Summery and not too sweet, Mekong Baby's Miss Saigon is one of their most popular cocktails. What I loved about it (apart from the pretty coral colour) was the fact that you can taste every ingredient; the passionfruit, blood orange, kick from the lemon and above all that you can actually taste the basil too. This cocktail is not too sweet, not too sour and just perfect for a summers' day. Pro tip: it goes excellently with their kingfish sashimi.
There's plenty of sangria options to choose from at Mexico (as well as a refreshing new range of margarita flavours). We went for the Tinto Sangria, which is more earthy than sweet, with a subtle cinnamon kick giving it a bit of warmth. With their outdoor seating right on Ponsonby Road, Mexico is a good spot to kick back with a carafe and watch the passer-bys. It's also one of the only places in Auckland where you'll get a fairly authentic sangria.
This elusive drop isn't actually featured on the SPQR menu anymore - you simply have to be in the know to, well, know about it. So now that I've told you, do yourself a favour and order up a Slapper - it's an icy, blended chocolate and fresh strawberry concoction served up in a martini glass and dusted with chocolate powder... need I say more? If you can score a table either on the footpath or in the covered front area where you'll still get some sun, a Slapper at SPQR is the perfect post-meal treat.
No, the novelty of pouring your cocktail out of a teapot into cute little teacups hasn't worn off yet. Unlike a certain establishment on Vulcan Lane, the Bohemian Iced Tea looks like it belongs in a tea set, and is dangerously easy to drink. The Absolut Vanilla and Citron gives the Earl Grey a pop of freshness and the Peach Schnapps was a clever addition, giving the tipple a small amount of sweetness. The Gypsy Tea Room is a quiet but long-standing little bar in the subdued suburb of Westlynn; the ideal spot for an iced tea with a kick on a lazy Sunday.
This was my first time visiting the Takapuna outpost and it definitely won't be the last. Blunderbuss looks fairly unassuming from the road, but walk through the fairly dark interior and around a couple of bends and you'll find yourself in a covered garden bar, surrounded by tables of the tall and short variety, tons of greenery and fairy lights and, if you're lucky, a live band in the corner. We shared a carafe of the Rosé Sangria - it's a delicious mix of rosé, peach, blood orange, raspberries and rose water. The carafe came out with two jars chocka full of ice, apple, berries and a mixture of citrus; always a good start. The sangria itself is one of the best I've tried - the rose water was unexpected but lovely, and the pile of ice cut through the sweetness of the fruit.