Where to Go For A Gin Cocktail in Christchurch This February

A bar man making a gin cocktail at the counter inside Gin Gin Christchurch.

Is that holiday vibe starting to feel like it was long ago? Are the work days stretching ahead of you with no light at the end of the tunnel? Well, think again. Thanks to East Imperial, we’ve got just what you need to take after-work drinks and weekend days to the next level… it’s the Gin Jubilee!

Words by: Julia Rutherford

Photos by: Nancy Zhou

Taking over the country from the 3rd of February, Gin Jubilee is a festival like no other, celebrating 24 of the world’s best gins and featuring East Imperial’s range of premium tonic waters. We’re talking bespoke cocktails by some of the country’s best and brightest mixologists at your favourite bars and restaurants, pop-up events and the jubilee culminates in an Extravaganza highlighting the best of the best.

In Christchurch, our hospitality scene continues to grow and prosper with the ongoing central city rebuild. Alongside some of the city's longstanding institutions, some relatively new players on the scene are helping to establish a new identity and nightlife in Ōtautahi that we can all be proud of. The East Imperial Gin Jubilee is the perfect opportunity for the city’s bartenders and drinks specialists to think outside the box and let their imaginations run wild. From creations with historical context to a breakfast brunch take on things and everything in between, some insanely delicious drinks are to be sampled.

So, if you’re out and about around Christchurch and further south during the festival, take the plunge and get amongst these special tipples. You can even be in to win spot prizes each week simply for snapping your favourite participating cocktail and sharing it on your socials. For all the details, head to www.gin-jubilee.com/vote. Now your toughest decision will be where to head first, so we’ve done some of the hard work for you and narrowed down some top picks!

'Ford Austin' at Austin Club

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161 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

The Austin Club takes its customers back in time with its speakeasy, prohibition-style atmosphere - you even need a secret password to enter. Once you make your way down into this dimly-lit bar evoking a bygone era, you have to try their Ford Austin cocktail. Working to bring out the very best botanical and floral notes from the Fords Gin they are using, pairing this with the bright citrussy Yuzu Tonic from East Imperial and adding in jasmine and raspberry leaf to the mix - it’s a drink that will lighten up all your senses.

A female hand holding the pancake and tonic cocktail at Miro.

'Pancake & Tonic' at Miro

Going out for breakfast or a long leisurely weekend brunch, destinations don’t get any better in Christchurch than Miro on Oxford Terrace. The dishes here are renowned for their creative flair, and they are no strangers to serving up a few breakfast cocktails. For their entry in the Gin Jubilee, their Pancake & Tonic cocktail is inspired by classic American pancakes and what an inspired choice! Combining vanilla-infused Four Pillars Gin with East Imperial Tonic Water, caramel syrup and coffee bitters, this delightful drink is even garnished with a mini pancake and some bacon - yum, yum, yum!

'Yuzu Yuzu' at gin gin

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4 New Regent Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

If there’s anywhere in town that knows their gin, it is, of course, gin gin on New Regent Street. With welcoming pops of colour, an atmosphere that can’t be beaten and over 100 different gin varietals at the bar, we trust that a lot of thought and consideration went into the cocktail they are entering in the Gin Jubilee.

In reference to their own name, their drink is called Yuzu Yuzu and also reflects the double usage of the incredible citrus flavour of yuzu. With Four Pillars Fresh Yuzu Gin and East Imperial Yuzu Tonic Water as the heroes, they are well supported by a housemade tincture of honey, soy and lavender. This is a cocktail not to be missed, so make sure you visit gin gin during the Jubilee!

'Grandma’s Blackberry Gin' at Fiddlesticks

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Corner of Worcester Boulevard &, Montreal Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Across the road from the Arts Centre, Fiddlesticks is a popular bistro, welcoming everyone from the after-work drinks crowd through to the weekend wanderer. Grandma’s Blackberry Gin is their bespoke cocktail, and it has a personal connection to one of the Fiddlesticks team members. Honouring childhood memories of holidays in Dublin with Grandma, picking blackberries and making jam and gin. So this drink comes together by using blackberry-infused Hayman’s Gin and East Imperial Old World Tonic Water, alongside lemon juice and thyme syrup. A well-rounded combination with bursts of flavour. 

 

'Sailor’s Orders' at The Craft Embassy

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The Terrace Level One/126 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

With some of the best views along the Terrace, The Craft Embassy is a popular watering hole with locals and visitors to the city alike. Known for their range of craft beers on offer, the team here can also be relied upon to mix up a darn good cocktail. Their entry into the Gin Jubilee, Sailor’s Orders, is no exception, and they’ve chosen to highlight the historical significance of how sailors in the navy helped to spread the popularity of the gin and tonic back in the day. With the addition of lemon juice to a G&T, this boost of vitamin C was said to ward off scurvy - a common risk for sailors at sea and so The Craft Embassy’s cocktail is a homage to this. Using Lighthouse Gin with East Imperial’s Yuzu Tonic Water, a lemon sherbet rim, and orange peel garnish, you’ve covered your vitamin C needs.

