The boutique Art Deco Masonic Hotel is the jewel in Napier’s jazz-era crown and with its recently renovated cocktail lounge offers a perfect rendezvous when visiting the country, if not the world’s, art deco capital.
Here, Dish editor Vanessa Marshall talks cocktails, libations and all things mixology with the hotel operations manager, Dan Hughes. To shake or to stir? Find out for yourself when booking a high or Devonshire tea, on the last Sunday of each month.
Vanessa: The Art Deco Masonic is a Hawke’s Bay institution – what made you bring back the traditional high Tea?
Dan: "High tea is something that exudes elegance with a little bit of nostalgic fun and that’s exactly what fits with our brand. Whether you’re staying in the Art Deco Masonic Hotel, dining in the Emporium restaurant or taking a cocktail in the lounge, it all produces that little edge of class so is a natural fit."
We love the tipsy tea. Is this influenced by the prohibition-era?
"The tipsy tea is our fun twist on traditional high tea; you are already indulging so why not indulge a little bit more. It’s also a celebration of the fantastic skills of our in-house mixologists. The team love to experiment with new flavours and takes on traditional cocktails. There is a little tip of the hat to prohibition of course - if you need to disguise what you’re drinking why not hide it in an innocent teapot."
What do you love about the bar and restaurant scene in Napier?
"Napier has some of the best chefs and restaurants on offer in New Zealand; our executive chef, Damon Mcginniss, is a 2018 New Zealand Beef and Lamb ambassador. We are so lucky to have great resources from land and sea at our fingertips. The bar scene caters for everyone but isn’t built around a culture of excessive consumption, rather enjoying the drink in front of you and the atmosphere around you."
What should we all be ordering from the menu?
"Well of course you can’t go wrong with a tipsy tea, however the lounge boasts an extensive cocktail list that ticks all the boxes and a rather impressive champagne collection. The opulent design and finish of the interior lends itself to a glass of chilled champagne, expertly made cocktail or back shelf whiskey."
What are your top five cocktails?
"Only five? You can’t go wrong with classics, the clue is in the name but our mixologists have managed to adapt and compliment with a few in house creations. Espresso martini is always a favourite and we do ours with Manuka honey vodka.
The St Germain spritz combines champagne and elderflower which you can never go wrong with. Ladies that Lapsang is an amazing tipsy tea cocktail that uses plum jam infused Campari. Our luxury margarita takes a classic and elevates it to a new level and of course no list would complete without the mojito and ours uses an eight year old rum just to make it that extra bit special."
Shaken or stirred?
"The age-old question. Stirred takes time to build and delivers a built and methodical cocktail that is associated with that a little bit of class. However, sometimes the best way to get the most out of an ingredient is to simply crash them together and release a delicious concoction."
Describe the experience of the Emporium High Tea in three words?
"Elegant, nostalgic and decadent."
To learn more about Emporium – The Lounge or to make a booking, visit their website here.