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Author: Peter Walker

Canterbury’s market: A vibrant, exciting hub


Have you been to Riverside Market yet? Given its meteoric popularity and the numbers already through the doors, you could be forgiven for thinking you are in a minority if you haven’t.

 

L-R RICHARD PEEBLES, KRIS INGLIS AND MIKE PERCASKY

 

Following a ‘soft’ opening in late September, on 5 October this extraordinary new feature of the CBD was officially opened. Richard Peebles, along with co-investors Mike Percasky and Kris Inglis, and guest speakers, MP for Wigram Dr. Megan Woods and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, declared the five-year-long project open for business.

Riverside Market, overlooking The Avon and The Bridge of Remembrance, is a chic collection of eateries, retail outlets, and with the vibrancy of farmer’s market stalls, brings to you the freshest local produce, meats, seafood, baked goods and so much more!

“We want this to be Canterbury’s market,” says Riverside General Manager Mike Fisher. “It will be a community gathering place, a hive of activity, and a celebration of the diversity of Christchurch.”

 

A hive of activity it is! From the moment you step inside you feel the buzz of a busy street market and smell the aromas of freshly baked, cooked, and prepared foods of every type imaginable.

Inside, the design leads you through a rustic network of stalls featuring the warmth of natural timbers and the strength of iron, elegantly intertwined to produce an industrial heritage vibe. The use of recycled materials – rimu, bricks, salvaged windows, even 100-year-old wallpaper – culminates with the installation of two faces of the now iconic Christchurch Railway Station clock that froze in time at 4.36am on September 4, 2010.

 

There are three levels of activity, with multiple entry points from Cashel Street, Oxford Terrace, and Lichfield Street. With more to come, the ground floor is a cornucopia of delicacies, treats, meals, beverages and foods, cheeses, sauces and more and more and more!

Dining space is provided on three levels, including outdoors, with even more eateries to open.

More than 70 market stalls, food outlets, retail boutiques, bars and restaurants bring you the best of the best. Small business owners – micro artisan producers – have the opportunity so sell their products via The Riverside Collective – a space shared by those who may not be able, financially or time-wise, to rent full time in the permanent stalls.

 

“It’s an incredibly amazing idea,” says Sarah Page, owner of Vegan Deli Diva (www.vegandelidiva.com). Her artisan cheeses and deli products – handmade, organic, dairy, plant based, and wheat and GMO free – are available alongside other local producers such as The Brothers Green, Spicy Boys, Kākāriki Kitchen and more.

On the street level outside (on Oxford Terrace), there is al fresco eating with many retailers having open frontages, including Le Panier, Dimitri’s, and summertime favourite Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream!

See all the new additions at www.riverside.nz. The dream of Riverside Market as a vibrant, exciting hub has already come true. From fresh produce, fish and cured meats to donuts, crêpes, a sushi train and even a kitchen school, Riverside Market will be the place to go in the CBD this summer!

 


 

Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day: Behind the scenes


On Tuesday 12 November, more than 20,000 people will descend on Addington Raceway which plays prestigious host to the 116th Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day. But for the team at Addington, the preparation begins in February and ramps up in May each year. Peter Walker caught up with some of the team and was blown away by the magnitude of the event.

 

 

 

Facilities Manager Tim Rattray has been involved with Addington Raceway since 1973. If you’re sitting on a chair at a table, dancing in front of a stage, or relaxing in a marquee, Tim makes it happen. Using ‘tried and tested’ processes and suppliers, Tim is in charge of making sure 700 extra tables and 4,000 chairs are delivered and set up. Around 400 toilets are sourced, delivered, and maintained according to the Cup Week pack-in schedule.

Tim and his team oversee the order and placement of things such as speakers, stages, fridges, fences, china, cutlery and linen, ovens, TV screens and a host of other things that go on behind the scenes to make the magic of the day happen. They also secure and manage 250-300 security staff.

