Head down the rabbit hole on Dixon Street to find this dark and moody cocktail bar.
Birdcage is a new bar that's recently opened along the ever-busy Dixon Street in Wellington. A bright pink exterior announces its existence, but apart from that, it remains "hidden in plain sight", so to speak. Having already formed an opinion in my head of what it would look like inside, I walked through the door and was immediately taken aback at how wrong I was. I felt like I'd gone from Alice in Wonderland's rabbit hole, and walked down into a pirate's city tavern.
Dark, moody lighting, with a bit of charm from the fairy lights hanging from the ceiling. Wooden floors, long tables with bar stools, tall pillars covered in old looking, recycled pallet wood — it truly felt as if I'd stepped onto the set of Black Sails. And I was not the first to have mentioned this, I was told by the bartender. He also pointed out the many pieces of recycled pool tables, scattered around the room in various places. The more I sat and looked at the details, the more I felt that the Alice in Wonderland theme that I'd felt outside had been carried through to the interior as well.
I walked over to the bar, walking past a few groups of people chatting loudly and enjoying beers and cocktails. Five birdcages hung above the tall, wooden bar top and the various spirits on offer displayed themselves behind the bartender. I was immediately greeted and asked what I wanted. I ordered a South Side cocktail for myself (which was fresh and minty and delicious) and after a few tastings, my partner had finally made up his mind and ordered from the selection of 12 tap beers. The music was great and the service was fast.
The name was chosen with the location in mind — next to the "pigeon park" and also has a "element of seediness". "We're all caged animals," says Ryan Mann, who was the bartender for the night. The team has created a great space for a gathering, and the patrons range from 19-year-old bartenders discussing new cocktail ideas, to 70-year-olds keen for a yarn after a show at the Opera House. They've also teamed up with Soul Shack, and will be offering their usual chicken goodness until late. Also on the menu, you'll find fries, garlic bread and margherita pizza — all great drinking eats to snack on.
Birdcage is a great new place to disappear into and eat, drink and be merry.