I’ve never been keen on dining and drinking in Waikiki for its never-ending traffic and tough parking, but with a revamped menu by chef Lance Kosaka, and a new director of mixology, Jennifer Ackrill, on board, the Top of Waikiki is aiming to become a pau hana and late-night happy hour destination.
The first drink served is one of only three cocktails carried over from the previous bar menu, the Top of Waikiki. Light and dark rum is mixed with passion fruit puree and pineapple for a sweet cocktail with an acidic kick ($5 during happy hour, $10)
I attended a special cocktail tasting to sample the new drink menu and meet Ackrill. Most recently from San Francisco’s burgeoning bar scene, she brings over 17 years of mixology experience. She’s easygoing and passionate about her craft, and made the tasting fun, informative and tasty.
Ackrill is a lively presence behind the bar and shares her wealth of mixology knowledge with her guests.
One of my favorite cocktails was the Molokai Mule ($7 happy hour, $11). Instead of using ginger beer, Ackrill uses a ginger liqueur with a nice bite.
Parking is free with validation in the Waikiki Business Plaza on Kalakaua Ave. Top of Waikiki has two happy hours, one from 4:30-7 p.m. and another from 9-11 p.m. Cocktails start at $5 during happy hour and pupus, $8.
Ackrill keeps her recipes in these two bound notebooks. Yes, those are some of the drinks we sampled in the background.
Ackrill uses a formula for all her cocktails to maintain balance. Her signature style involves zesting citrus into the drink and rubbing the rim of the glass with the oil from the peel before serving.
The Firerock ($7 happy hour $11) is similar to an alcoholic pink grapefruit drink. Her take on a gin sour, she uses strawberries to bring a little bit of sweetness to a drink that makes you pucker.
Top of Waikiki
2270 Kalakaua Ave. 18th Floor
4:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.