Like the craft brewery scene, the cocktail scene on Oʻahu just keeps growing—and raising the bar in terms of concept and presentation. Honolulu has long been the Hawaiian Islands’ premiere place for up-and-coming cuisine, and now it’s also got a cocktail scene to match.
Whether you’ve got 24 hours or a lifetime in Honolulu, you can’t go wrong with any of the spots on this list. We’ll show you the hottest and newest places to go, along with some stalwarts of the scene that are still well worth a visit.
If there’s a spot that catches your eye, we recommend making a reservation for your visit. Although not all of the spots on this list take reservations for parties of all sizes, getting a walk-in spot at some of these intimate venues can be challenging to impossible. For best results, plan ahead by securing a reservation.
1150 Nuuanu Ave Unit A
Honolulu HI 96817
Entrance on Pauahi Street
#1: EP Bar
EP stands for extended play—a reference to the vinyl records that act as the central focus of this spot in Chinatown. Inspired by JBS Bar in the Shibuya district in Tokyo, EP Bar’s sonic environment is curated by a rotating cast of DJs who leverage the bar’s extensive in-house vinyl collection or bring their own. While the tunes play, patrons can choose a selection from the bar’s highball and house cocktail list or opt for beer, wine, or sake. Mocktails and light bites are also available.
By the way, don’t be misdirected by the bar’s plain storefront. The interior‘s note-perfect décor—with moody lighting to match—creates an ultra-hip atmosphere behind its unassuming entrance. Reservations essential.
745 Fort Street Mall
Honolulu, HI 96813
Located in Topa Financial Center
#2: Bar Leather Apron
There’s just something about an out-of-the-way cocktail spot that makes the atmosphere all the more special. That’s the case for Bar Leather Apron, which you’ll find on the Mezzanine Level of the Topa Financial Center. Since its opening, Bar Leather Apron has generated signficant buzz. You’ll see it on a number of best-of lists, and co-owner Justin Park has won national recognition for his bartending skills at the United States Bartenders’ Guild competitions.
Between the cozy atmosphere and the creative cocktails, you can’t go wrong at this spot. Although the food menu is small, it’s carefully crafted by Chef Colin Hazama. Reservations recommended.
675 Auahi St #130
Honolulu, HI 96813
Don’t let the industrial atmosphere fool you. The staff at Bevy is serious about their cocktails. If you love a new twist on a familiar favorite—like a mescal-fueled Old Fashioned—you’ll love the selections at Bevy. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of their punch bowls, which can serve up to six people.
Bevy has also started hosting late-night DJ sets on Friday & Saturday nights from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am, plus live music on Wednesdays. Stop in take in the music, the cocktails, and the tacos from Tacoʻako. Reservations available for parties of six or more.
202 Merchant Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
If you’ve experienced a memorable meal at Senia, you’re already familiar with the work of Anthony Rush and Katherine Nomura. Their newest venture, the immaculate and elegant Podmore, does brunch by day and over-the-top specialty cocktails at night. When we visited, we ordered the Chung Chow, served in a tall glass filled with colorful flavored ice balls. Our server poured the cocktail over these mesmerizing orbs while he explained that, as the ice melts, they infuse the Pimm’s-based concoction with flavors of mint, cucumber, strawberry, lemon, and orange. Plain ice cubes would, of course, simply dilute the cocktail.
The presentation is impeccable—with prices to match. However, if you love being delighted tableside, Podmore is well with a visit. And even though you might think twice about ordering a pork bun in a fancy cocktail bar, go for it. The cracklings deliver a unique texture, while the apple sauce offers the perfect sweetness to balance the savory pork filling. Reservations recommended.
1115 Bethel Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
#5: Lei Stand Cocktail Lounge
Vibey ambiance and tasty bites have made the Lei Stand place a welcome addition to Chinatown. Like EP bar, the Lei Stand is hidden behind an unassuming storefront—one that actually sells lei for purchase. The cocktails have gotten high marks so far, as has the Lei Stand’s uni waffle, created by Chef Ricky Goings, a James Beard Award nominee. Fueled by significant buzz, the Lei Stand has been packed since it opened. Reservations are a must.
