Honolulu’s year-round warm weather makes it the perfect setting for sipping on cool beverages – and Honolulu bar owners are stepping out of the tacky tiki bar cliche with luxe, creativity, and excellent customer service.
As you step into this swanky gentleman’s lounge on the mezzanine level of Topa Financial Plaza downtown, a bearded man in suspenders will greet you and ask if you have reservations. You will have made reservations at least 2 weeks in advance and booked seats at the bar.
Award-winning mixologist Justin Park combines his signature cocktail-mixing skills with his love for premium whiskies, Billie Holiday records, suspenders, and the leather aprons worn by all the bar-tenders. Order their Mai Tai – voted world’s best in 2015 – and be amazed when your bartender lines up over 10 ingredients on the bar to mix your concoction. He or she will put your Mai Tai in a hollow wooden tiki statue, followed by a puff of kiawe wood smoke. Watch the results – then drink them.
Brew’d Gastropub in the trendy Kaimuki district of Honolulu is a place where the servers know your name. Brew’d routinely rotates their 19 taps, does brewery take-overs, and features a fine selections of brews sourced locally, nationally, and internationally, all with a backdrop of the finest classic rock tunes.
When it comes to making a selection, bartenders are generous with samples, making sure that when you do commit to a pint that you really love it. And, there are “dirty fries”: French fries loaded with cheese and banana peppers, served with house made ketchup.
Walk into this WWII memorabilia bar, and the whirr sound of mini WWII fighter planes on pulleys overhead fills the room. The walls are decorated with relics from WWII and military life, and you can put on a helmet, and jump into an original 1942 Admiral Nimitz Jeep, and take a selfie.
The Brewseum, once a WWII museum, now brews over 6 beer varieties on sale in the pub. Take a walk next door through their mini museum, then head upstairs to their Wiki Waki Woo 1940s speakeasy – you’ll need the secret knock – and try one of their signature cocktails mixed up by a bartender in full military uniform.
Tchin-Tchin! Is a swanky rooftop bar in Honolulu’s Chinatown district. Their specialty is wine, but there are also hand-crafted cocktails and a great beer selection.
Its name translates to “Please, Please!” in Chinese, but you won’t be begging anyone for a refill anytime soon, because they have an above-average wine selection and skilled mixologists. The little rooftop patio seems to always have a spot or two when you walk in on a Friday night without a reservation.
Bevy, located in the up-and-coming Kakaako district of Honolulu, has rummage record sales, dance parties and a mean happy hour. The drinks are divine, especially their signature “Another Brick in the Wall,” which mixes walnut infused Knob Creek, rum raisin, bitters, and umami tincture. There’s an element of “the perfect storm” to all of their drinks, and you can pair your drink with their $1 raw oysters during happy hour.