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A World Famous Bartender Shares His Favorite Honolulu Drinking Spots

You know how to EAT THIS CITY. With top chefs as tour guides, you’ve learned how to scout out hot spots for breakfast and brunch, where to go for a delicious date night, and how to feast like a local liege in the cities you love. But where do you wash it all down? Do you know how to find the best brewpub? Who makes the meanest of bloody marys and the most sparkling of mimosas? What bars transport you?

You’re about to find out. Welcome to DRINK THIS CITY!

The weather may be getting cooler, but, we’re heating things up in beautiful Honolulu this week! Our guide to Honolulu’s drinking hotspots is Jason Vendrell — sommelier and Beverage Director of Handcrafted Restaurants. He keeps busy overseeing Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman on Maui and Oahu, Moku Kitchen on Oahu, and The Beach House on Kauai. He’s the mastermind behind Monkeypod Kitchen‘s famed Lilikoi Foam Mai Tai, a cocktail so popular that the Maui location sold over 53,000 alone in 2015.

Intrigued? Lucky for us, he’s ready to share the best places to snag a drink in one of our favorite Hawaiian cities!

Ready for a cocktail? Let’s check out Jason’s ten favorite drinking hot spots in Honolulu!

BRUNCH COCKTAIL OR HAIR OF THE DOG

Pint + Jigger

I would drink it any time, but Pint + Jigger makes a drink called the ‘Talventi’, with whiskey, campari and cold brew coffee that is outstanding. It’s one of those drinks that is so simple I cursed myself for never thinking of it myself, which is always the best kind.

CLASSIC COCKTAIL

The Pig & The Lady

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Yummy lunch 😋

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A Ko Hana rum daquiri, made by Kyle Reutner (Pig and the Lady), may be my ‘desert island’ cocktail. It’s the perfect balance of a distinctive spirit being perfectly complimented with by lime and sugar.

CRAFT COCKTAIL

Bar Leather Apron

Justin Park and his team at Bar Leather Apron have consistently blown my mind. Not only are the harmony and flavors of their cocktails incredible, but the presentation is always creative and the atmosphere is comfortable and classy.

PUNCH

Mill House

The Ti Punch at the Mill House in Wailuku is a favorite of mine.

DIVE BAR

L’ava’s

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Wednesday got me ready for a 4pm "tasting"

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There is a bar called L’ava’s in Wailuku that doesn’t look like anything special from the outside, but it is super comfortable and unpretentious with surprisingly excellent food.

PUB, TAVERN, OR BREWERY

Kohola Brewery

I love the people and beers at Kohola brewery in Lahaina. It’s in the former Maui Brewing Facility and the tasting room is essentially just at one end of the brewery.

HOTEL BAR

Lehua Lounge

You can’t beat the Lehua Lounge at the Andaz Hotel in Wailea. I’ve never seen a pool bar with such superb craft cocktails and their staff is extremely talented and warm.

HOT DRINK

Monkeypod Kitchen

There aren’t many occasions to drink (temperature) hot cocktails in Hawaii, but if you want to define hot as spicy, I actually love one of the cocktails we serve at Monkeypod Kitchen called the Makawao Ave. We make our own ginger beer with a touch of cayenne pepper and mix that with rye whiskey, lemon, honey and angostura bitters.

It is both intense and pleasantly refreshing.

THEMED BAR OR IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE

The HI Brau Room

don’t know if it’s really a ‘themed bar’ per se, but the Hi-Brau Room in Kaka’ako is everything I want in a Speakeasy-style bar. They nailed the atmosphere with the vintage wallpaper, a fireplace and framed portraits of pop-culture icons like David Bowie and Keith Richards. The drinks are also outstanding. Brad Miller, their bar manager, is super talented.

COCKTAIL MADE BY A FRIEND

Backyard Mango Margaritas

This is a tough one, but I enjoy drinking mango margaritas at my best friend Jonathan’s house. He has a lime tree and a mango tree and they pair beautifully with the sunset from his back yard.

Thank you Jason for taking us on a tour of Honolulu’s best bars!

Like what you read? Check out Drink This City: Detroit, Drink This City: Chicago, Drink This City: New York and Drink This City: Nashville.

Join us next week for more DRINK THIS CITY! Meanwhile, hit us in the comments — where should we travel next?

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