Bar Report: New Drinks at Salt Kitchen and Bar

The New and Improved Philz cocktail, on Salt's new bar program

Bar Report: Salt
In Kaimuki, 3605 Waialae Ave.; 744-7567

Pho-Gettaboutit, Two Left Feet, housemade vermouth that tastes like rich dark chocolate? Yes please.

Kaimuki has been one big game of musical chairs lately. Mike Hall has moved into his new, bigger and better bar at 12th Ave Grill—it's so big that Julian Walstrom, formerly of Salt, moved in with him. Jordan Edwards, previously Town's bar manager, has now taken over Salt's program, which offers him much more creative freedom. And he's certainly been taking of advantage of it, debuting a new menu that will excite any cocktail lover.

Left: Two Left Feet; right: Pho-Gettaboutit

The Drinks
Order one of Edwards' original drinks and you'll have the whole bar's attention. Everyone will be eyeing the neon-green Pho-Gettaboutit, which might look like a lemonade, but has the aroma of Vietnamese noodle soup. It's made with gin, house ginger syrup, Chinese five spice agave syrup, house Hawaiian chili pepper bitters and fresh lemon juice.

A new creative emphasis is on house vermouth, turning the pedestrian martini-filler into an exciting platform. "People don't really think about vermouth as a real ingredient," Edwards says, "but it can really round out a drink." His drink Two Left Feet is like a Manhattan-meets-a-Boulevardier, made possible by Edwards' vermouth, which is velvety-smooth, rich like a dark chocolate but with a tinge of bitter.

Edwards isn't afraid to offer up "challenging" drinks. "Most people equate rum to citrus and sweet, but what about no citrus and bitter?" Try his New and Improved Philz, a reference to the beloved coffee shop in San Francisco, where Edwards used to live. It's made with El Dorado 12 Year Rum, mint, Campari, Averna, and housemade coffee bitters. The challenge is welcome, and after tasting, I declared a winner: me.

The Food
Happy hour is a sure-fire deal. The happy hour menu, which also includes $6 special cocktails, runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. every day and all night on Sunday. Go with the fried pickles ($5) or the "SFC" Jidori fried chicken ($6) for a quick treat—both are super juicy, lightly battered and mouth-watering. The Kulana Burger ($8) is one of Honolulu's best at that price. I also like the kimchee grilled cheese ($5) and spiced nuts ($2).