 

The spectacular surroundings of the grounds are all overseen by Facilities & Property Manager John Denton and his team. They make sure that the roses bloom, the grass is perfectly mowed, and the racetrack is prepped to ensure records can be broken. This is all done in schedule with Tim’s team to ensure everything is timed accordingly, and ensures marquees, for example, are set up the day after the lawns have been mowed.

Overseeing the sale and delivery of hospitality packages, where attention to detail is key, is done by Joanne McMaster, Senior Event Consultant. Joanne and her team will host 4,000 plus guests, making sure they are fed and entertained in spectacular settings, most of which are temporary marquees. This year will see a complete refresh of the areas with bright colour and floral arrangements everywhere. Many companies take advantage of the hospitality packages to treat staff and clients. Hydroflow is Joanne’s biggest hospitality client and they have been guests at Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day celebrations for over 20 years!

 

Feeding 20,000 plus people in eight hours is a pretty big task, one which falls on the shoulders of Executive Chef Graeme Jones. With more than 80 staff, Graeme plans menus months in advance, secures the best products – often in the hundreds of kilos – all to be delivered with meticulous timing in the weeks, days and hours before hitting the tables. The variety is staggering – from food trucks in The Edge Public Village to fabulous cuisine in vast quantities being prepped in dozens of kitchens course-wide.

Add to all this The Crossing Fashion Starts Here Competition, bands and musicians, international and local media, photographers and VIPs, all of whom need to be organised and looked after, and it takes an army of people to pull off. On 12 November, spare a thought for the stars behind the scenes who make the magic happen.

 

 

#letscelebrate
#NZcup2019

 

 

 

 


 

Historic buildings’ revolutionary twist


Two of Christchurch’s oldest, cherished buildings are set to take on a revolutionary twist; home to New Zealand’s first cannabis social enterprise.

 

 

Whakamana, the New Zealand Institute of Cannabis Education, Research and Development, will be based in the enchanting Shands Emporium – the city’s oldest commercial wooden building – and also the historic Trinity Church. Restored by the Christchurch Historic Trust, the buildings sit adjacent on the Worcester and Manchester Street corner.

Hemp environmentalist Michael Mayell, founder of Cookie Time, Nutrient Rescue and Drinkable Rivers, has teamed up with veteran cannabis educator Abe Gray, after meeting at the inaugural iHemp Summit in Wellington last year.

Whakamana will incorporate an interactive world-class cannabis museum and education centre, a hemp food café and restaurant, an alcohol-free plant-medicine shot bar, a hemp emporium – and, subject to the outcome of the 2020 cannabis referendum, a cannabis dispensary.

The facilities will be built once a $1 million PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign is completed. Social entrepreneur Michael Mayell is excited by the venture. “This will be a facility that Christchurch will be proud of, an avant-garde attraction for locals and tourists alike – cannabis tourism is on the rise,” he says.

Advocating a shift from cows to cannabis for Drinkable Rivers, Michael’s mission is to enable every Kiwi to eat three tablespoons of hemp seeds daily for health, the environment and the economy. “Hemp – low THC cannabis – really matters for New Zealand.”

Abe Gray, Botanist and Science Communicator with 20 years’ cannabis industry experience, established Dunedin’s Whakamana Cannabis Museum in 2013. He says he is confident of the venture’s success. “The demand for cannabis education experiences is exploding globally as this industry expands exponentially and New Zealand is no exception,” he says.

“Cannabis is widely misunderstood in New Zealand. People forget that it has been used in some cultures for thousands of years. It used to be the number one industrial crop globally, and was legal in this country less than a hundred years ago.”

Whakamana will also establish a public Cannabis Education Centre of Excellence, with freely available educational, fun experiences about cannabis ‘plant power’ and pioneering uses for cannabis as a viable, sustainable food and fibre source. The medical profession will have access to cutting-edge research and accredited courses for knowledge advancement in medicinal cannabis use.

