Bottleheads Is Kailua’s New Bottle Shop, Café and Local Foods Purveyor
The only place you can have your wine with Breadshop grilled cheese sandwiches and ‘Ahi Assassins poke.
Walking back from Kailua’s Lōkahi Market on Uluniu Street on a recent Sunday, I see something new. Inside a glass-fronted space that used to be a hair studio are new displays of wine and spirits. Refrigerated cases hold food and craft beer, dine-in tables line the windows, and a hand-lettered sign announces $8 mimosas and “off-centered ales for off-centered people.” Bottleheads is open!
I have been waiting ever since Frolic assistant editor Thomas Obungen alerted me about this upcoming spot in July. Why am I excited? So many reasons, starting with the fact that Kailua has no similar bottle shop and café. As I walk in, Uncle John’s Band by the Grateful Dead is playing from a corner behind a wine barrel. A roll of butcher paper hanging on the wall advertises today’s special: The Local General Store’s Portuguese sausage and furikake quiche for $13. The regular menu lists a grilled cheese sandwich made with Breadshop’s sourdough, pão de queijo Brazilian cheese bread from Nosh Hawai‘i, smoked marlin and fresh poke from ‘Ahi Assassins. Bottleheads isn’t just an exciting add to the Windward spirits scene—I’ve stumbled into an oasis of local foodie delights to match.
The flip side of the menu is dedicated to a dozen or so wines by the glass, a mix of old and new world, plus beer specials and liquors served neat. Delighted with my luck, I order one of everything on the food menu and a glass of sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. First to arrive is my wine—it’s nicely chilled, allowing notes of passion fruit, guava and grapefruit to sing. Its dry finish prepares my palate for the cheese plate ($10) with grapes, olives, nuts cooked in local honey, a sharp cheese and a soft, funky one. The cheeses are from Donato Loperfido’s Flavors of Italy and are available to go. The grilled cheese sandwich ($12) is straight out of a dream, the sourdough slices toasted to a buttery golden brown and offering an exemplary tang against an oozing blend of sharp cheddar, aged gouda and provolone. Pao de queijo ($10) are four warm, fluffy, gluten-free tapioca rolls drizzled with a fig preserve. Everything is served with a small salad of spring greens, in case you fear death by cheese (I have no such fear). In between cheesy bites I enjoy chunks of ‘Ahi Assassins smoked marlin poke; it’s funky with a superb saltiness. Bottleheads co-owner Courtney Scurto brings over a bar of Honoka‘a Chocolate Co. goat milk chocolate and I’m officially over the moon.
In the reefers against the back wall, in addition to the cheeses, are locally made condiments for sale: Scott Sauce, Jun’s Sauce, and spicy fried garlic chips and a tangy-spicy-sweet concoction made by Aloha WasaBee. And Islander Sake’s junmai daiginjo and liliko‘i sake. I can’t believe I’m seeing Hawai‘i’s only locally made sake on the Windward side. Scot Whigam, the shop’s other owner, tells me that he and Scurto were interviewed by brewer Chiaki Takahashi before she agreed to let them carry it. Also in the reefers, Kaka‘ako’s Hana Koa Brewing Co. and Delirium Tremens from Belgium share space with Billecart Salmon splits and other chilled selections. Among the lineup of spirits, Whigam, who spent decades in wine and spirit sales, walks me through a couple of his favorites: a Kuleana Rum Works rum from the Kawaihae distillery, aged and blended by spirit master Dave Perkins. Sonoma County’s Head High Wines, which supports Hawai‘i’s clean ocean initiatives and surfing community. Painted Fields wines from local commercial real estate broker Andy Friedlander’s Andis Wines in California.
I’ve visited Bottleheads several times now and I can’t help feeling at home. Maybe it’s all the local goodies, maybe it’s the easy pairings and conversation, maybe it’s the vibe. Anyway, I’m a fan and I can’t wait to return.