Meet your shaker: Hawaii Cocktail Week debuts in February

Did one of our suggested remedies get you over your New Year hangover? If it worked, get ready to use it again—coming next month is the first Honolulu Cocktail Week, slated for Feb. 16-23. Organized by Hawaii Bitters’ Mike Prasad (is he a busy guy or what?), it promises to be a multi-venue event attracting bartenders from across the country and the Pacific Rim.

Honolulu was slow to catch the new cocktail wave. It all started with “king of cocktails” Dale DeGroff’s residency at the Halekulani in 2004 (before that, you were lucky to find a decent mojito in this town), where his acolytes would go to see him handle his special extra-hard ice and shakers. (His influence can still be sipped at Lewers Lounge, and in the current drinks of Tim Rita, at 53 by the Sea—for now.) Since then a handful of island-based stars have emerged, and many of them (Chandra Lam Lucariello, Dave Newman, Christian Self, Kyle Reutner) are taking part in HCW, along with New York cocktail queens and kings Julie Reiner and Brian Miller, Paul Sanguinetti of Ray’s and Stark Bar in Los Angeles, and Julian Cox from Playa and Picca Peru, also in Los Angeles.

Of course you’ve got to have something to soak up all the carefully crafted booze, and participating eateries include the Whole Ox Deli, V Lounge, R&D, Beachhouse at the Moana and Lucky Belly. Anticipate cocktail-pairing dinners, workshops, and lots of tastings. HONOLULU Magazine is the local media sponsor of this exciting inaugural event, so watch us for all the updates on the cocktail-pairing dinners, workshops, seminars and, of course, all the tasting events. You'll want to move fast — some sessions have very limited seating. Tickets will be on sale soon through at

Lesa Griffith is writing guest posts for Biting Commentary while food editor Martha Cheng is on vacation.