Night Flower is a bar for the most elite, expensive and exclusive to hide away upstairs for an evening — which is probably why I couldn't find it on my first go. Hidden unassumingly between Cuba Street's 1154 Pastaria and The Rogue & Vagabond, the dark wooden sign above tells those in the know they're home, and keeps the late-night wanderer, unknown Wellingtonian or ferocious partier firmly on the Ghuznee Street pavement, forever passing by.
After hiking a barrage of stairs, calling the manager to ask if this was really the right building, knocking on many a wrong door (a flat, a storage closet and a who-knows-what) — I was in. Or rather, I was almost in. There's a small space between the outside world and the real lounge that allows you to calm down, take a breath, and forget that anxious hike. With a swing of the door — I was really in.
Gestured into a dark booth lit only by a short candle and the Night 'n Day on Cuba Street, I realised there was no menu on the table. And very few cushions around to lean against. Panic set in. But that's when Karalee stepped in. With a rich background in bartending (previously of Hawthorn Lounge fame), and the deepest passion for mixing you the right alcoholic flavours, there was no one better suited for such a space — I put all my trust in Karalee for the evening.
Karalee offered a gin and tonic — their specialty — and upon tasting I began to understand the magic of Night Flower. Where previous G&Ts had been sweet, sticky-floored, sparkly messes with a complimentary stripy straw, Night Flower offered a cut above the rest. The expectation is that your drink will be bitter, but we have been sold a lie.
Rinwick Boon (formerly from Crumpet, he owns the place) makes the citrusy syrup that fills your glass. With a careful hand-selected gin (it's not just Beefeater here) the result is a light, tangy and refreshing lemonade-style drink — I just wish they had a couple of beanbags lying around and offered this drink in a pitcher because this drink is a Wellington summer's dream.
Night Flower is the place you yearn to be at, but always think is a bit too posh for you. It's a large space, dark and open, and I can see why it's become a safe-house for local celebs wanting an evening escape — it's not hard to lose yourself in a solitary nook. It's luxurious — the jazz becomes more exotic as the hours go on, the ingredients are fresh and wildly over perfected (make sure to try the English Milk Punch). You'll come for the drinks and stay for Karalee's conversation — the hospitality here is second to none. Night Flower – I'm climbing those stairs again.