19 Christmas-Themed Cocktails to Try in Honolulu This December
Making spirits bright with some yuletide cheer? Check.
Yippee Ki Yay (left) and Ho Ho Ho.
PHOTOS: KATRINA VALCOURT
There are two types of people in this world: Those who think Die Hard is a Christmas movie and those who are wrong. If you’re a member of the former group, head to Livestock Tavern to throw back a Yippee Ki Yay ($14)—a smoky and strong combination of St. George Terroir Gin, Laphroiag, bitter liqueur and Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters (we don’t know why it doesn’t include Yippee Ki-Yay whiskey from High West Distillery, halfway up the shelf behind the bar). The winter seasonal menu also offers the Welcome to the Party Pal (vodka and bitters with citrus and holiday-ish cranberry, ginger and sparkling wine, $12), the Ho Ho Ho (a creamy white-rum drink with Avuá Amburana Cachaça, frothy egg white, bitters and a festive sprinkling of rose petals, $12), the Happy Trails Hans (rum, Nocino, Madeira, allspice dram, maple syrup and orange bitters, $12) and the Come to Coast, Have a Few Laughs (rye whiskey, aquafaba, lemon, grapefruit and bitters, $12).
49 N. Hotel St., (808) 537-2577, livestocktavern.com
Mahina & Sun’s
From left: Frosted Vines, Hawaiian Snowglobe and Rosie By the Fire.
You only have until Christmas Day to order special holiday drinks from Mahina & Sun’s, unless bar manager Ross Lewis takes our advice and leaves the Rosie By the Fire ($16) on the menu all through 2019. It’s not your typical Christmas beverage, with strong Cazadores Reposado tequila and El Silencio mezcal, but the house-made rosemary simple syrup adds sweetness, and smoke from apple-wood chips and rosemary really does make you feel like you’re sipping fireside. Served with a giant clear round ball of ice and an orange swath with a rosemary sprig through it, this drink was a nice surprise and a clear favorite (my very professional notes read, “Think gonna get assaulted by super strong taste, but tickled by little elves”). The other, more obviously wintry drinks on the menu are the Frosted Vines ($16), made with Four Roses bourbon, Quinta do Noval port, a house-made mulled wine syrup with cardamom, allspice, black pepper and juniper, egg white and served with rosemary and cranberries; and the velvety smooth Hawaiian Snowglobe ($16), with Kō Hana Kokoleka rum, cognac, coconut, egg, an allspice-cinnamon simple syrup, and house-made cocoa and coffee tincture.
At the Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club, 412 Lewers St., (808) 924-5810, mahinaandsuns.com
From left: Christmas Cocoa, Nativity Nog and First Christmas Old Fashioned.
This pop-up bar in Downtown won us over just for being an entirely Christmas-themed spot, offering exactly what we’d expected: spiked hot cocoa (Cocoa Christmas, $14), spiked eggnog (Nativity Nog, $15), spiced-rum apple cider (Winter Warmer, $14) and more. We recently went (again) with a big group for First Friday, shared a bucket of Holiday Cheer (Smirnoff Sourced Pineapple with Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum, serves four for $30) and were delighted when members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Honolulu popped in for a few holiday songs. The drinks run on the sweet side, but you’re welcome to bring your own food to balance it out while you watch Elf projected on the wall and assemble your gingerbread house ($20 for a kit).
1109 Nu‘uanu Ave., (808) 780-6887, facebook.com
Kalikimaka Holiday Crawl
From left: Winter Wonderland, Merry Mistletoe, The Grinch’s Eggnog, Pacific Rim, Santa’s Lil’ Helper.
Photo: Courtesy of Turtle Bay Resort
You might not want to complete the entire thing in just one day (it runs through Dec. 30), but do pick up a drink passport from Turtle Bay and venture to the various bars and restaurants on the property for a cocktail crawl. If you’re one of the first 300 people to get a stamp at all six locations, you’ll win a 22-ounce Hydro Flask. Drinks include Santa’s Lil’ Helper at Surfer, The Bar (vodka, ginger beer, grapefruit, cranberry, $15); Ginger Snaps Back at Roy’s Beach House (Don Q Cristal Rum, white chocolate liqueur, gingerbread syrup, $14); and Merry Mistletoe at The Point Sunset and Pool Bar (Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver tequila, Cointreau, guava purée, mint, soda, $15). Bonus: There are also mocktails available as part of the promotion. Read more in Biting Commentary next week!
Various locations, (808) 293-6020, turtlebayresort.com
Top of Waikīkī
A Nightingale Sang, topped with gold flakes.
Through Dec. 31, get festive with Top of Waikīkī’s holiday specials, which include the extremely strong A Nightingale Sang (which tastes mostly of cognac and vermouth, but there’s also coriander-cardamom tincture and orange oil in it and gold flakes on top, $14), Naughty with a Side of Nice (rum, gingersnap liqueur, allspice dram, milk, sugar and an egg—it all sounds pretty nice to us, $14) and My Favorite Thing (vodka, crème de cacao, crème de menthe and rosemary in ice, $14). If you go during happy hour, tater tots are $8 and just salty enough to balance the drinks.
$14 each, 2270 Kalākaua Ave., 18th Floor, (808) 923-3877, topofwaikiki.com
Happy “Huladays” from Tommy Bahama.
Photo: Courtesy of Tommy Bahama
If you’re looking for a lighter taste of the holidays—with bubbles, perhaps?—Tommy Bahama’s Waikīkī restaurant features Happy “Huladays” ($13.50) with Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, cranberry ginger syrup, lemon juice and prosecco. And if you like it, you can make it at home with this recipe provided by the restaurant:
1.5 parts Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum
1 part cranberry ginger syrup
0.5 parts lemon juice
1 part prosecco
To make the syrup, cook 10 ounces cranberries with 8 ounces water, 8 ounces sugar and five 1-ounce pieces of peeled ginger. Cook about 10 minutes. Leave one piece of ginger in mix and blend thoroughly. Do not strain. Store in a squeeze bottle.
For the cocktail, in a mixing glass, add rum, cranberry ginger syrup and lemon juice. Shake, with ice, in a mixing tin. Add prosecco and gently strain into glass. Garnish with cranberry and mint sprig.
298 Beachwalk Drive, (808) 923-8785, tommybahama.com