Michael and Abe have begun leasing Shand’s for five months as a base for their PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign, holding information and cannabis educational evenings with a different focus each night. This is to raise $1 million or more to transform Trinity Church into the cannabis educational experience.

Once funds have been raised, the Trinity building reinstatement for the café, shot bar and emporium can then open.

Whakamana’s social purpose is to improve lives and restore the planet through plant power – to be the trusted source of cannabis education, research and development.

Michael and Abe express immense gratitude to the trustees of the Christchurch Historic Trust for their wonderful job restoring the landmarks, and say their history will be acknowledged, with a new life as an institute dedicated to earth’s most versatile vegetable – a befitting next chapter for these 150-year-old icons.

For event information, visit cannabisinstitute.ac.nz or www.facebook.com/CannabisMuseum/.

 

 


 

Making a sustainable statement


When Christchurch artist Joel Hart created the mural for a new café in Rangiora three years ago, a name for the café literally emerged from the artwork. So, ‘Fools of Desire’ was born, as was the next chapter of the fantastic hospitality journey – 12 years and counting – Elisa Leach and partner, and also co-owner, Karl Horwarth have been on.

 

 

To say Fools of Desire is unique is an understatement. Innovative, fun, eclectic, diverse, exciting – these are a few words that come to mind while sipping a ‘Bullet Proof Coffee’ – a double shot espresso blended with Karikaas butter and coconut oil.

Locally sourced, organic and healthy ingredients, produce and baked goods all flow from the core values that are deeply important to Elisa. Connection and sustainability underpin everything she does and provides. “Connection with guests, with the community is really important to me,” she says. “We focus on our local suppliers, so we get as much as we can of organic coffee, tea and produce, so that it is aligned with being light on the planet.”

That’s been the Fools of Desire philosophy for the three years it’s been open. Utilising solar energy, aiming to be zero waste by using recyclable and compostable materials, sourcing local beers and ciders, driving the ‘plastic straw-free Rangiora’ movement and housing a thriving bee hive – and using the honey in some dishes – inside the café are just some of the things Elisa and the team are doing to aid the environment.

Another level of sustainability is the consideration of alternative protein sources – good for humans and good for the planet. Hence, in addition to the vast array of vegetarian, vegan, keto, and traditional offerings on the menu, you will find locusts. They’re not compulsory, of course, but they are available for those who want to test their boundaries. “We really want to start a conversation with people about sustainable protein,” Elisa says.

It’s a global conversation. The UN says there are more than 1900 edible insect species on the planet. Locusts and ants are favourites. According to National Geographic, “stinkbugs add an apple flavour to sauces and are a valuable source of iodine.”

“We have some huhu grubs in the freezer,” Elisa says with a grin.

Will they and more insects end up on the menu?

“You never know. Maybe. Probably.”

 


 

A Sustainable Hempire


“Hemp seeds are safe to eat, nutritious, and do not have a psychoactive effect,” said Food Safety Minister, the Honourable Damien O’Connor, in a Beehive press release in November 2018, regarding changes made to the regulations controlling the production and sale of hemp seed food products.

 

 

This was no surprise to those who know the history and benefits of the plant that US President George Washington wanted “planted everywhere”. And good news to those on the cutting edge of an imminent revolution. One such revolutionary is Pharmacist Brendon McIntosh, Kaiwhakahaere of Plant Based NZ, the parent body of several brands with a growing inventory.

During post-graduate studies into nutritional and environmental medicines, Brendon was introduced to the benefits of hemp as a food source and the base of a multitude of products. After his studies concluded, he teamed up with Brad Lake, whose background is in rural banking. He’s seen firsthand the evolution and the limitations of the agriculture industry in New Zealand. He also recognises what the future will look like.

“Synthetic foods coming through, transition to plant-based diets, people moving away from high-animal-product diets; New Zealand needs to be prepared. We can’t pretend what we’ve been doing for the last hundred years is going to work for the next hundred years.”

