Best of Honolulu – Entertainment

It’s that time of year again. We’ve scoured the island, grilled the experts and enlisted your help to bring you the best “Best of Honolulu“ ever.

Best Community Theater
Diamond Head Theatre
(Readers’ Pick)

Click for larger image
photo: Mark Arbeit

Theatergoers know they can count on a rollicking good time at Diamond Head Theatre (DHT), best known for staging classic musicals with broad box-office appeal. To get the above photo, we enlisted the help of 24 DHT staffers and actors. Founded in 1915, DHT is the oldest continuously operating theater in Hawai‘i, even producing “Blackout Revues” during the World War II years. This month, the theater premieres Sweet Charity, which features memorable tunes such as “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now.” 520 Makapu‘u Ave., 733-0274,

Best Liquor Store
Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors
(Editors’ Pick)

photo: K. Gonzales

Honolulu has its share of reputable wine shops, but where’s a liquor lover supposed to find some of the hard stuff? Turns out one of the town’s best wine stores also boasts the most extensive selection of spirits—Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors. “We provide the largest selection at the best prices, so it gives everybody a variety,” says manager Roy Fujimura. Vodka fans can “pour” over the store’s 35 brands, including Hangar One ($31.79) and Vox ($29.39) And whiskey enthusiasts have more than 30 options to choose from. Affordable as Tamura’s prices are, serious connoisseurs can still drop mad cash on harder-to-find products, including a 25-year-old single-malt Macallan scotch ($400) and Germain-Robin’s acclaimed brandy, Anno Domini 2000 ($271.99). 3496 Wai‘alae Ave., 735-7100.

photo: Olivier Koning

Best Mojito
Ryan’s Grill
(Editors’ Pick)

To a certain downtown restaurant that will remain anonymous, take note: You don’t put Sierra Mist into a mojito. You just don’t. Ryan’s Grill, on the other hand, serves a far more righteous blend: light rum and tons of mint—torn into pieces that are not too big and not too small—added into a freshly made lime sour and soda water. The mojito ($6.95) comes in a tall glass, all the better for sipping and watching the sunset. Ward Centre; 591-9132,

Best Pau Hana
(Readers’ Pick)

“Oh! I’m sorry!” said the woman who had inadvertently pilfered from our plate of french fries. You couldn’t blame her: Best Pau Hana spot Indigo does offer a complimentary pupu buffet at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Or maybe she’d just had one too many during Martini Madness, when the stem-legged drinks are $3.50. Indigo has the swank, exotic feel you hope for in a Honolulu bar, and a trendy happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. It “attracts a well-dressed crowd of twenty- to forty-somethings,” says Jason “Cass” Castle, beverage director and wine steward. 1121 Nu‘uanu Ave; 521-2900.

Best Nightclub
Ocean Club
(Readers’ Pick)

Year after year, local club-goers have gravitated to the perpetually happening Ocean Club—so much so that it caught the attention of Nightclub & Bar Magazine, which named the Restaurant Row spot one of the country’s top 100 bars and clubs. 500 Ala Moana Blvd., 531-8444.

rRed Elephant offers a sound experience that is just as good whether you sit in the first row or the last. photo: Sergio Goes

Best Venue for Live Music
Live at the rRed Elephant
(Editors’ Pick)

It’s no accident that Live at the rRed Elephant, the new performance space on Bethel Street, sounds so good. The owners, business partners Joey Wolpert and Paul Krieling, are both sound engineers and composers. “It’s a recording studio that just happens to seat 125 people,” says Wolpert. Tricks of the acoustic trade abound in this room: The walls were built slightly askew for uniform sound, special panels can be modified for electric or acoustic musicians and all the sound is piped through state-of-the-art microphones, consoles, amplifiers and loudspeakers. “People tell us that not only can they hear the vocalists, they can understand what they’re singing, too,” Wolpert says. The room has some knowledgeable fans—last winter, British singer-songwriter legend Richard Thompson added an extra night to his O‘ahu appearances just to perform there. 1144 Bethel St., 545-2468,

Best Annual Event
Punahou Carnival
(Readers’ Pick)

photos: courtesy of Punahou

The Punahou Carnival has become such an Island tradition that many event-goers have even developed their own carnival routines. “One retired coach I know shows up at the carnival, buys a hot dog and heads straight to the art gallery,” says schools spokeswoman Laurel Bowers Husain. “There’s so much variety, everyone can have a favorite.” Visitors looking for local grinds seek out malassadas, teri burgers and Portuguese bean soup. Thrill-seekers usually step right up to classic E.K. Fernandez rides such as the Swings and to newer, stomach-turning attractions such as the Inverter. And bargain hunters make a beeline for the carnival’s art gallery and white-elephant sale. It’s no wonder the two-day February event can draw up to 100,000 people each year. 1601 Punahou St., 944-5711.