Eat & Drink

How To Bar Hop The Best Of Christchurch’s Nightlife

The fun doesn’t end when the sun sets in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. In fact, some would argue it hasn’t even begun. Dotted down laneways and along the South Island city’s lively entertainment strip, Victoria Street is a collection of energetic establishments – some old, others new – but all offering a guaranteed good time and a delicious bevvy. These Christchurch bars are local institutions, and worthy of exploring to make your night one to remember.

Gin Gin

 

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Yep, you can take a pretty good guess at what Gin Gin is all about. Enter the unassuming wooden doors down Victoria Street and be welcomed into an intimate gin bar so cosy it’s like being in owner Luke Dawkins’ own living room. That’s down to the fact Luke spent many hours trawling through op shops to find the perfect pre-loved furniture and décor to kit out his establishment.

Sit in the courtyard and try a few of the affordable drinks on the menu, like classic gin and tonic mixes, boutique gin infusions with fermented berries and rose petals, and tea-based cocktails. Dishes are designed to be shared and match the botanicals. If gin’s not your thing, there’s beer and wine on the list, too.

Where: Gin Gin – 92 Victoria Street, Christchurch Central

Kong

 

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Welcome to Christchurch’s premier 1930s cocktail lounge on The Terrace. Inside, you’ll understand why this self-described “timeless” joint is a notch above most. Plush leather booths are the perfect spot to sip pretty on whatever it is that tickles your fancy.

The extensive cocktail menu features faves like the Barrel-aged Sazerac for NZ$20 (AU$18) where Kong puts a twist on one of the oldest recorded cocktails in history. Antoine Peychaud’s aromatic bitters paired with cognac, cherry bitters, honey and absinthe is a nod to the original 1850 cocktail from New Orleans.

For the sweeter of tooth, there are dessert drinks to consider like the NZ$17 (AU$15) Lemon Cheesecake – a liquid take on America’s most famous cheesecake flavour with vodka, limoncello and cream. Bon appetit!

Where: Kong – Corner Hereford Street and Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central

Fat Eddie’s

 

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There’s never a dull moment at this establishment, which was re-opened after the 2011 earthquake that damaged much of Christchurch’s CBD and surrounds. The beloved jazz club on The Terrace has made a name for itself as the place to be for good tunes.

Secure your spot on the balcony and gaze across a sparkling Christchurch city with a drink in hand. Fat Eddie’s has all the classics: cosmopolitans, espresso martinis and mojitos are in the mix, as well as beer and wine, and all are reasonably priced. From the food menu are Eddie’s famous Southern fried chicken tenders, grilled prawn sliders, New Orleans gumbo pizza among many other mouth-watering options.

Where: Fat Eddie’s – Corner Hereford Street and Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central

The Dirty Land

 

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Espresso martini, anyone? A favourite of this establishment includes the cold-filtered martini for NZ$16 (AU$14) made with vodka from Poland and locally produced cold-drip coffee. But killer cocktails aren’t the only drawcard to this city hot spot.

Heavy red curtains, exposed brick walls, moody candlelight and good tunes welcome guests into The Dirty Land to enjoy dinner and drinks. The menu showcases an extensive variety of international spirits, beer and wine. Oh, and an impressive range of French champagne. We’ll have another round, thanks!

Where: The Dirty Land – 131 Victoria Street, Christchurch Central

OGB Bar

 

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Inside the heritage-listed Old Government Building overlooking Cathedral Square and next to an operating hotel is OGB Bar where staff don suspenders and newsboy caps. It’s all about celebrating authentic 1900s Christchurch and providing old-school hospitality, says the bar’s owner and founder, Nick Inkster.

There’s even a secret door behind a bookcase that leads from OGB Bar through to Parlour, an intimate cocktail lounge where “the ladies can go to talk about the gentlemen,” Nick says.

The bar stocks everything from an indulgent top-shelf whisky and plenty of affordable spirits to renowned New Zealand and international wine and craft beer. The cocktail list boasts tipples made with the best quality ingredients and by some of the city’s most experienced bar tenders.

Where: OGB Bar – 28 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central

Also check out our guide to Christchurch, the ideal NZ holiday all-rounder.

(Lead image: OGB Bar / Facebook)