SKY Waikīkī’s BACKBAR Serves Creative Cocktails Hidden Behind a Wall
The speakeasy is now open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until closing.
SKY Waikīkī’s new BACKBAR, a speakeasy that requires a password to get in.
Photo: Courtesy of SKY Waikīkī
Part of the allure of a speakeasy is its secretiveness, with hidden entrances, passwords you must acquire ahead of time and a totally different vibe from whichever bar or restaurant it’s attached to. That was the idea behind SKY Waikīkī’s swanky BACKBAR, which opened this past spring with the added mystery of only being open once a week for hand-picked guests.
“We didn’t wanna cheapen the venue and the room at all, so we were super selective as to how we brought people back here,” says director of mixology Jen Ackrill. “The first [group] was a bunch of bartenders around the city so that they could send people they knew would appreciate it—not just some guy who stumbled upon it after happy hour up here. He would not enjoy the difference in the experience because it’s not happy hour back here.”
The entrance to the BACKBAR is located in SKY’s outdoor patio.
Photos: Katrina Valcourt
As of Nov. 1, the BACKBAR is now open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until closing. To get in, make reservations at skywaikiki.com/thebackbar or find the password for the week saved to the highlighted stories of @SKYWaikiki on Instagram.
The bar, whose entrance is located on the Seaside Avenue side of SKY’s outdoor patio, is hidden behind a wall which can only be opened by a host once you say the password. An intimate outdoor space accommodates about 20 people at a time (there’s a 90-minute limit here) so they don’t have to fight for the bartender’s attention. “You don’t want it to be like, it was beautiful, but I didn’t get a drink. We just wanna make sure everybody has a drink in their hand. The room is useless if you’re not enjoying [yourself],” Ackrill says.
director of mixology Jen Akrill loves creating bespoke cocktails based on themes.
You won’t find any well drinks or typical cocktails at the BACKBAR—just a small curated list of SKY’s specialties. However, Ackrill prefers making bespoke cocktails, especially those based on movies or adjectives. One request for a drink based on the movie Blue Velvet was interpreted as a cocktail featuring color-changing butterfly pea flower syrup. “There’s a new menu every day, every minute, which is pretty cool,” she says. “And you can make it a two-experience thing. You can watch the sunset at SKY and have some cocktails and transition back here for a more intimate evening.” You can also order food from the kitchen until 8:30 p.m.
Drinks are pricier back here, as expected, but with views of the mountains and city from 19 floors up, a chance to test Ackrill’s skills and a quiet, exclusive place to get a drink in the middle of Waikīkī (with parking!) is worth it.
2270 Kalākaua Ave., 19th Floor, open 5 to 11 p.m. weekdays, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays, closed Mondays, validated parking in the Waikīkī Business Plaza and Waikīkī Shopping Plaza, (808) 979-7590, skywaikiki.com/thebackbar, @SKYWaikiki
Read more about SKY Waikīkī’s award-winning cocktails in the December Hale ‘Aina issue of HONOLULU.