Initially, Brendon and Brad sold hemp seed oil and protein powders at local markets. Under the banner of ‘The Brothers Green’, they are now available in New World supermarkets. A range of hemp seed-based skincare products is available nationwide in pharmacies, under the brand ‘Kōaka’, which loosely translates into ‘hemp’ in Te Reo Māori.

 

Hemp fibre has been widely used for a variety of products for thousands of years – paper, jewellery, rope and sails in the age of sailing ships, animal bedding, building materials, and latterly in the production of cars, biofuels, purification systems, and, of course, clothing.

The addition of an apparel line was a natural progression for company. Enter Sustainable Fashion Designer Eden Sloss. “Hemp is the most sustainable crop. It’s the strongest natural fibre we can grow for textiles,” she says.

The ‘Original Canvas’ brand is Eden’s baby. Short and long sleeve tees and hoodies so far, expansion is guaranteed. She’s been to China (the largest producer of hemp fabrics) recently, sourcing ethically grown and produced materials; a catalogue is in production and more retail outlets are buying into the ethos that sustainable is the way of the future.

 

“We’re trying to make it more accessible,” she says, “because there is demand and it’s growing”. Check out @originalcanvas_nz on Instagram.

Winning the Foodstarter Award, a competition to find New Zealand’s most innovative food product, driven primarily by Foodstuffs South Island and The Ministry of Awesome, has allowed The Brothers Green to take the business to the next level. The industry expertise and promotion from the award will see the launch of the Hempy Bar, a healthy hemp-based snack bar for kids. Watch New World supermarkets for that in September.

Brendon, Eden, Brad and the team are on the cusp of a hemp-based revolution and it’s about to explode. “We’re building a sustainable hempire,” Eden says.

 


 

Superhosts on scooters

Superhosts on scooters


There are many sights to see in Christchurch and as many ways to see them.

 

Superhosts on scooters

 

The latest way is an initiative by bffs Julia Malley and Julia Strelou. Friends, work colleagues, and now tourism entrepreneurs, they have teamed up to provide guided tours of some of the spots of interest in the CBD. The twist: they and their guests are all riding Lime scooters.

It’s guaranteed to be an adrenaline-filled, exciting rush of full on entertainment, a thrill such as you have never before experienced. And that’s just the first 60 seconds of meeting the two Julias, long before you get anywhere near a scooter. Young, hip, articulate, passionate, bubbly, engaging and super funny, both the Julias are witty, cheeky and fun to be around. Their energy is infectious, and that’s the spirit they bring to their tours of the city.

Julia M is a Christchurch girl. She lived here through the quakes and knows the city, pre and post-earthquake, well. She works in media and is world-famous in Christchurch for being one of the city’s brides in the NZ version of Married at First Sight. She is an Airbnb Superhost, and that’s what led her to establish the ‘Rebuild Tour’.

Julia S hails from Australia, but is also now a Christchurch denizen. She is in the media business too and, if it’s possible to quantify, is the more reserved of the two. But not by much. “Julia and I are relationship builders,” she says. “If you are going to hang out with us you will have a laugh and a good time.”

As an Airbnb Superhost, Julia M added the Rebuild Tour as an Airbnb Experience – activities for Airbnb guests designed by hosts aimed at immersing guests in their unique world.
“Guests love the Lime scooters,” she says, “so why not use them to do guided tours? There’s nothing like that in New Zealand.”

The two take up to ten guests (non-Airbnb guests, too), each on their own scooter, to various spots around the CBD, and offer some behind the scenes information. While having fun, they are mindful of the respect needed at places such as the CTV site, 185 Chairs (a particular favourite site of guests), and other post-quake landmarks. Guests are reminded of the devastation, to both landscape and life, the city suffered.
“We focus on what happened after the quakes, but we also have a positive spin because it’s also about the regeneration of the city,” Julia S says.

They also visit Margaret Mahy playground to play, various street art projects and have an interactive experience painting their own street art at the Giant Spray Cans on the corner of Manchester and Lichfield streets.

