Oahu may be known more for its surf breaks than nightlife, but Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu, boasts a lively after-hours scene that’s worth checking out. Whether you’re in the mood for an ice-cold beer in a cozy setting or a cocktail with a scenic view, the city offers a variety of options. To experience Honolulu like a local, here are five spots worthy of a try for a casual evening or a full night out, as well as hot monthly events to add to your calendar.
This French-inspired bar and restaurant in Chinatown has quickly become a go-to after-work spot for downtown professionals. It serves one of the best happy hours in downtown, with a menu of tasty bites such as baked Brie stuffed with pecans and dried cranberries, blue crab cakes and the classic moules frites (mussels and fries). Premium well drinks are just $4, and all of Du Vin’s signature cocktails are $3 off during happy hour, which runs from 4 to 6 p.m. daily except Sunday.
A classic go-to in Chinatown, Thirtyninehotel — named for its street address — has managed to keep a steady and loyal clientele the past 10 years through its tapas menu and signature cocktails (try the Hawaii 39, made with prosecco and sour cherry) crafted by some of the best bartenders in the neighborhood. The bar recently unveiled a new happy hour menu with Bloody Mary beef short ribs and triple-cooked fries with a loaded sour cream dip. Plus, it’s one of the only places in Chinatown where you can imbibe on a rooftop lanai.
If you’re more into drinks with a vista, head to the Wai’olu Ocean View Lounge in the luxurious Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach on the edge of Waikiki. Early evening is the best time to pop by for a visit, and the special sunset menu (available from 3 to 6 p.m.) is filled with tapas such as edamame hummus, spicy ahi tuna, hamachi rolls and crispy Thai chicken wings with a blue cheese dipping sauce. The lounge refers to its cocktail creations, such as the lavender martini, as “liquid artistry.”
This popular local spot, located less than two miles from Waikiki, offers quality food and drinks — with 21 beers on tap — in a relaxing space where you’ll never feel rushed. Evoking a modern public house feel, Pint + Jigger adds fun touches such as shuffleboard and a beer-garden-style area with communal tables where you can sit back and enjoy the surrounding company. Although the brews tend to reign supreme, there’s also a hearty cocktail selection with options such as the Smoking Gun (reposado tequila, blood orange, fresh lilikoi — or passion fruit — smoked macadamia simple syrup and a smoked macadamia nut rim). Food selections include the popular stout burger with beer cheese, garlic-Parmesan popcorn and spicy ceviche served on fresh tortillas.
Parking is paramount in Honolulu, and Pearl Ultralounge, located in the spacious Ala Moana Center, has loads of it. This lounge hosts various events regularly throughout the week, with its well-attended networking mixers and business socials luring in young professionals for years. Dine on mini Kobe burgers or oysters topped with a Bloody Mary granite, cucumber sorbet and ginger tobiko, and wash it down with any one of Pearl’s signature cocktails, such as the Triple Citrus Punch (Tanqueray gin; orgeat syrup; pineapple, lemon and orange juices; ginger ale; and freshly squeezed lemon). While the lounge is undergoing a renovation, the hot spot will reopen its doors in October.
Honolulu hosts monthly nighttime events that provide a nice change-up from the usual outings to bars and clubs. First Friday is on — when else? — the first Friday of every month in Chinatown, with art galleries and restaurants open later than normal. The dynamic ARTafterDark at the Honolulu Museum of Art, held the last Friday of the month at the downtown campus, features themed events that combine music, food and art. And the newest to the monthly lineup is the edgy Honolulu Night Market, a market/block party held every third Saturday of the month in Kakaako, a burgeoning neighborhood between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. It mixes retail, food, fashion and entertainment.
Photos Courtesy of iStock, Catherine Toth and Nonstop Honolulu