3 Female Bartenders Are About to Take Over a Honolulu Speakeasy
Kaka‘ako’s The HI Brau Room invites three mixologists who are women to run the room for a night starting February 22.
(left to right) bartenders nohelani ader, arielle hafen and natalie hansen get ready to shake things up at The hi brau room in february, march and april.
Photos: Courtesy of Ellemsee Media
The job of bartending leans male. So Ben Flores, beverage director of The HI Brau Room, figured out a way to share his home-base Honolulu speakeasy to spotlight his talented female peers.
Flores started the You Have The Room series last year to showcase women who are bartenders and have “the vision, discipline, mettle and absolute talent necessary to run their own beverage programs.”
He says, “they run the room as if it was their own; I am a glorified cocktail server that night.”
Flores says all involved liked how it turned out, including the bartenders and bar guests: “I could not have anticipated how well received this concept would have been.” The 2019 lineup included Jerah Mikami, who tends bar at Suzie Wong’s Hideaway Bar and Nico’s at Pier 38.
Mikami says: “What stuck with me was that Ben was gracious enough to make the time to sit with us and not only talk booze but talk about the nitty-gritty business side of it; the numbers, pour cost and all that fun stuff that drives bar managers and owners mad—and to drink.”
Flores waxes poetic over the women in the next takeover whom he feels: “represent the liquid movement, which will contribute the bridge between a stagnant craft and the modern palate.”
The first this year is Arielle Hafen on Feb. 22. Hafen, 26, moved to Hawai‘i when she was 19, after starting in the food and beverage business at 18. “I am half Japanese and half Swiss; I have four sisters, which might be the reason why I am a huge believer in girl power,” she says.
On O‘ahu, she started bartending at Pint + Jigger four years ago and left to travel for a couple of years. Hafen says, “I also bartended for a year at an amazing restaurant in the Sunshine Coast, Australia, called Sum Yung Guys.” Yup, a Wayne’s World reference at a Southeast Asian fusion restaurant.
hafen will be the first to take over the bar on saturday, feb. 22.
Hafen has only been back in Honolulu a couple of months and is looking for a new bar home. What to expect from her takeover? “My favorite cocktail is the boulevardier, whiskey Negroni, but I will never turn down a daiquiri either,” she says.
Next will be Nohelani Ader from Búho Mexican Cocina y Cantina on March 14 and Natalie Hansen from Spago Maui on April 18.
Mikami says the takeover experience for her was chaotic yet great. “Doors open and the bar seats are filled with lots of familiar faces and strangers. I enjoyed every minute of that night: making my cocktails in such a beautiful space, behind a well-built bar, and even the chaos of getting my butt kicked when the bar picked up.”
Saturdays Feb. 22, March 14 and April 18. 5 p.m. to midnight. The HI Brau Room, 700 Queen St., (808) 544-1605. On Instagram: @thehibrauroom.
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