175 Ponsonby Road
(09) 376 4460
Monday - Thursday
5pm - late
Friday - Sunday
3pm - late
Someone once told me that the average shelf life of a bar in this town is one year, which seemed sad and wasteful. Mea culpa defies that trend, an eternally popular, tiny place that succeeds because it excels at being exactly what it says it is – a cocktail bar.
New owners Jason Rosen and Darren Miley are two of the city’s most passionate bartenders, and they do nothing by halves. The cocktail menu here is seasonal and changes each fortnight, with a rotating selection of old classics and contemporary twists. There’s also a blackboard menu of quality whiskeys, and a petite but lovely wine list. If you’re hungry, there is cheese and charcuterie, or fancy toasties made down the road at Mea culpa’s big brother, Revelry.
On the weekend, it’s impossible to get in the door, but if you can get a seat it’s wonderful to watch mea culpa’s team at work, creating masterpieces and schmoozing their regulars, of which there are many. There is something about the atmosphere at mea culpa that makes you feel as if you belong, regardless of if you’ve been once or a dozen times. I like it best on summer weekday evenings when you can secure a seat outside as the sun sets. It’s the kind of place where after work drinks can very easily become a spontaneous night out.
This bar is a treasure for the best reason, what it offers its customers is the very best quality combined with a warm welcome – a magical combination. Many were concerned when it sold early, and suddenly, in 2016, but they need not. With a pro like Darren behind the bar, you can trust that Mea Culpa is still the bar that bartenders go to, which is to say, it’s still one of the best in town.