Honolulu, Hawaii is a top tourist destination, with endless opportunities for excitement and relaxation. When not enjoying the sun-soaked beaches or the tourist attractions, visitors can spend time exploring the city’s vibrant nightlife, offering everything from bars that specialize in craft brews to ocean-front lounges with fresh fruit cocktails. Here’s a list of the 10 best bars in the city.
Located in the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the beachside Mai Tai Bar has been serving handcrafted cocktails made with fresh local fruits since 1953. Named after the famed tropical drink, the version here is called the Royal Mai Tai, which customers can enjoy as they take in the views of Waikiki Beach. It is prepared with fresh pineapple and orange juices, cherry vanilla purée, rum, Cointreau and amaretto. And to top off the experience, there is live music played by local musicians each night.
From the outside, Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar & Grill is completely unassuming – during the day, it would be easy to walk right by without noticing the place. The modern, sleek designs of the interior, however, are another story entirely. At night, Uncle Bo’s comes alive with loyal patrons, who come to indulge in the tasty cocktails at the bar and munch on the fresh seafood dishes. The menu here is extensive and includes unique dishes, like walnut shrimp and beef tongue skewers.
The Brewseum is actually a World War II museum that happens to serve beer, making it an incredibly unique spot to experience in Honolulu. The bar is filled with memorabilia from the war – there are model planes hanging from the wall and a jeep that is perfect for a photo op. There are six beers on tap and many more to choose from in bottles, as well as complimentary popcorn to go along with snacks like soft pretzels and pizzas. The Brewseum is a great place to try some of the local Hawaiian brews too.
The Barefoot Bar is part of the Hale Koa Hotel located on Kahanamoku Beach, an excellent spot to relax with a beverage in hand. Head here during the evening hours to watch the sunset and enjoy live music. On Friday nights, Barefoot is the perfect spot to take in the occasional fireworks show in Honolulu. Oh and give the famous Lava Flow drink a go – it won’t disappoint!
For a food and drink experience that is anything but ordinary, head to Pint + Jigger. This gastropub offers up a wide selection of rare beers, as well as original mixed drinks. The 21 beers on tap are constantly rotating and there are another 40 to choose from by the bottle. As for a creative cocktail, try the “Smoking Gun” – a concoction of tequila, blood orange, fresh lilikoi (passion fruit) and a smoked macadamia nut syrup. The venue has something for everyone, whether you prefer to sit at the bar and chat with the bartender, or play a game of shuffleboard.
Sing your heart out at the eclectic Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar, consistently rated as one of the top bars in Honolulu. The staff here are extremely inviting and musically talented, too – customers often find themselves singing a duet with one of the bartenders. The beverages are top notch; check out the new ‘Yuzu Me, Prease’ made with home-made jelly, Hawaiian-distilled vodka, ginger lemon fizz, and Thai tea. Between the sugary drinks and the musical accompaniment, Wang Chung’s is sure to be a fun time.
Lewers Lounge, located inside the internationally acclaimed Halekulani Hotel, is a live jazz venue. This classy lounge features dark wood paneling and dim lighting, giving it a romantic feel. The signature drinks list was created by New York cocktail guru Dale DeGroff and includes both old school favorites and creative new faces. For those planning on going the classic route, a refreshing gin and tonic goes hand-in-hand with the soothing jazz tunes at Lewers.
Arnold’s Beach Bar in Honolulu’s Waikiki neighborhood calls itself “the last tiki bar” in the area. It’s a bit off-the-beaten-track, tucked away in a back alley, but Arnold’s is definitely worth seeking out. Here, customers enjoy some of the best drinks in Honolulu, from the Mai Tais to the margaritas. With friendly bartenders, nightly music performances (from 5pm to 8pm), and lower prices than almost anywhere else on the island, Arnold’s is sure to be a hit.
Bar 35 has been open since 2005, offering up more than 200 brews in downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown district. Along with the huge beer list, Bar 35 also features classic and specialty cocktails. Take advantage of the extended happy hour that goes from 4pm to 10pm from Monday to Friday, or one of the bar’s many special events, such as a beer tasting or art exhibit. The gourmet pizzas made with fresh ingredients are another highlight at Bar 35; they are the brainchild of master chef Francesco Valentini.
Murphy’s Bar and Grill is in Honolulu’s financial district, just one block away from the waterfront. This establishment, originally known as the Royal Hotel, has been around since 1891. It used to be a welcoming place for mariners, businessmen, locals and even royalty – in fact, King Kalakaua frequented the hotel. Over the years, ownership often changed hands, but the building remained the same. Today, Murphy’s provides a taste of Ireland in Hawaii – especially on St. Patrick’s Day, when it is billed as the largest such celebration of the festivities in the Pacific.