Some of the city’s ‘darker’ spots get a mention too, and perhaps a visit. ‘Dark tourism’ ventures are popular worldwide and the Julias offer some insights to visitors into a little bit of Christchurch’s underbelly (when it’s appropriate), such as the city’s red light district and McLean’s Mansion on Manchester street. They may even venture some speculation about whether or not it is haunted.

Says one recent scooter tour participant: “It’s been nothing but fun!”

 


Safety conscious, informative, interactive, sometimes a little bit naughty and sure to be a fantastic time, download the Lime app and call 027 448 0162, or visit www.chchlimescootertours.co.nz.


 

What's in the building?

What’s in the building?


Peter Walker checks out the architectural renaissance taking place in the central city and what we can expect to find in these pockets of awesome.

 

What's in the building?

 

You can’t possibly miss Deloitte House in your meanderings along the Avon River. With office space filling up down town and the commercial lifeblood of the city flowing again, this spectacular architectural icon was one of the first developments to be completed and has, since 2015, overlooked the completion of many others.

It is an impressive structure, home to the Christchurch offices of the accounting and professional services network, as well as firms such as Simpson Grierson, Forsyth Barr, QBE Insurance, the Decipher Group and Tailorspace, and the Ben Gough Family Office, among others.

On the ground floor is embattled, and now closed, eatery Bamboozle – watch this space – whose lesser infamous neighbour is Johnny Sausage, a neat little coffee and bagel joint slash pizzeria, inspired by New York mobster John ‘Johnny Sausage’ Barbato.

Just along the lane is the Whet Drinking Room. Open 4 ‘til late Tuesday through Saturday, it is “an exquisite curation of gin, whisky and craft beer”, and boasts a pretty good looking menu, too.
On the opposite side of the Avon, The Terrace continues to expand with food, drink and nightlife venues tucked into dark, intimate corners.

Paddy’s and The Little Fiddle have takeaway or eat-in carvery foods and an entertaining Irish pub scene. Across Oxford Lane is the Bangalore Polo Club, “home of the infamous Bangalore Badgers and the most unique hospitality experience this side of the equator” according to its Facebook page.

 

What's in the building?

 

On the corner of Cashel and Oxford, under the Westpac logo, is Hawker & Roll, Malaysian inspired street food with “vibrant and authentic flavours”. Next door to that is Amazonita, a “refreshing gastronomic paradise” with a dash of Mediterranean influence.

This is the tip of the city’s burgeoning culinary iceberg. New Regent Street continues to offer more and more eating and drinking options, and the Street Food Market in Cathedral Square every Friday is very popular. With food stalls such as Nanny’s Food Truck, Kung-Fu Dumpling, and the Vagabond Chefs, one can only hope the food is as good as the names (hint: it is!).

North of the CBD, at 76 Victoria Street, is the home of Craigs Investment Partners. It is also the offices of lawyers Rhodes & Co., Rockwell Automation, EQI Global, Olympic Software and Aspiring Asset Management.

On the ground floor, looking out onto the busy intersection, is Khao San Road and Spice Paragon, Thai style cocktails and cuisine. On the corners of the building are Apollo Power Yoga (Salisbury Street) and, on the other side, arguably the most unique function venue, Beam Gallery. As the name hints, it’s a massive collection of Jim Beam decanters, memorabilia and collectibles. It’s by appointment only, so have a look at www.beamgallery.nz.

Tucked in behind the Craigs building is Casamassima Italian Fare, “real Italian” foods, coffee, wine and products. Craft beers, too! The future of food in the CBD is looking pretty good. When are you heading down town to eat next?

 


 

Wigram

Mix of old & new: Wigram


Wigram is expanding, not only culturally and historically, but geographically too. Awatea Green, a new living place, offers shared green spaces, playgrounds, meandering pathways and cycle lanes to take you all the way to the city. Wigram Primary School’s new campus is open and exciting. New restaurants, retail outlets and community services are operating and new housing is popping up everywhere.

