Each week we will be featuring a local bar, pub or club to help boost the Kiwi hospitality industry and encourage customers to get out and explore!

This week, Alastair Walker, owner of Caretaker in Downtown Auckland, gives us an insight into his New York-style cocktail lounge.

How has business been going since New Zealand moved to Alert Level 1? 
It’s actually been surprisingly busy. It’s obviously a worrying time to be a hospitality business but it seems like everyone is keen to get out and about now. People are keen to support their local businesses and after being in lockdown, everyone wants to go out for a cocktail and catch up with their friends and loved ones. 

What have you been doing to encourage customers to come back to your local? 
We put our live music back on right away. It’s on every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night at 9pm. These are bands who have been playing for us for years, so we wanted to support them too. We had them playing even on Level 2 to a half-empty room when we had only half our tables in to allow for social distancing. 

How would you describe the atmosphere of Caretaker? 
It’s been really positive. We are just delighted to be back and all our guests are being so lovely, making sure we feel their support. It’s been really nice.

What is your signature drink?
We don’t really have a signature drink as we just chat with each person about what they enjoy drinking and suggest something for them, so everyone gets something different. We do have some favourites though. At the moment we are loving the Thunder Bird – a combination of our own house spiced rum, fresh lime, Pedro Ximenez sherry and a home-made spicy ginger beer.

Why do you think your local stands out from the crowd? 
The people. We have the most amazing team. We hire on personality first and foremost. We can teach anyone to make a decent drink, teaching someone to be lovely and kind is a much bigger ask. So we choose good people that we want to spend time with, the idea being that if we want to chat with them all night you will too. 

What are your three top tips or being a great bartender?
1. Firstly just be nice to people. Your whole job is about making people feel special and that’s the most important part. 

2. Cocktails only need a few ingredients. Keep it simple. 

3. Never cut corners. Taste EVERYTHING. You are only as good as your worst drink and nothing should ever get to the customer if it isn’t perfect, no matter how busy it is. 

To nominate a local to be featured, email [email protected] or send us a message on social media @theshoutnz!

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