“We’ve got a guy who’s been working for us for years called Stingray,” says Pete Walsh, co-owner of Bodriggy Brewing Co. “He works in the brewery now, but while we were building Bodriggy he lived in [the] upstairs space. We always just sort of referred to that space as 'Stingray's' and that name kinda stuck.”
Did it ever. The cavernous Abbotsford brewery, bar and Mexican joint has just opened a much more intimate upstairs bar named – you guessed it – Stingrays. “Once we built it, we decided we wanted a contrasting feel to downstairs,” says Walsh. “It’s an accurate interpretation of the individual himself.”
Though quite small (the maximum capacity is 70), there’s no musty attic vibe; the team carved out a great big skylight so natural light streams in during the day. And Walsh describes the fit-out as “high-end Australiana”, with a touch of ‘70s disco (yes, there’s a disco ball). It’s also decked out with kitsch floral wallpaper, glistening chandeliers – that somehow don’t look out of place – and a mezzanine level.
It’s the ideal place to saunter up to after a few pints downstairs. Though the food and booze offering is much the same, the plush velvet banquette and dark-timber features lend themselves more to the later hours.
Cocktails are what Stingrays is focused on, though. That Blue Drink is an aptly named fluorescent-looking blend of Four Pillars gin, fino sherry, blue curacao, elderflower, Spanish bitters and yuzu soda. And the Zooper Cruizer is a mix of vodka and Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin with apricot, raspberry wine and finger lime.
There’s also all the classic Bodriggy beers, including the Cosmic Microwave (a juicy NEIPA), Fuzzy Dance Explosion (a hazy tropical sour) and Utropia (a citrusy pale ale). And a small list of mostly local wines comes from producers such as Little Reddie, Fin Wines and Quealy, as well as NZ’s Garage Project.
Food-wise, snack on deep-fried white bait, cheesy prawn empanadas, vegan ceviche (made with grilled king brown mushrooms, glazed sweet potato and jicama – or Mexican turnip), and tacos with smoked swordfish or slow-cooked achiote-marinated pork.
Unsurprisingly, there’ll be plenty of interplay between the two spaces, with monthly late-night parties part of the plan. The idea is for local bands to do a gig downstairs then head upstairs to play a DJ set in closer confines.