 

Wigram

 

The Ngāi Tahu vision for Wigram was that it be ‘more than a residential subdivision’; the idea that it be a vibrant community, including the social infrastructure required to create it, is being fulfilled.
Wigram is a sophisticated confluence of old and new. While reinvigorating the area with lots of sparkly new things, the designers were careful to respect the deep history that dates back over a hundred years in the modern era and for more than a millennium of indigenous activity.

On the relatively ‘new’ side of the slate (it’s been open a year and a half) is The Good Home, a gastropub that tries hard to provide the feeling of home for diners – and succeeds. With spaces to feel at ease in – whether bar leaners to watch the footy with friends, booths for the family, or comfy leather chairs upstairs with a book – and a menu to suit everyone, The Good Home really does feel like home.

 

Wigram

On the ‘old’ side is Wigram Base Hotel, a wedding, conference and event venue. Built in 1938 to be the RNZAF Base Wigram Officer’s Mess, today it maintains much of the original décor. You can literally smell the history in the walls of the ballroom, the billiard room, or the anteroom. With a selection of venues for weddings, including the quaint St. Mark’s Chapel, and conferences, Wigram Base Hotel is tucked into pretty gardens on Henry Wigram Drive. The Harvard Bar and Café, on the same site, is a quiet, comfortable local with an all-day menu and indoor and outdoor dining.

Many local initiatives foster the community spirit intended in the original vision. Language classes, recreational activities, fundraisers and more. The Food Resilience Network, in conjunction with the CCC, will host a screening of locally made documentary Edible Paradise. On April 10 at the Air Force Museum, it is for residents who are keen on creating an edible component to the local landscape. See the FRN Facebook page for more details.

 

Wigram

The Air Force Museum of New Zealand is a spectacular resource that, despite a high ranking on TripAdvisor’s ‘Things to do in Christchurch’ (#3!), many locals do not take advantage of. It is an excellent record of NZ’s military aviation history. There is so much to see and do; it’s a great afternoon, or a day, for the kids and grownups. It’s open from 10am until 5pm daily and it’s free!

Late last year (officially October 2018), Archives NZ opened its new Christchurch Regional Office on Harvard Avenue in Wigram. The new facility is “designed to place primary attention on the secure storage and environmental protection of valuable archives”, including government documents, maps, paintings, photographs and more.



 

Head North for Valentine’s Day

Head North for Valentine’s Day


Whether glamping in the wilds near Cheviot, fine dining in Rangiora, or a day picnicking at the Ashley River, the countryside north of the Waimakariri offers a wealth of activities, sights and fun, no matter what you like getting up to.

 

Head North for Valentine’s Day

 

With the celebration of Valentine’s Day upon us, for those who have yet to make plans to do something special on the day, or even the weekend following, here are just a few ideas that are well worth the trip north. Gifts for Valentine’s Day, birthdays or any special occasion, there are too many standout sources to list, but there are a few world famous in Canterbury stores well worth a mention. Mumma T Trading Lounge in Amberley offers a vast mix of old and new collectibles, including new and retro clothing, homewares, curios, furniture, bodycare products, artworks and antiques.

Ruby 6 is just around the corner with a selection of fashion and accessories, handcrafted ceramics and art, toys and books for children. On route 72 to Oxford is an emporium in the truest sense of the title. A spectacular array of homewares, art, jewellery, clothing, homeopathic products, kitchen gadgets, leadlight lamps, candles, treasures for the garden, NZ made leather goods, wrought iron art and glassware, beautiful figurines, handbags, scarves and more.

Not only is it an amazing shop to spend an easy hour or two in, it’s a world class café and bar. “It’s a dining destination,” says Steve Thomson who owns the Route 72 Café Bar Emporium in Cust with his wife Annette. With fantastic views from the upstairs dining room and a delicious breakfast lunch and dinner menu, Route 72 is perfect for that intimate, special meal. Reservations are recommended.

