The Jefferson


Imperial Building,
Fort Lane


Mon, Tues, Sat
4pm - late
Wed - Fri
12pm - late

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It’s easy to miss because the door is right beside the gaping entrance of Imperial Lane, but when I was marching down Fort Lane on Saturday night I noticed a security guard out the front, so I got lucky. The Jefferson is located in the rabbit warren of concrete tunnels and spaces beneath the Imperial Building. The last time I was down there was for A Weird Night Out, when it was completely bare and the team at Celery Productions had created mad lighting effects and silent discos in the cold rooms. The space is totally transformed now, all plush and richly coloured, all low light and row upon row of bottles filled with glorious amber liquid.

The Jefferson is a whiskey bar, and it’s probably the best one in town. I feel safe in saying that because there are over 500 different types of whiskey and bourbon on offer, and it wasn’t easy to get them. Owner Ofir Yudilevich explained that you can only easily source around 100 whiskeys in New Zealand, the rest he had to source directly from overseas. It’s an impressive sight when you walk in the door, the huge bar with all of those golden bottles lined up neatly behind it. This place is not just for whiskey drinkers though, there are cocktails and a small beer and wine list that focuses on all that is small and interesting.

It’s not just for drinkers either, The Jefferson is a full service restaurant serving dinner six nights a week and lunch from Wednesday to Friday. It’s all about ribs here – huge racks of smokey pork ribs, beef short rib with a bourbon glaze, or lamb ribs marinated in apple cider. The staff give you bibs so you can feel free to get messy, although it should be noted there is also a selection of smaller, neater dishes if ribs aren’t time or attire appropriate, think sliders, shepherds pie or prawn cocktails.

It’s a very unique in Auckland, and I am a fan.The thing I like the most about The Jefferson is that Ofir described it as an “adult” bar, a lounge bar, the kind of bar that you can sneak away to any night of the week for a quiet whiskey and a good meal. There will be no queues, no deafening music and no dancefloor. There just aren’t enough places like that in Auckland.