The Koala and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary last night. I have been on the lookout for something special that we would both enjoy and stumbled across it when I read a date night review by Megan on She Said Yes blog about a whiskey bar called The Jefferson.
Nice setting? Tick.
Something out of the ordinary? Tick.
Down on the gentrified service alley of Fort Lane and beside freshly crowned Restaurant of the Year, Cassia, you’ll find the entrance to The Jefferson. A basement whiskey bar with 600 whiskeys on offer, this is a great spot to get comfy and let the staff share their nerdy whiskey wisdom with you. With a teal and brass colour scheme and old school glamour The Jefferson feels like home…if home happens to be cerulean lounge with spacious banquette seating, decent lighting and a long well-stocked whiskey bar.
There is a small food menu which I suspect is a work in progress, but they have two varieties of rib which is was of the reasons for our visit. We shared the beef short rib, the pork ribs and a bowl of chunky fries. The ribs and fries really hit the spot. Meltingly tender and slathered in punchy Jack Daniels rib sauce, these were perfection. These came with finger bowl and rib bibs which was great since we were dolled up for the occasion.
We enjoyed our dinner and delightful cocktails in the banquette seats before relocating to the bar for our whiskey tasting. The bar is stocked by region with bottles from America, Ireland, Islay (Scotland), Japan, NZ and others. If you are looking to try a range of whiskies, I assure you, this is the spot. We tasted a range of whiskeys priced from $14 to $49 per shot. This is easy to work out if there are two of you as each tasting is half a shot.
After trying an initial set of four whiskeys, we asked about Japanese whiskeys, trying a further two from Japan. I got The Koala a bottle of Akashi for his birthday in February, which he managed to finish with a little help in just a few days. I should at that was a small bottle, though I expected it to last longer that it did.
The 17 year Hibiki blend by Suntory was my favourite, though I could possibly have been swayed by the gorgeous limited edition bottle design with Japanese style flowers and cranes. At $36 a shot, this also happened to be the most expensive whiskey we had tasted at that point.
The final bottle we tasted at $49 a shot was the 23 year Black Art 1991 04.1 by Bruichladdich. This was by far The Koala’s favourite and came with a intriguing story and stunning bottle.
If we won the lottery, The Black Art and the Hibiki blend would be on our collection. Though I’d be happy to return for more tastings before stocking up. There are so many bottles, it can be overwhelming which is why a guided whiskey tasting is ideal. The staff are super knowledgeable at the whiskeys and they even had Kavalan from Taiwan which was awarded the prestigious title of best single malt in the world and impossible to find. At around $140 a shot, we only enjoyed it’s aromas (which were delightful).
We noted down the more affordable bottles that we would consider for enjoying at home, the Sherry Tullibardine 500 (retails $100) would be our first pick. Both the Hibiki blend and the Black Art are over the $200 mark which is a bit over our budget for a bottle.
I would totally come here again and recommend the ribs and the whiskey tasting. The service for both dinner and our whiskey tasting was warm yet profession and absolutely Impeccable. Everything throughout the evening was explained in detail but not over the top or at all patronising.
To find out more or to check out their menu or book a whiskey tasting, visit www.thejefferson.co.nz
We spontaneously added two extra stops to our evening, both just blink away on Fort Street: dessert at Miann and another cocktail at Rich Heart next door where our friend Laura mixed us a special Happy Anniversary cocktail. Like the most decadent progressive dinner, we treated ourselves to a portion of what Auckland has to offer and had a great time. Here’s to many more delicious years.
Flavours you’ve grown to love
I haven’t always loved whiskey and it’s one of those spirits that has grown on me over time. I suspect that the whiskey I would have tried in my younger years would still make me cringe. Whiskey can be a fine thing to behold and both The Koala and I were interested in broadening our whiskey horizons.
If I had to pinpoint the moment the whiskey seed was sown, I would credit it to our Irish bartending flatmate, who also happened to be the MC at our wedding, 7 years ago. We drank a lot of Jameson in those days and better bottles on special occasions. I’ve had a few really great memories that involve whiskey and I really just love sharing nice bottle with a few close friends.
This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage bloggers to try new food related things.
This month’s host is Jordan from Vermilion Red and the theme this month is FLAVOURS YOU’VE GROWN TO LOVE.
If you have a blog and you are eating or cooking something new this month, click below to join. More information here.