Voting in the Fourth Annual Wellingtonista Awards is open from December 1-15. Then come find out the results at our Awards Night at Mighty Mighty on December 17!

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For drinks after work, anywhere with a liquor licence will do But then there’s Drinks Late At Night (with capitals), which is a whole ‘nother thing. Late-night venues are where you go when you’re hoping for mischief and merriment, when you want to keep drinking to avoid the hangover, or if you’re just having too much fun to stop. If the staff at these venues could talk, what stories they could tell…

The Hawthorn Lounge: It’s late in the evening and you’re looking for a cozy den where the drinks are good, the music is jazz and tables have green baize. On Tory Street there’s a black door under an awning advertising a famous champagne. Those in the know saunter up and into Wellington’s best speakeasy. Best Late Night venue? The Hawthorn Lounge can only really be experienced when the sun (and the after-workers) has disappeared.

The Watusi: We asked for a tiki bar and we pretty much got one. The Watusi is filled late into the depths of the evening with the sugary scent of rum and the rolling waves of surf guitar. The only thing missing is the tropical heat and sand.

Mighty Mighty by KowhaiMighty Mighty: Self-consciously kitsch décor? Check. Bar staff with attitude? Check. Mind-bendingly weird music and arty performances? Bingo! If we didn’t love it so much, the Mighty would be a hipster cliché … but we do love it, because its heart is in the right place, and because some of our wildest, loudest, messiest and just plain fun nights have ended up on these battered old floorboards. 

Hooch: It has a touch of Hawthorn’s relaxed elegance, but with a raunchy twist and a piratical gleam in its good eye. It’s always worth fighting the Courtenay hordes for its cocktails and charm, but you should keep a special look out for its debauched "Minsky" theme parties – named after the notorious New York burlesque club – if you like to dress well yet behave badly.

Photo by Deb SideslingerMidnight Espresso: Loathe as some of us are to nominate an unlicensed cafe in this category, we can’t go past the fact that Midnight is the ultimate late-night hangout. The Dorian Grey of cafes seems utterly untouched by the last two decades, and keeps on serving cakes, nachos and coffee to new generations of freaks, hippies, musos, drunkards and anyone who finds themselves out way, way past their bedtime.