Wild Card Entry: 'Teeteetu' at Woof!, Dunedin

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368 Moray Place (corner Lower, Stuart Street, Central Dunedin, Dunedin

If you find yourself in Dunedin during the Jubilee, do yourself a favour and head into Woof! The warm and welcoming environment here makes you instantly feel at home, and they can be relied upon to produce some killer cocktails. Their entry, Teeteetu, honours summers of years gone by and utilises Scapegrace’s Black Gin. With a flavour profile including saffron and liquorice, the drink is enhanced with East Imperial Tonic Water, spice-infused sugar syrup and Firorente Elderflower Liqueur. It’s aromatic. It’s nostalgic, it’s competition-worthy.

Wild Card Entry: 'Blanc Fizz' at Balmac No.7, Dunedin

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7 Balmacewen Road, Maori Hill, Dunedin

Another Dunedin contender is Balmac No.7, a neighbourhood bistro found in Māori Hill that has a reputation for high-quality service, food and atmosphere. Blanc Fizz is their bespoke Gin Jubilee cocktail and it celebrates the classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc flavour profile of Strange Nature Gin. East Imperial’s Grapefruit Soda and a sweet hit from some grapes enhance the citrus and passionfruit notes of the gin. This is summer in a fizzy glass and, you’ll want them to keep it on the menu permanently!

Wild Card Entry: 'Timo Rosmarino' at Esplanade, Dunedin

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250 Forbury Road, Saint Clair, Dunedin

Esplanade in the seaside suburb of Saint Clair, has some of the best views in Dunedin, looking out across the water. Italian-inspired fare is the name of the game on the food menu at Esplanade and they have chosen to go down this same path with their Gin Jubilee entry. Timo Rosmarino combines Four Pillars Olive Gin with East Imperial Grapefruit soda, lemon, rosemary and thyme. They call it a journey of the Italian palate and these flavours instantly transport you to a warm Mediterranean day.

Wild Card Entry: 'Rifters Reward' at Slow Cuts, Arrowtown

46-50 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown

Head inland from Dunedin to Central Otago and make sure you stop at Slow Cuts in Arrowtown. As can be gleaned from the name, this restaurant is all about slow cooking and elevated comfort food at its best. Their Rifters Reward cocktail for the Gin Jubilee draws inspiration from the rich history of the area and the incredible and abundant local produce. Appropriately using Rifters Gin and pairing it with the warm notes of East Imperial’s Old World Tonic Water. The cocktail is brightened with a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice and honey and thyme pearls, which represents the elusive golden nuggets searched for in the Arrowtown river.

Wild Card Entry: 'The Pergion' at Cardrona Distillery, Wānaka

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2125 Cardrona Valley Road, Wānaka

We couldn’t be talking about gin without mentioning Cardrona Distillery, a small batch operation that has made a big impact on the spirit world in New Zealand. Only the finest ingredients go into the production of their gin (and indeed all their spirits), and you can taste this on your palate. Cardrona Distillery’s entry in the Gin Jubilee, The Pergion, uses The Source Gin, an award-winning single malt with notes of locally foraged rosehip, traditional juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon and orange zest. This gin is allowed to sing in the cocktail, accompanied by East Imperial Yuzu Tonic Water and a Salted Elderflower Oleo Saccharum (citrusy sugar syrup). This is a drink you won’t soon forget, and it is well worth the trip to enjoy it.

This is a sponsored article in partnership with East Imperial and Gin Jubilee. 

A big shoutout to these gins for teaming up with East Imperial and making the Gin Jubilee possible! Sandymount, Roots, Cardrona, Scapegrace, Rifters, Strange Nature, Malfy, Hayman’s, The Botanist, Four Pillars and Light House.

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

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If you’re feeling grumpy or a little blue, a visit to Mind Your Temper is sure to lighten your mood.

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Not far from the township of Akaroa (walking distance if you’re really game), lies an idyllic haven of regenerating native bush nestled in the wild south east corner...

Tūranga

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It’s not often that grand designs are plucked from the mind’s eye and brought to life. At Tūranga they are, every day.

Seven Dining

The dining room interior with people dining at Seven, Christchurch.
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Take the elevator to Level 7 of the Muse Art Hotel in Christchurch, and from there you’ll be ushered into the elegant restaurant, Seven.