Blink and you’ll miss this Ponsonby Road bar – not a speakeasy, exactly, but signage is purposefully discreet to attract only those who know what they’re looking for. From husband-and-wife owners Alastair Walker and Heather Garland (who also have popular Britomart bar Caretaker), Deadshot is a dark and cosy cocktail bar with table-only service.
That’s not to say it’s sedate – on a busy night, enter and you’ll be greeted with a lively buzz and a blues-funk soundtrack with some classic rock thrown in. The maximum group size taken is a table of six, which adds to the intimate feel.
Garland and Walker previously co-managed world-renowned Melbourne cocktail bar The Everleigh and each had a decade of industry experience prior to that, so it’s no surprise people go to Deadshot when they want a really, really good drink. What might surprise on first visit is there’s no drinks menu anywhere. Instead, once you’re seated, a staff member will arrive at your table and ask after each person’s particular tastes.
They’ll glean your spirit of choice, your ideal flavour profile (sweet or tart? Smoky, creamy or fresh?) and your preferred serving method. Then, one of the bar staff will create a drink based on your very own specifications. The level of skill and knowledge demonstrated here is impressive – as is the ability for time to disappear. But that’s the beauty of settling into one of Deadshot’s dark corners; it could be 6pm or 2am and you’d be none the wiser.
Those after a snack can order a selection of seasonal, locally -made cheeses from speciality food store Sabato, plus there’s charcuterie from Dominion Road restaurant and deli Cazador, which specialises in wild-caught, organic and free- range meats from New Zealand hunters.