Pub spy: Mea Culpa, Ponsonby

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Address: 3/175 Ponsonby Rd
Ph: (09) 376 4460
Open: Mon-Wed 3pm-late, Thurs-Sat 5pm-late.

Small does not mean less at Mea Culpa. Photo / Getty Images
Small does not mean less at Mea Culpa. Photo / Getty Images

Mea Culpa (my fault, in Latin) is the perfect name for a bar. "I'm sorry I'm late, it was all my fault," is the ideal excuse to use when you've become a little detained at a bar with some friends when you'd promised to be back in time to cook dinner.

But Mea Culpa is more than simply a great name, it's a great bar. It's tiny, narrow and very simple - a bar and a bartender waiting to make your night feel so much better.

Small doesn't mean less, either. The bar is stacked with the sort of spirits that suggest that the owners are the sort of people who can't visit a place without bringing back a little liquid piece of it.

In other words, the spirit selection is outstanding.

Yes, you can get a beer; yes you can get a wine; but, frankly, why would you bother when every imaginable flavour is sitting behind the bar in a beautiful bottle, just waiting to be sampled.

The food tends to come from the Japanese restaurant next door, but that is no hardship and, if you really want to check out how good this city's cocktail culture is, you won't be worrying about what nibbles are on the menu; you'll be in the more than capable hands of the staff, who will fine-tune a drink to your mood, whatever that may be.

The staff are excellent, knowledgeable, friendly and chatty and are perfectly capable of smashing out a fantastic cocktail while still keeping you engaged in conversation, which is a lot harder than it looks.

The annoyingly youthful Cam Timmins manages to combine boyish charm with a quite scary knowledge of what's behind his bar and also has a few surprise selections to excite even the most jaded of palates.

All in all, it's an absolute gem of a bar and one of the real jewels of Ponsonby Rd. And if I sound like I'm gushing, believe me, it's all their fault.

- Herald on Sunday

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