Our Bar Scene Babe Tash McGill joins Blogger at Large’s Auckland Scene team this week and starts with this little pearler in her ‘hood:
There’s something about having a local that makes you feel like a real grown-up. Being that this is my first outing for Blogger At Large, all things considered it was time to take an objective look (and set the standard) with my tried and true, The Corner Store in Eden Terrace.
The Corner Store is an art-deco styled classic cocktail bar at the top of Mt Eden Rd, landmarked by the Sunlight Soap advertisement painted on the bricks of the upper floor and a regular flurry of Mediaworks types from just down the road.
Right – but onto the drinks. Or rather, the bartenders serving them. The Corner Store is currently home to the Lewishams Bartender of the Year 2010, Chase Bickerton. Sadly though, Chase is soon to be setting off for a while and on the night in question.. there was a new guy trialing behind the bar. Perfect.
Alessandro is about as Italian as it gets, and just as tall and delicious as an Italian bartender ought to be. I sidled up to the bar, said hi to a few of the regular crowd and took a seat.
You can tell a lot from how someone greets you at the bar – if they take the time to make eye contact and ask how your day is going, it’s an instant ten points on the board. And when I asked for his recommendation, Alessandro did not disappoint with his suggestion of an Italian classic, the Negroni. When made perfectly the three hits of flavour from Campari, gin and sweet vermouth should come through in perfect balance, garnished with ice and a little orange rind. It’s simple enough but easy to get wrong if you don’t measure perfectly.
Let’s just say, Alessandro is a good measure of a bartender, in more ways than one! The Negroni went down a treat as an after-work aperitif, followed by a rum-based Manhattan from another member of the great team. Thankfully even though the weather is turning chilly, the outdoor heaters are perfectly placed for a little people watching and pizza (Al Volo across the road is divine and you can order from the bar).
As the night wore on, there was the usual mix of regulars, post-work, pre-date and post-show drinkers in the house. I reflected that much of what makes The Corner Store so appealing (besides the ample street parking, appropriate atmospheric playlists and did I mention the pizza from across the road yet?), is the way you never quite know what you’re going to get or who you’ll find yourself in conversation with.
Which must be why I keep going back!
Here are my recommendations: if you’ve never drunk a cocktail by yourself at the bar, The Corner Store is the perfect place to go, they are usually quieter early in the weekend and it can be a great opportunity to push your palate a little bit.
Otherwise if you are heading to a show at the Powerstation, then pizza and Asahi on tap (or my favourite the Brewski from Wanaka) are great pre-gig options for a group. However.. while Alessandro and Chris will undoubtedly do a great job behind the bar of the local, it just might be time to spread my wings a little further.
So look out Auckland, here I come! No more cheeky little pop-ins, I’m out to visit every nook and cranny of the bustling bar scene in depth. But first, one more whisky from the top shelf. The Corner really does have a great collection.
The Corner Store, 25 Mt Eden Rd