18 Buckingham St, Arrowtown.

The view:

Dark, low ceiling, tiny windows, brown leather chairs in front of a roaring open fire and stone walls … pretty cool.

The vibe: A handful of tourists and locals kicking back late on a Sunday afternoon. There is live music some nights, but not when we were there.

The chat: A knowledgeable and passionate barman who could sell ice to Coronet Peak and a host of cocktails to curious thirsty people. Don't be in a hurry though, perfection takes a wee while.


The menu: A wide selection of pre-dinner cocktails and a good variety of gin, whisky, beer and wine.

The expectation: We'd been told we'd love this secret little bar down the alley, behind the blue doors ...

The reality: ... and we did. You could be in a Scottish pub or a medieval English inn - the world disappears behind the blue doors. A perfect pre- or post-dinner drinks stop. If there was live music, we would have settled in till the small wee hours.