Best Bars '08: The Pau Hana Edition
Everyone, everywhere, has a “happy hour,” but nowhere else in the world will you find “pau hana.” These two little words get to the heart of what one might be happy about at 5 or 6 p.m. on a weekday. Work is done. Pau. Finished.
(page 1 of 7)
Pau hana drinks could segue into a great night out or a quiet night at home. They put a neutral zone between the strain of the office—your official, “on the spot” public self—and the real, private, domestic you. Drop the mask. Take a load off. Unwind.
Here you’ll find some bars we thought were worth a stop at the end of the day. Drink specials? Pupu deals? Found those, too. We also took note of who seems to favor each spot, so you can either find—or avoid—your professional kin.
Another perk of pau hana: truly affordable bar tabs for these uncertain economic times, and a time limit (the latest happy hours seem to wrap up at 8 p.m.) that encourages moderation.
Amuse Wine Bar
WHO WE FOUND: 20- to mid 30-year-old artsy hipsters
This chic wine bar with a twist is the new place to be seen at. On the second level of the Honolulu Design Center, Amuse is a self-serve wine bar boasting 80 wines, plus sake. Think of it as a wine dispensing soda fountain. After purchasing an Amuse debit card, you insert the card into the dispenser for a 1-oz serving of any wine you care to smell, swirl and sip. Prices for the 1-oz. tastings range from 99 cents to more than $25. Although there are no pupu specials, the deal to look for is the Wine Lover’s Night on Mondays and Thursdays, where you can purchase a $50 Amuse card for $28. To compliment your wine, we recommend the cheese platter with a variety of cheeses and crackers, nuts and fruit for $12. 1250 Kapiolani Blvd (on the corner of Piikoi and Pensacola Streets), 237-5428. Open Monday-Saturday 5-10:30 p.m., no set pau hana hours.
WHO WE FOUND: A melting pot of people from downtown businessmen to college students.
Calling all beer connoisseurs. If you want to learn more about beer, or just drink it, then head over to Bar 35 on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. for the House of Brews. For $20, you and your friends can enjoy nine domestic and international beers chosen by beer expert Andy Baker, in an informal beer tasting setting. Come early and enjoy first- come-first-serve samples of its Valentini Fusion-Gourmet pizzas—we liked the thin-crust Tuscan Sun the best ($12 pizza feeds two). The bar’s other pau hana specials include $3 Skyy cocktails and $4 select beers. We loved the dainty but yummy Lemon Drop. 35 N. Hotel St., 537-3535. Pau hana Tuesday-Friday 4-8 p.m.
Drink your Hefeweizen or Kona Longboard like a king (or queen) in these chilled 18-oz. goblets for $3.
Brasserie Du Vin
WHO WE FOUND: Sales representatives and real estate agents.
For those who don’t care for loud bars and loud music, Du Vin is your place. “Do you come here often for pau hana?” we asked a furniture sales rep. “This is my usual spot after work to meet with clients,” says Gail Moore, “It’s upscale—an adult place.” The French eatery’s pau hana specials are $4 cocktails and martinis and nine half-price pupu. We found the baked brie with pecans and dried cranberries delicious ($7), but stay away from the Du Vin Martini, unless you like really sweet drinks. If you’re looking for a discount from Du Vin’s extensive wine list, you’ll have to come around 10:30 p.m.; there are no wine specials during pau hana. 1115 Bethel St., 545-1115. Pau hana Monday through Saturday 4-6 p.m.
E&O Trading Co.
WHO WE FOUND: Mainly established professional couples in their late 30s, cocooning, and a couple of older gents who came to the bar equipped with newspapers and an understandable interest in bypass surgery.
We get why either of these sets would be drawn to E&O—it’s dark, quiet and stylish. An easy place to hold an intimate conversation. Consider loosening those tongues with the $5 “elixir of the day” drink special. In our case, that was a Tao of Rose, featuring Bombay Sapphire Gin and Ailzé vodka infused with rose and lychee—in keeping with the Far East exoticism that is E&O’s theme. Worth a bite from the pupu specials: sashimi in citrus dressing, $6, and peanut chicken satay, $1 per skewer. The latter had some actual heat mixed in with the sweetness. Ward Centre, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., 591-9555. Pau hana Monday through Saturday 4-7 p.m.