The Best Bars in Honolulu 2009: Liquid Assets
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Lewers Lounge and Nobu Waikiki
Bargains bars are all well and good, but sometimes you need a little unrestrained opulence. Luckily, Honolulu boasts two luxury lounges that offer exactly that. Which one you choose depends on your mood. Nobu has a chic, modern décor, a hip crowd and peerless sushi (bigeye and bluefin toro tartare with caviar, anyone?), while Lewer’s nails the moody, old-school vibe, with perfect renditions of classic cocktails and a nightly lineup of accomplished jazz pianists. If you can’t make up your mind, they’re across the street from each other. No reason you couldn’t bounce between them all night—apart from your bank account, of course. Nobu Waikiki, 2233 Helumoa Road, 237-6999. Lewer’s Lounge, Halekulani, 2199 Kalia Road, 923-2311.
After being closed for more than a year, Oceans 808 reopened last November better than ever, with a new, upgraded look, a larger dance floor and eye-catching water displays. Oceans has proved once again that it is a favorite weekend party stop for locals who like to dance, eat late-night pupu, such as the yummy ahi poke, and drink some of the Islands’ best cocktails all night long. Restaurant Row, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., 587-5838. oceansnightclub.com.
RumFire’s hip décor and location make this bar one of a kind. With indoor and outdoor seating, and an ocean view in every direction, it’s easy to unwind after a day’s work with a cucumber and lavender mojito, or a rum-filled Hokutini. After listening to live music, feeling the ocean breeze and enjoying the light from the fire pits around you, it becomes a challenge to leave. 2255 Kalakaua Ave., 922-4422, rumfirewaikiki.com.
The Crouching Lion Inn Bar & Grill
At the Crouching Lion Inn Bar & Grill, you’ll find yourself happily playing tourist, sipping on an ice-cold coconut (a restaurant specialty), tucking a plumeria behind your ear and taking in the quaint pub’s panoramic ocean view. Keep up the tourist façade with a tropical cocktail or opt for something off the beer or wine menus. Happy hour is Monday through Thursday and Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m.; Friday, 4 to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m. Draft and import beers, well drinks and martinis are discounted. Open daily, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; on weekends the bar closes between midnight and 2 a.m., depending on the crowd. 51-666 Kamehameha Highway, 237-8981. crouchinglionhawaii.com.
New kid on the block The Manifest has already found its niche. Open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., this chill Chinatown hangout is a coffee shop/classy lounge and bar. Whether you need to get the day started with a poppyseed muffin and an iced mocha espresso, or want to take in art while drinking with your friends, The Manifest can’t be beat. The brick-walled space displays the work of local artists, with a new exhibition each month. Stop by on a First Friday, and owner Brandon Reid will serve you one of his delicious hotdogs outside. 32 N. Hotel St., Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., manifesthawaii.com.
Since moving from Keeaumoku Street to South King Street, the new-and-improved Tsunami has gone from casual bar to trendy lounge. It’s a great place to start the night with club music pumping, color-changing lights illuminating the tables and locals playing darts in the side room. It’s worth a trip for the food alone, prepared by chef Aaron Fukuda, the former executive chef at Sam Choy’s. We recommend the pork chops, cut in pupu-style slices and served with a spicy chipotle aioli. 1272 S. King St., Monday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday through Sunday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., 951-8885, tsunamihawaii.com.