6 Anything-But-Basic Brunch Cocktails to Start Your Day
Honolulu’s hottest brunch restaurants are going beyond the basic bloody mary—way beyond.
Forget a rasher of bacon—the best addition to your weekend brunch is a cocktail. And not any basic bloody mary or mimosa either. The cocktail renaissance that has revitalized the nighttime bar scene has finally trickled down to brunch menus, which means your midmorning drink will be every bit as creative as your main dish. Here are our six picks for the best brunch cocktails around town:
The Nook bills itself as a boozy bistro and delivers on that promise at brunch with a lengthy freewheeling list of drinks. The Loopty Loop is one of its newest creations and if you came looking for a spectacle, it will not disappoint. The theatrical—and totally Instagrammable—cocktail is made tableside as the server pours a base of rhubarb liqueur, Hendrick’s Gin and a house-made Meyer lemon shrub (a drinking vinegar) over caramel cotton candy, which dissolves into the alcohol while the lemon ribbon garnish floats to the top.
$12, The Nook Neighborhood Bistro, 1035 University Ave., Suite #105, (808) 942-2222, thenookhonolulu.com
From the Garden Bloody Mary
Photos: Steve Czerniak
Looking for a good reason to order a cocktail while the sun is strong? Mud Hen Water offers a duo of bloody marys at its popular Saturday brunch, each made with a thick, almost marinaralike base from whole canned Carmelina tomatoes then gussied-up with ingredients that bartender Kelly Jeffers says are part of the restaurant’s efforts to get to zero food waste. The From the Garden version, for instance, uses a purée of local organic veggies that—while still tasty—might look a little past their prime. Drinking well never felt so good.
$9, Mud Hen Water, 3453 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 737-6000, mudhenwater.com
This super lush cocktail—made from locally made vanilla gelato, Café Luxxe Espresso, organic vodka and lemon juice—is the beverage equivalent of the sweet waffles, pancakes and pastry side of the brunch menu. All of which is to say: It’s delicious. (Pro tip: This drink works equally well as a nightcap.)
$14, Mahina & Sun’s, 412 Lewers St., (808) 924-5810, mahinaandsuns.com
It would make sense that Pint + Jigger—a first-rate bar that just so happens to serve a great brunch—also has a solid list of daytime drinks. In the Talventi, what is billed as the bar’s signature brunch libation, boozy coffee gets kicked up to the next level by acclaimed barman Dave Newman. He starts with superstrong cold-brew coffee, adds rye whiskey and Campari, and tops off the drink with a dollop of vanilla-scented whipped cream. It’s the best sort of way to turbo-charge your weekend.
$10, Pint + Jigger, 1936 S. King St., (808) 744-9593, pintandjigger.com
Koko Head Café’s eclectic cocktail list spans from crowd favorite Queen’s Mimosa (cava, elderflower liqueur, guava juice) to the bombastic Morning Milkshake (vanilla gelato, bourbon, granola, bacon). But don’t overlook the more subtle choices, too, such as the Liliko‘i Fizz. Made from a base of gin, liliko‘i juice and muddled Thai basil, then topped off with ginger beer, the cocktail is refreshing, fizzy, sweet and sour—the sort of drink that works well with everything from the restaurant’s standout Koko Moco to the super rich Ohayou Eggs Skillet.
$15, Koko Head Café, 1145C 12th Ave., (808) 732-8920, kokoheadcafe.com
The mojito may not be traditionally thought of as a brunch drink, but after you’ve had the one at the Herringbone, you’ll wonder, why not? The refreshing bubbly drink—made with local Kōloa white rum, tart-sweet liliko‘i and mint—pairs exceptionally well with the restaurant’s Ray Ray Pancakes.
$13, Herringbone Waikīkī, 2330 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 797-2435, herringboneeats.com
For a Different Kind of Buzz
Hanoi Egg Coffee & Fernet Biscotti
This doctored-up coffee—made by pouring Kona coffee over a whipped sweetened egg—isn’t a cocktail per se, but it has just enough heft to feel like you’re drinking something serious. And just in case you wanted a hint of booze without, you know, actually drinking it, the accompanying biscotti are laced with Fernet, a bittersweet amaro.
$7, Piggy Smalls, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 777-3588, thepigandthelady.com/piggysmalls