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Drinking @ ... The Cuban


Image: Andre Glynn Photography

Flanked by a towering cigar chomping, steel-eyed possible dictator or cartel runner mural on one wall and a stunning, tangerine "April Sun in Cuba"-style panorama on the opposite one, it’s clear we’re not in Christchurch anymore.

With the aim of bringing a slice of Havana to the central city, the team behind Baretta have not only hit one out of the park with their spanking new cabana of cool that is The Cuban, but also seriously upped St Asaph Street’s swag in the process.

The next level transformation of the now unrecognisable former St Asaph Street Kitchen & Stray Dog Bar features an epic covered courtyard studded with stand-around gas fire-cum-bar leaners for brisk winter arvos and evenings, with the option of raising the roof (or retracting, if we’re being technically correct) for hot spring/summer nights.

Nailing effortless hip, a chunky ol’ skool wooden bar that could be straight out of Havana hotspot La Bodeguita Del Medio exudes swank, with an electric blue-lit Cuban party scene shining through an expansive rum selection, while specially-brewed-for-the-venue Cuban Laga (a new Cityscape fave) flows from militia-style machine gun beer taps.

In the main bar/restaurant the Cuban fury continues, and with so many Latin artefacts and trinkets on display (including a clever missile disguise for an air-conditioning duct) you eventually simply give up looking, knowing you’ll clock something new on your next visit.

Resplendent with rum, of course, (there were 45 different brands when we visited, but this is increasing on the daily) a mojito is a prerequisite (if you can wean yourself off the Cuban Laga, that is) and the Cartel Mojito doesn’t disappoint. The classic mix of rum, mint, fresh lime wedges and sugar syrup is muddled to perfection – leave the car at home, because you won’t be able to stop at one (seriously), and you won’t be fit to drive after two!

Eats wise, tasty Cuban street food with a kick is the order of the day, with choices ranging from tapas highlights Jalapeno Pork Crackle, must-try Popcorn w/ Chocolate and Papa Rellena w/ shrimps n (totally boss) house hot sauce to the more substantial Pulled Pork Tostada and the bangin’ Arroz Imperial (feisty Achiote chicken with cheese and mayo on rice). Mean-as Churros with salted caramel sauce are the perfect note to finish on while the mysterious Taste of Cuba – ‘coffee, rum n cigar’ is a treat best discovered for yourself. Viva la Cuban!

236 St Asaph Street
(03) 260 2605


Cityscape is the essential Christchurch directory of where to eat and drink, what to do and where to shop. From the best events to add to your calendar to tips to ensure you squeeze out the very essence of the city, Cityscape has the city of Christchurch covered inside and out.


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Guest 22 January 2018