#6: Wild Orange
Among Honolulu’s speakeasies, Wild Orange has remained one of the more difficult to find. The bar doesn’t have a website or an online reservation system. Instead, you need to text their reservations line to reserve your spot. What’s the number? We won’t ruin the fun! Tracking down the number yourself is all part of the experience.
Once you’re inside, you’ll be transported by the bar’s otherwordly décor and bewitched by the well-balanced and creative cocktails. Finding Wild Orange takes a little extra effort, but it’s a fun and delicious journey back to simpler, pre-Internet times.
Okay, we’ll give you one hint: Wild Orange may or may not be located within Hawaiian Brian’s at 1690 Kapiolani Blvd. But that’s all we’re going to say.
700 Queen Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
#7: HI Brau Room
Just upstairs from Aloha Beer in Kakaʻako, you’ll find the HI Brau Room, a speakeasy lounge done up in deep shades of brown and purple, with plush velvet and dark leather seating. Led by mixologist Ben Flores, the HI Brau Room offers carefully-constructed cocktails you won’t find in the brewery downstairs. The bar is only open on Friday and Saturday nights, so plan accordingly. Finally, if you’re looking for a distinctive spot to hold a private event, the HI Brau Room can accommodate up to 40.
962 Kawaiahao Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
Located in Hana Koa Brewing
#8: The Mezzanine at Hana Koa
Like the HI Brau Room, the Mezzanine is the upstairs cocktail bar at Hana Koa Brewing, with exclusive concoctions you can’t get in the brewery’s main room. You may also get lucky with access to a few “secret” taps of Hana Koa’s excellent beer that aren’t available in the main room. The Mezzanine purposefully doesn’t put their menu online, so the only way to know is to go. Backed by the ability to order from the full Hana Koa kitchen menu, we recommend leaving plenty of time to explore the creations from the Mezzanine’s resident mixologists. Reservations recommended.
39 N Hotel Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
#10: Tchin Tchin! Bar
This rooftop bar offers an expansive indoor/outdoor space with a largely laid-back vibe. Weekend evenings heat up with live DJ sets. Although they pour a plethora of excellent cocktails, Tchin Tchin! also offers a broad selection of beers and wine, so there’s plenty of variety to make everyone in your group happy. The bar takes reservations on weekdays and until 7:00 pm on Friday-Saturday, and the space is also available for private events.
2259 Kalākaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815
#11: Mai Tai Bar
There’s nothing quite like enjoying a classic mai tai right on the beach at Waikīkī with Diamond Head views in the background. That’s what the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian Resort is all about. While you’re not going to find wildly innovative cocktails at the Mai Tai Bar, you will find some solid takes on old favorites. And, you absolutely can’t beat the setting.
While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to soak in the lobby and public areas of the Royal Hawaiian Resort. The “Pink Palace of the Pacific” was built in 1927, and it’s credited with kicking off the era of luxury resort travel to Hawaiʻi. Almost 100 years later, the building is still a spectacle that’s simply a pleasure to take in.
2199 Kalia Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
Within the Halekulani
#12: Lewers Lounge
File this spot under “old-school charm.” Tucked into the Halekulani Hotel, you’ll find this sumptuous cocktail bar, decorated in dark woods and rich fabrics. The cocktails at the Lewers Lounge tend toward the traditional, but they’re masterfully made by the expert bartenders. The lounge also features jazz performances Tuesday–Sunday. It’s getting harder and harder to find live music from stand-out musicians in Honolulu, and the Lewers Lounge is solidly keeping the tradition alive.
Finally, while we love the hushed intimacy of Lewers Lounge, the nightly Hawaiian music at Halekulani’s House Without a Key is also exceptional. Stop by at 6:00 pm for an increasingly rare opportunity to enjoy authentic, traditional Hawaiian music—often accompanied by hula dancing—in downtown Waikīkī. With the backdrop of the afternoon light on the Pacific—and a signature Halekulani mai tai in hand—it’s an unforgettable experience.
While the Lewers Lounge doesn’t take reservations, they’re a must at House Without a Key. The outdoor space, while expansive, fills surprisingly quickly.
Sipping Your Way Through Honolulu
When you think “Oʻahu” or even “Hawaiʻi,” you may not think “cocktails.” But as this list shows, there are plenty of places in Honolulu where you can enjoy a cutting-edge, creative concoction or a super-solid, perfectly balanced classic drink. Cheers!
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