Cocktails that are off the hook.
January 26, 2016
As if the Hannah's laneway precinct didn't cater to your food vice of choice already—residents include Red Rabbit Roastery, Leeds St Bakery, Pizza Pomodoro, the Wellington Chocolate Factory and Golding's Free Dive—the newest reason to increase your cocktail fund is Hanging Ditch.
Andrew Gray and Benjamin Irvine are proud fathers of their new venture. After years bartending from Wellington to Melbourne at a myriad of bars between them, the two reunited in the capital to meld their inspirations from explorations overseas into Hanging Ditch.
The bar, still a mere fetus when I visited is finding its feet in its brilliantly-situated spot to the left of Golding's. The only indicator of its existence are flickering candles in the window, but look up and you'll spot the signage. Inside, the decor is a sophisticated assemblage of couches and tables to congregate around on any night of the week, the perfect setting for casual weeknights with friends or a late-night weekend tipple. In the top left of the space is the impressive bar—a sweeping wooden affair wide enough to give both patron and bartender room to do their thing.
Another thing is the range of liquor available: it's off the hook. Literally. Suspended from the ceiling, strapped in and dangling overhead on hooks are endlessly glinting bottles, row upon row of their ever-growing selection. The effect is rather mesmerising, something to stare at while Benji or Andy mix your creation.
And what creations—you'll be given combinations that all at once feel classic and also ask why you've never thought of them before. I started with Cabin in the Woods, an exclusively Hanging Ditch tipple composed of rum, pistachio, orgeat and lime. The flavours are developed and perfectly shaken by Benji. Honourable mention, if you're into this kind of thing is the glassware—each complement their drink and your surrounds perfectly. Another excellent cocktail to try is the Resperation. Flavours of vodka, lemon, elderflower, marmalade and peach all mingle into a beautifully fruity, zesty combination. The elderflower added a distinctly floral tang that for some reason went beautifully with the peach—absolutely one to try if you're into the whole fruity cocktail palaver. I am absolutely repeating my experience with a Resperation in hand sometime soon.
Most importantly though, Hanging Ditch has nailed perhaps the most overlooked aspect of an establishment—its atmosphere. Andy and Benji make you feel instantly comfortable in the typically highbrow cocktail culture, whether you're seated at a sparsely populated bar or with your friends on a heaving Friday night. Promises of exclusively vinyl-scored nights, the installation of couches and the odd guest appearance from bartender friends from throughout the city's cocktail playground mean you should absolutely keep a keen eye on Hanging Ditch's next moves.