Bar report: Safehouse
Left: Maria's Goose in a Pear Tree; right: Tequila Bold
1349 Kapiolani Blvd.
A cocktail lounge nestled in the back room of The Republik, The Safehouse offers drinks that are better than your average club, but not yet on par with true cocktail spots.
Before 11:30 pm, The Safehouse is mostly a ghost town. Exceptions are nights with competitions like Iron DJ, which draw crowds early on. Nightly happy hour specials, between 6 to 9 p.m., include $2 off cocktails and food.
Cocktails ($9 to $12) are divvied up by spirit; three drinks (clean/classic/bold) per spirit are offered. Some, like the Tequila Bold, described as "a yin and yang of opposing flavors with Espolon Blanco Tequila, Aperol, aged balsamic, freshly muddled strawberries and citrus," are original, while others, such as the Gin Classic are, well, classic (the drink is otherwise known as the Last Word, equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice).
Original drinks tend to have more attention paid to them; the Tequila Bold tastes of coffee with a slight nuttiness and a medium finish of anise, all nicely balanced by an astringency, presumably from the balsamic vinegar. The Clean Whiskey, with Johnnie Walker Black Label, Cruzan coconut rum, green Chartreuse and lemon, reminded me of a pina colada, without the mess of cream or blended ice.
The Gorg Fries ($8), thick-cut waffle fries bombarded with gorgonzola sauce and cheese crumbles, seemed to be popular, though they clashed with my citrus-y drinks. I struck out with the Other White Meat Tacos ($11). While the pork, onion, cilantro, and cotija filling was tasty enough, it was nearly impossible to get to—the deep fried wonton shell unforgivingly hard.
To Be Improved
Safehouse drinks are generally free-poured, built in the glass, and rarely garnished beyond a wedge of citrus; some distinction in drink appearances could make a world of difference to the senses. Sure, The Republik is a club, but swanky Safehouse has the potential to be a cocktail lounge of note.