If off the beaten track appeals, Lemongrass Thai Restaurant in Loburn has a delicious menu and just for Valentine’s Day has prepared an exquisite dessert of Drambuie panna cotta with strawberries and chocolate. Bookings are essential.
Cruisy Days Diner, a 50s themed diner in Oxford offers half priced breakfasts on Thursdays. Valentine’s Day is a Thursday – just sayin’.

When it comes to Valentine’s Day there is nothing more romantic than a night away with your loved one. Dotted throughout the region are a multitude of high quality accommodation destinations – campgrounds, hotels, motels, farmstays, retreats, huts and cabins. One popular getaway is the Hurunui River Retreat. Nestled into a peaceful rural valley are two fully contained cottages close to the Hurunui River for swimming and fishing.

Chill out during the day, enjoy nearby vineyards and restaurants and at night relax in the outside tub taking in the spectacular sky and listening to the frogs. The Tiromoana Bush Walkway is one of many walks in the area, and offers a fantastic hiking experience for all ages and abilities. Te Ara Matairangi boasts a new coastal viewing platform and ceremonial pou and is a must visit if long, easy walks are on your to-do list.

 



 

The secret’s out!

The secret’s out! Alcohol’s hidden secrets


At the height of the 1920s prohibition era, when the possession, purchase and consumption of alcohol in the US was illegal, there were as many as a hundred thousand illicit booze joints in New York alone!

 

The secret’s out!

 

Speakeasies, as they came to be known – because they were only spoken of quietly – sprang up in response. People wanted to drink alcohol and entrepreneurial types, many with ties to organised crime, established secret bars and lounges whose location was carefully guarded. In hidden rooms, basements or attics, these concealed saloons flourished. Word of mouth and secret passwords or handshakes were often the only way to get in.

Non-descript and elusive, speakeasies broke down social barriers between races, men and women, rich and poor. They introduced jazz music to new audiences. New ways of imbibing alcohol were invented. Some say the cocktail was revolutionised in the speakeasies as bartenders tried various ways to mask the poor quality, cheap alcohol some of them were selling, to make it more palatable.

Prohibition ended in 1933 and speakeasies largely either disappeared or returned to business as usual in most states (Mississippi enforced prohibition until 1966!). The temperance movement attempted to get prohibition established in New Zealand in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but generally failed. Jump forward to the 21st century where the night-life and alcohol industries are still very well established in western culture and the continual quest for the different has seen a resurgence in popularity of cocktail bars styled after the speakeasies of American history.

Just what makes a booze joint a speakeasy these days is a matter of hot debate. There seems to be some agreement however, on the inconspicuous, even hard to find, location and a serious cocktail programme to satisfy the punters. With social media, inconspicuous may be a hard ask; a line-up of spectacular cocktails is somewhat easier. Littered throughout Christchurch, a number of speakeasy style lounges are very popular, each with its own distinct vibe. Some are easier to find than others. For those already in the know, that drycleaners is literally just a front. Go through it to a sophisticated, seated-service, opium den themed cocktail lounge serving exotics such as the Opium Sour and Disturbance.

That bookshelf? Yep. Secret entrance. Behind it, a dimly lit, opulent cocktail bar where you can imbibe such classics as The Manhattan, or specialties such as Mystery of Suite 12.  Another very popular inner city social club is “completely dedicated to, and somewhat obsessed with, the craft of the cocktail,” and there’s a sneaky little cocktail bar in the heart of Riccarton. Not everyone is a fan, however. Harrison Jacobs, in a piece for Business Insider says “there is no trend in nightlife culture that has more outlived its welcome than the speakeasy bar.

“No way!” says one Christchurch speakeasy manager. “Not true at all.” The speakeasy is alive and well, and in fact immensely popular. “The numbers don’t lie.” If you are looking for a great night out, or a unique private venue, fire up the google machine or ask around. You never know what you may find in some of those hidden rooms behind discreet doorways or bookshelves.