Bar Report: Bevy

Left: Dueling Mai Tai; right: Sarsaparilla Julep

661 Auahi St., Kaka'ako

Kakaako's hippest block gets the cocktail bar it deserves in Bevy, where Christian Self makes almost every syrup, infused spirit and tincture from scratch and mixes them in drinks like a Sarsaparilla Julep and Poha Berry Cobbler. The space used to be Scores, one of Honolulu's dime-a-dozen dive bars; the previous tenant's benches are now upholstered with recycled denim jeans, pockets and all, in which customers leave little notes.

The Vibe
Vintage meets industrial: exposed pendant bulbs cast a dim, warm light over concrete floors, unfinished wood, a lava rock wall and wine boxes turned into table surfaces. Timo Lee, partners in the bar and also a DJ, known for her long-running show "Afternoon Delight" on KTUH, schedules popular DJs and the occasional live music act.

The Drinks
Self has expanded on the opening cocktail menu, divided between inventive cocktails and plays on classics. In the former category: the Italian Geisha (Campari, Japanese whiskey, Creole shrubb, sparkling sake and bitters); in the latter, a Moscow Mule mixed with a house made ginger beer and served in its traditional copper-colored vessel. New to the menu are a selection of champagne drinks and from-scratch mai tais.

One that I can't get out of my head: the Dueling Mai Tai, which takes two mai tai recipes that lay claim to being the original and serves both of them in the same glass. The 1944 Trader Vic mai tai forms the base of the cocktail and the essence of Donn Beach's 1938 recipe is foamed on top. The bottom layer: a mix of aged Jamaican rum, fresh lime juice, house curaçao and house orgeat (an almond syrup). The top layer: a froth of falernum, Pernod and bitters that make Donn Beach's mai tai distinct.

A happy hour menu, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, offers $5 champagne, $5 cocktails of the day, $3 house beers, and $1 oysters. A handful of oysters with a Death in the Afternoon (Hemingway's pairing of absinthe and champagne) is the perfect pau hana pairing.

Cocktails that exemplify Self's tendency toward fresh and fruity: the Jade Damsel, made with gin, cucumber, basil, honeydew melon, and lime, and the Poha Berry Cobbler, with poha berry, orange, rum and St. Germain.  

The Food
Jamal Lahiani, who ran the kitchen (if you could call the closet-sized space that) at Thirtyninehotel, rejoins with Self after a year of staging at dozens of restaurants in Chicago. On the playful, small-plates menu: fried goat cheese with goat and goat's milk ($8), rabbit and carrot ($12), a Cornish pasty of creamed beef with baked beans ($8), and oil-poached ahi with an olive salad and shrimp chips ($12).