This gem of a bar offers bespoke cocktails and a space for civilised discourse.
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WHY IS IT THAT COCKTAILS are the cat’s pyjamas right now? The throwback to jazz-age opulence, the hints of Great Gatsby glamour or just that cocktails are so damn decadent? Whatever the reason, Parlour is one of Christchurch’s best spots to perch on a plush velvet couch and sample a classic such as an Old Fashioned or a gin fizz, or try Parlour’s house-made pineapple and coconut sorbet in an elegant pina colada.
Tucked into the Old Government Building (OGB) and with all the trappings of the early 1900s, there’s no more luxurious spot than this, oozing intimacy with its moody lighting, sheer drapes, velvet curtains and marble counters. But it’s not just the décor that sets it apart. Owner Nicholas Inkster explains that Parlour is all about hospitality, experience and theatre. “Mixologists sit with the customers and find out exactly what they like. Then the cocktail is made to order to suit every customer.”
To ensure that the cocktails are tip-top, Nick chooses his staff carefully. “At Parlour we do not hire bartenders. I hire mixologists, who are craftsmen in the trade of bartendering. With these craftsmen behind the bar, the result is not only a cocktail, but an experience of mixology.”
Described as the best room in the house and a space where ladies can go to talk about gentlemen, the house rules set the tone: Gentlemen, no hats please; No fighting, hooting or hollering; Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies. Ladies, if an unknown gentleman speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly and ignore him.
Nick wanted to create a place to socialise respectfully and generate conversation. If you’re stuck for a some chit chat to get the ball rolling but you don’t know your bitters from your shrubs, you might casually mention that mint juleps were originally prescribed as a tonic for stomach ache, or that daiquiri is the name of an iron mine near Santiago de Cuba. (Who knew? Clearly Nick and his team did as there are encyclopaedic notes on the menu!)
Parlour is just one of Nick’s ventures: he is also the driving force behind OGB Bar and Frederick Woodward’s barber shop, and is working on plans for a laundromat to open later this year. As Nick says, “My vision is to open cool venues in old heritage buildings throughout NZ.” /
FIRST, JADE TEMEPARA’S grandfather asked her to plant some potatoes. “No way,” she said, “I’m not going to dig up my lawn.” Then he cajoled her to plant potatoes, then nagged, coaxed, urged and nagged again. Worn down, she eventually planted the potatoes, watched them grow, observed the land and how it reacted. On the day she dug them up, her grandfather turned to her. “Thank you,” he said, “I took these peruperu out of my father’s shed when he passed away. They’re five generations old and I don’t have anyone else to give them to.”
“I only began to understand the importance of seeds then,” Jade explains. “When Māori voyaged we took our people, we took our seeds and took hope that we could go and make somewhere else a new home.”
From this sprouted Jade’s fervour for seed heritage and she now has a collection of 260 different seed lines, second only in New Zealand to Kay Baxter of the Koanga Institute.
Over recent months Jade has had the mammoth task of transplanting some of her heritage plants, tenderly bedding them into the gardens surrounding her new cafe premises. Started 2½ years ago, Jade’s Kākano Cafe and Cookery School has just relocated to Christchurch’s Manchester Street, opening in March 2018 in the One Central precinct. Now that spring is here, around 40 heritage plants are starting to flourish. “It’s a bit of a metaphor for the whole city – new things are appearing that weren’t expected,” says Jade.
More than just a cafe, Kākano (which means ‘seed’) is a social enterprise which Jade established to teach families in her community what she has learned about health, lifestyle and wellbeing. She wants to help people embrace traditional food, food gathering and growing to enhance their health and nutrition. Serving a predominantly Māori menu, the cafe aims to use foraged kai as much as possible.
“There’s a beautiful story to tell about food that comes from the land,” explains Jade. “To say, ‘I caught that, I know the whakapapa of the land where that came from’. What’s special to me is that if I put horopito in a dish it’s not from a packet, but my kids and I picked that and dried it. I’m fortunate that I know the ancestry of where that food came from and can honour that. I’m fortunate to interact with the land and feel my place in the world. I’m a recipient of the land teaching me things, and I can channel that into different platforms.”
Already an Ellerslie Flower Show medal winner and former New Zealand Gardener of the Year, her most recent venture is hosting the TV show He Kākano, which began screening in August 2018 on Māori TV. Across 10 episodes the show promises to impart simple skills for how to get green, organic and healthy; to demonstrate the art of growing kai organically from seed and to change how we grow, nurture and cook our food. “I want to show people a healthy lifestyle, to inspire people to give something a go, to take the first steps, then learn by natural progression and add things into your life as you go through. I’m a life learner from my experiences of learning from the land.”
Jade describes both her grandfathers as “men of the land” and it would appear that with Jade their wisdom has landed on good soil.
In The Nordic BakingBook internationally acclaimed chef Magnus Nilsson examines all aspects of Nordic home baking, both modern and traditional, sweet and savoury. Travelling through Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, he has collected more than 450 recipes and documented local baking traditions. (Phaidon RRP $59.95 )