Drinking for free: Week One

Tom posted on the Wellingtonista recently about the places to drink for free. Join me as I try to score free drinks every week until the end of the year.

For the first in my series, tonight I’m going to the

“AUT Alumni Cocktail function is this Thursday from 6 – 8 pm. at Hotel Inter-Continental.”

You can sneak in and join me there, and I’ll report back on how it is when I come home, including analysis of the food, the selection of drinks, the company and how much I got out of it and its approximate monetary value.

The event itself

Companion: Fellow AUT Alumni Shirley, and if we were bad sort of people, we may have snuck someone else in under the pretext that they were in our class. But we’re not bad people, honest.

Venue: The drinks were held at the Hotel Intercontinental, in one of the function rooms. It was a very bland space designed for around 30 people. Arm chairs were around the walls, and there were a couple of small tables in the middle of the room, cleverly placed for putting down empty drink glasses, and with bowls for rubbish. An effort was made to make them look more interesting by scattering flat blue glass marbles on top. The bar table was near the entrance door, which was guarded by an AUT staffer to make sneaking in people without them being added to the mailing list much harder. Some of the lights in the windowless room weren’t turned on, allowing the non-AUTer to lurk in the shadows more. Oh, and the toilets had individual hand towels. Classy.
How good was it?: I hadn’t been to the Intercontinental since we went there for KateB’s 12th birthday dinner when it was the Park Royal, so that was nice to do something different, but it was an incredibly bland space.

Drink: The bar had bottles of Montana wine displayed in classy silver bottle-coolers – Lindauer, Sav and a red I didn’t inspect. The beer range was Monteiths and Heineken, and in an unusual touch, they also had a cruet-holder with classy bottles of raspberry, lime and lemon syrups, as well as a range of mixers, suggesting that maybe there were spirits behind the bar. But given how long it took to get a glass of wine poured (there was only one girl behind the bar, who struggled with the Lindauer cork for aaaages), I didn’t bother asking for a mixed drink so I can’t confirm that they were actually offering spirits, or what brand they were.
Tally: 4 glasses bubbly ($28 value in a bar, $9 at home)

Food: Food was brought around on small platters by one waiter, who didn’t circle the room properly, so most of the food went to the people nearest the door, dammit! It consisted of mini sushi (I hate sushi), coconut-crusted prawns (they looked so good I almost tried one, but I don’t like prawns either), rare roast beef on polenta bites (really yummy) and tiny pieces of cheese on tiny bagel chips (only one lot of these circulated as far as I saw).
Tally: 3 pieces beef, 1 piece cheese – I’m estimating the catering was $2.50 per menu selection per person, with 2 or 3 items offered for each thing, so maybe a $5 catering value.

People: There weren’t many nametags left when we went in, but it turned out that there weren’t all that many people there at all. We were pounced on for conversation when we entered, and gradually we started talking to other ex-comms people, all at a very superficial level. There was, however, one woman there who might be a valuable business contact for both Shirley and I, so that’s a good start.

Scoring factor: Zilch. It was almost all entirely corporate women, or older men associated with AUT. And it was far too civilised to start to find out juicy details about the people.

Celebrities: Gemma Gracewood, who didn’t stay long.

Gifts: We got AUT Alumni Network branded pens when we left. They’re silver, with a padded grip and quite classy. However, when you work in an office, good pens lose their novelty value. Unless this one can write in SPACE! Which I don’t think this one can. I also got an AUT-branded lanyard on my name badge, which I’m sure I can be put to good use as a red accessory for my work ID instead of the usual pale blue I use.

Total freebie value: We were only there for around an hour out of its two hour window, so had Shirley not wanted to go and catch up with our mysterious friend who went out for a cigarette and didn’t come back, I could have made better use of the bar. But with such a small group of people assembled (20) and only one bar person, frequent trips to the bar would have been more noticeable and frowned on. Still, it cost me only a quick application of eyeshadow and a ten minute stroll from work, and I got to hang out with Shirley, and then her mysterious friend’s friend bought me a drink in the hotel bar afterwards, so not a waste of time at all. A fine start to free drinks each week, me thinks.

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