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2 minutes with Justin, the mixologist behind the sparkly cocktails

July 17, 2018

Justin McKenzie is the brains behind some of Welly's top cocktail bars, C.G.R Merchants, Hawthorn Lounge and Cuckoo, and master of the indulgent tipple.  

What are your bars putting on for Visa WOAP this year? 

The bars [C.G.R Merchants, Hawthorn Lounge and Cuckoo] are presenting three very different expressions of party: classic, fun, and one that's a little crazy... 

How were you inspired by the theme of Party?

We've created drinks that are fun and unexpected – what more do you want from a party?

Describe your favourite birthday cake growing up?

I don't have a favourite childhood cake that jumps to mind. I know this will annoy my mother as she spent many a late night creating a masterpiece every year (and still does for the grand kids!)

What’s your best Visa Wellington On a Plate memory? 

Hosting and presenting the cocktail degustation at Hawthorn Lounge for 2017. This event took over a year to come together. The work and skill the team put into every glass and accompaniment made me very proud.

When did you become interested in mixology?

When I started working in hospitality, I was mostly interested in drinks. That is something that has not changed. 

What do you think the bar scene will look like in Wellington in the next 10 years?

I’m intrigued to think where the industry and Wellington could go...

Who inspires you and your work?  

My staff – they make every day an adventure.

If you had free time to go to a 2018 Visa WOAP event (not your own) what would it be and why?

The Future Foods: What We’ll Eat in 2050 event sounds very interesting. And Magnum Party – any excuse to open a Magnum of wine at Capitol!