Not only Tāmaki Makaurau’s newest rooftop bar, Bar Albert is also its highest. It’s located on the 38th floor of the Voco Auckland City Centre hotel and has slightly dizzying views out over both the Waitematā Harbour and the Waitākere Ranges. An open-air deck means you can make the most of the view while enjoying a signature seasonal cocktail. The interiors are polished and warm-toned, with art deco-inspired accents such as gleaming round gold tables, curved pendant lights mounted on the walls and dowelled brown leather surrounding the bar.
Aiming to make the most of local produce and makers, the food menu mostly comprises small plates such as market fish crudo with salsa verde, grapefruit and chilli, New Zealand rock oysters, and pumpkin and goat’s cheese arancini – plus antipasti and cheese platters to share. Cocktails lean towards New Zealand-made boutique spirits, such as Roots Marlborough gin and Broken Heart rum from Queenstown, along with some imported whiskies and mezcal.
13 Wyndham Street
Find this bar on the 10th – and highest – floor of Sudima’s Auckland City hotel. On the corner of Wellesley and Nelson streets in the CBD, it has spectacular views over the water and Wynyard Quarter in one direction, and out to the Waitākere Ranges in the other. And yes, you can literally watch the sun set over the Waitematā Harbour from your stripey chair or sofa, as you sip a cocktail and share some small plates.
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The cocktail menu includes clever flavour combinations such as Arquitecto tequila blanco, cherry blossom salt and East Imperial grapefruit soda – a play on the famous Paloma. There are also a couple of fun options on tap, including the Sunset Spritz (aperitivo blend, apricot, sparkling rosé), which makes for easy drinking on a hot Auckland day.
Sunset was designed by Auckland and Sydney-based studio CTRL Space. There are obvious nods to the ’70s in the curved ceilings and banquettes of the 132-seater space, and its pastel hues also give a whiff of the ’80s. Clever use of timber, tiles and stone keeps things classy and contemporary.
Food is snacky, largely based on perennial bar favourites like fried chicken, sliders, koftas and waffle fries. But in everything, there’s evidence of executive chef Harmeet Singh Nanda’s Mumbai roots – the waffle fries come with a smattering of masala spice and tomato kasundi, for instance, and the fried chicken has a curried mustard dipping sauce.
Level 10, 63–67 Nelson Street
Technically more terrace than rooftop, Palmer nevertheless offers heady city views and open air. The venue was designed by Australian studio Acme & Co (Margaret, Fred’s, Mimi’s), in the company’s very first New Zealand project.
Head to the curved outdoor terrace for a drink and a bite surrounded by downtown Auckland’s skyscrapers, or slide into a comfortable rounded booth in the light-flooded interior. A warmly neutral palette is calming and tonal, with pops of colour from abstract wall-mounted art.
The cocktail menu highlights seasonal, local ingredients. Try the Beta Sweet Sour – pisco with carrot cordial, pineapple, sage, lemon and egg whites; or the Satsuma Noir – L’Opera bitter orange aperitif, by Hawke’s Bay maker Hastings Distillers, finished with sweet vermouth and mandarin soda.
Chef James Kenny’s sharing plates are loosely inspired by Greek and Italian cuisine. There’s kefalograviera cheese with peppered figs, chicken liver parfait with smoked beetroot and woodfired bread, and smoked kahawai croquettes with seaweed tartare and chives.
1 Albert Street
Another hotel bar to figuratively check into for a few hours, The Churchill is on the 20th floor of the Four Points by Sheraton hotel. While the venue originally launched in mid-2019, it was closed for over two years from March 2020 due to the pandemic and has only recently opened its doors again.
As to be expected, it has fantastic views – but its real point of difference is the extensive gin menu, which includes nearly 200 different expressions. The menu takes up the Winston Churchill theme and runs with it for all the cocktail names – such as Blenheim Palace, an apple, feijoa, mint, lemon and soda mocktail – but you can also order a classic G&T with your choice of gin and a range of tonic and botanical combinations. Think rosemary and pink peppercorn, basil and dehydrated lemon, rose petals and juniper berries, and rhubarb and star anise.
Food-wise, there are smaller snacks such as gin-cured pork scratchings, sliders and skewers, plus cheese and charcuterie boards, and hot dishes such as honey-baked brie.
396 Queen Street