Food & Drink

The Most Beautiful Bars in Honolulu

Published On 01/19/2016 Published On 01/19/2016

Sure, when talking bars, it’s what’s on the inside that counts (alcohol), but sometimes you just want to swirl your highball amidst a sparkly backdrop, and leave the damp bars with the cheap beer and touch-screen games for another day. While drinking in paradise is a beautiful thing regardless of the scenery, we narrowed down our favorite aesthetically pleasing watering holes -- beer goggles not necessary.

Lewers Lounge

Lewers Lounge

Waikiki

If James Bond were to ever hunt down bad guys in Honolulu, this upscale lounge would be his first post-victory stop for a shaken, not stirred martini -- and not just because there’s a drink named after him. No T-shirts and beachwear are allowed at this Waikiki bar, and tiki torches and surfboard décor give way to dim lighting, a dark wood interior, and retro loveseats. Nightly live jazz is the soothing soundtrack to evenings of whispering in your date’s ear over strong cocktails.

RumFire

RumFire

Waikiki

With breezy views of Diamond Head, this beachside bar would be beautiful even if it were outfitted with plastic chairs and foldout tables. But since its view happens to be designed with open-air VIP poolside cabanas, plush modern upholstery, fire pits, and a fiery back-lit bar, this cocktail lounge is more than just a pretty ocean view.

The Modern Honolulu

The Study

Waikiki

If studying were this swanky, we probably would never have graduated from college. Every afternoon at 5pm in The Modern’s lobby, a wall of books gives way to a hidden nook filled with minimalist white accents, mood lighting, and plush sofas and armchairs. Somehow, even the chic bathroom décor makes for an Instagram-worthy backdrop. You can pull an all-nighter with your friends in The Study, this time with a handcrafted cocktail.

Buho Cocina y Cantina

Buho Cocina y Cantina

Waikiki

If there’s a hole in your soul that can only be filled with guacamole, this upscale Mexican restaurant and bar just may answer the call. Well-seasoned smashed avocados aside, the open-air rooftop lounge offers some serious eye caramelo, with shaded railing tables, umbrella-capped patio seating, ivy-covered walls, and an artfully designed 55ft bar spanning nearly the entire length of the patio. Even the small indoor enclave treats the eyes with modern light fixtures and a view of the dark-wooden accents.

SKY Waikiki

Waikiki

Hovering on the 19th floor of a Waikiki skyscraper, this new rooftop bar offers all the sweeping birds' eye views you never knew you were missing. By day, grab some fresh air and take in panoramic views of Diamond Head and turquoise shades of the Pacific. By night, watch city lights flicker on from the wrap-around lanai. When it gets too “cold,” warm your hands around the custom fire pit, or head indoors and mingle around the stained glass bar backdrop and 30ft video wall. On the weekends, the lounge transforms into a nightclub -- put on your glittery outfits and show off your dance moves (or disguise them) in the crowd.

The Safehouse

The Safehouse

Ala Moana

This tucked-inside-a-concert-hall lounge has the allure of an intimate modern-day speakeasy: sleek white bar stools, that dark-paneled bar, and sparkling chandeliers that would’ve made Jay Gatsby proud. A sanctuary away from the nearby shopping mall bars, The Safehouse is a relaxing stop for sipping signature craft cocktails next to a giant, floor-to-ceiling poster of an unnamed tattooed-and-bearded fellow.

Waiolu Ocean View Lounge

Wai'olu Ocean View Lounge

Waikiki

Just before dusk at the Trump International Hotel’s sixth floor lounge, with the silhouette of palm trees against the horizon and twinkling cityscape, it almost feels as though you’re in a different city -- if not for the ocean view. Sliding, cherrywood-paneled doors separate the indoor bar from the open-air lanai, where white-cushioned sectionals and sleek café tables line the balcony. Inside, recessed lighting highlights the interior’s leather seats and black marble bar, where the backlit liquor collection features drips of absinthe. Here, you can sip the once-banned spirit the old fashioned way -- slowly diluted with water, under a sugar cube. Pretend you’re an early-20th century French painter, plotting your next masterpiece.

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Summer Nakaishi is a freelance writer for Thrillist and is busy counting down the days until her next adult beverage.

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1. Lewers Lounge 2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815-1936 (Waikiki)

This eponymous lounge at the corner of Kalia Road and Lewers Street is one of the classiest joints island wide. With nightly jazz engagements, you can sip craft cocktails while listening to the smooth sounds of local and internationally renowned musicians.

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2. RumFire 2255 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815 (Waikiki)

RumFire, the idyllic beachside lounge at The Sheraton, has a long list of rum cocktails and shareable, global street food-inspired small plates. You can laze in a cabana, listen to live music, watch the sunset over Waikiki Beach, and sip on a Mai Tai, but arguably the best thing to do is indulge in Kung Pao Brussel Sprouts, mahi tacos, fried Korean wings, or Tatas (truffle fries). If you can’t pick from the huge drink menu, they provide pairing suggestions with all of their food.

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3. The Study 1775 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96815 (Waikiki)

By day, an unassuming library; by night, a slyly sophisticated hotspot. That's the Study for you in a nutshell. Located in the swanky Modern Hotel, The Study serves top notch cocktails and spirits come 5pm when the bookshelves in the hotel lobby rotate to reveal a fully functional bar.

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4. Buho Cocina y Cantina 2250 Kalakaua Ave, Level 5, Honolulu, HI 96815 (Waikiki)

This upscale Mexican restaurant serves up interesting Hawaiian twists on your classic Mexican dishes. Think: Kauai shrimp ceviche, Jidori chicken tacos and Kulana beef nachos. Plus they have a swoon-worth outdoor rooftop lounge area with stunning views and a 55 foot bar.

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5. SKY Waikiki 2270 Kalakaua Ave Fl 19, Honolulu, HI 96815 (Waikiki)

SKY is a swanky rooftop lounge located on the 19th floor of a Waikiki skyscraper that serves shareable American options to you and your friends on the L-shaped couches. It offers thick, SKY-branded burgers and a host of finger foods like tuna sashimi pizza with spicy mayo on a fried wonton crust, Garlic Chicken Sliders, pizza rolls served with ranch (AKA the only acceptable way), and smoked pork pizza with kabayaki sauce and sriracha. You can share a punch bowl like the Ultra Violet (vodka, Cremé De Violette, lime, orange, and lavender bitters) or go your own way and sip on the foam-topped Deconstructed Mai Tai while you drink in the panoramic views of Waikiki.

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6. The Safehouse 1349 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814 (Ala Moana)

Tucked away inside The Republik Nightclub, The Safehouse is a cozy lounge serving up small plates and killer handcrafted cocktails.

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7. Wai'olu Ocean View Lounge 223 Saratoga Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815 (Waikiki)

Situated inside the Trump International Tower, the Wai'olu Lounge serves up classic cocktails against the backdrop of the always gorgeous Waikiki Beach.

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