Keep Your Spirits Up at Hana Koa Brewing Co.’s Mezzanine Bar
The brewery’s not-so-secret upstairs bar offers craft cocktails you can’t get in the main dining room.
Editor’s note: The Mezzanine update its hours on Sept. 3, 2021, which are reflected below.
Bars are great and all, but if you really want to pique my interest, take me to a bar within a bar. Since two of my favorite speakeasies—Harry’s Hardware Emporium and Sky Waikīkī’s Backbar—closed, nothing has really excited me much on the cocktail front. Enter The Mezzanine.
It’s not exactly a speakeasy, but the upstairs bar inside Hana Koa Brewing Co. does offer an exclusive menu beyond the taps and cocktails available in the main dining area—no password required (though reservations are a great idea, as with everywhere right now. Make sure to specify you want the Mezz).
The space up here feels more intimate with about 15 tables and a beautiful bar, where my group of four sat. Along the right wall, the night’s featured cocktail and “secret tap list” are written in chalk. These beers, from the “beer crypt,” are small runs of old favorites. Director of operations Chrissie Pinney says they aren’t posted online or on social media, so you have to visit to see what’s available. When we stopped by, they included the Killin’ Me Smalls, Kū Hiō Barleywine and The George imperial stout.
You can order anything from Hana Koa’s regular menu—including food—up here, but the more upscale Mezzanine menu has twice as many cocktails as the downstairs bar, including seven classics, five modern drinks (such as the Penicillin and the Naked and Famous, with credit to their creators along with the descriptions), plus 10 house cocktails and different spirits.
I started with the appropriately named Start Me Up ($16), with coffee-infused Kōloa cacao rum, rye whiskey, orgeat and nutmeg transporting me to a wintry night around the fire. One of my drinking buddies ordered the featured cocktail, a delicate balance of tequila, mezcal, lime, liliko‘i and honey. Another friend always orders the Surprise Me (market price) from beverage director/bar manager/”Spirit Guide” Curtis Daulerio, who also served a mean bartender’s choice back when he was slinging drinks at Harry’s Hardware Emporium. My friend’s only request for his second drink was that it come in the Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) mug staring us down from the corner of the bar all night, but the refreshing combo of ginger, calamansi, liliko‘i and tequila got high points from us, too.
After some bar snacks (I love the $10 smoked marlin toast), we went a bit more adventurous with the Dr. Claw ($15), an onion-based drink. This is not the pickled pearl onion you might expect, but green onion and cucumber infused vodka with aperol and lemon, garnished with a two-inch stalk of green onion. The garnishes here really make the drinks. Seward’s Folly ($16) caught my eye with green chartreuse and lavender bitters, though it was the Dry Orange Curaçao whose flavor stood out at first. But when my orange peel fell off, the drink was a little flat—we ended up passing a peel back and forth so that two of us could enjoy our cocktails fully.
Unlike Hana Koa, which is open by noon six days a week, The Mezzanine is only open from 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It wasn’t too busy at 5:30 on a weekday but had filled up by the time we left.
Pro tip: If the parking lot is full, there’s a tiny secondary one on the other side of the building, but you’ll need sharp reverse parking skills.