Let the Oahu Cocktail Revolution Begin

by Justin D'Olier on May 31, 2012 | (2) Comments |

This evening, Pint and Jigger will open their doors at 1936 South King Street, across the street – and down a tad – from Alan Wong’s. The bar is a collaboration between celebrated local bartender’s Dave Newman (formerly of Nobu) and Jonathan Schwalbenitz (formerly of Murphy’s). They will feature 21 beers on tap, 50 more available by the bottle, a seasonally rotating cocktail menu, and food designed to pair with the drinks.

This is the extent to which I can objectively write about the opening of Pint and Jigger.

Aside from being one of Hawaii’s best bartenders – don’t take my word for it, he recently won the Grey Goose Cherry Noir cocktail competition – Dave Newman is also my good friend. So, even if Dave didn’t make imaginitive, classicaly inspired, panty moistenting cocktails and wasn’t such a gracious, humble barman, I would want him to succeed. But, when you couple my affinity for Dave’s drinks with my affinity for Dave, it is impossible for me to provide a reasonably measured summary of the significance of the opening of Pint and Jigger.

So stow your objectivity in the overhead bin, put your tray table into a closed and locked position and prepare for the takeoff of a seminal moment in Hawaii’s fledgling cocktail history.

Pint and Jigger

I wonder if they'll have Bud Light Lime on tap.

Pint and Jigger isn’t a bar. Pint and Jigger is a declaration that the cocktail movement has arrived on O’ahu (or, at the least, has rented a two bedroom walk-up in Makiki and is going to see how it takes to island life). If the Hawaii cocktail movement was a porn flick, Pint and Jigger opening would be the pool boy giving the busty housewife a back massage.

Short of Mila Kunis opening a burlesque club in my attic – Mila, if you’re reading this, I’m willing to give you a sweetheart deal on rent – I could not possible be more excited for the start of the Pint and Jigger era.

Why am I so excited?

I spent the past week and a half in New York City, up to my liver in amazing cocktails. In a three block radius in the East Village alone, there are enough drinks to keep Ernest Hemmingway loaded long enough to write The Old Man and The Sea 2: Colder, Darker, and Rainier. Mayahuel. Death and Co. Amor y Amargo. Employee’s Only. PDT. If you trip and fall in the East Village you land in a glass of overproof bourbon and craft bitters.

These bars don’t just serve good drinks. They transcend the idea of a cocktail and serve liquid performance art. Mayahuel has a drink list that must span seven pages and include over 75 drinks – if I’m off on my estimations, please excuse me, I left more than a little intoxciated – based only on tequila, mezcal, and various other esoteric cactus spirits you probably haven’t even heard of. To enter PDT – a modern reenvisioning of a speakeasy – you walk down the steps in a hipster hotdog hovel, walk past a row of classic video games, and enter a phone booth (yes, a phone booth) in the side of the restaurant. When you pick up the phone, the bar manager answers and let’s you know if and when they have available seats. If they do, the phone booth wall slides away revealing a dimly lit cocktail bar. Mindblowing.

A few blocks away, Booker and Dax fuses cocktails and science in the sexiest union since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The drinks are paradoxically both staggeringly simple and utterly complex. Their gin and juice has only two ingredients: grapefruit juice and gin. Only they put the gin and juice mixture into a centrifuge, spin in at 16,000 4,500 RPM to clairfy the liquid by extracting the solids. Then they carbonate the resulting mixture with delightfully tiny bubbles that dance on your palatte and make hot, wet love to your taste buds. Short of jerking you off, I don’t know how anyone could make a better gin and juice. In fact, I’m pretty sure Booker and Dax experimented with a mid-drink tug job only to find that it distracted from the harmony of flavor.

(Booker and Dax deserves their own article and I will write at length about the sensational drinks, science, and service we received. For now, let me simply extend a thank you to bar manager Thomas Jones and bartender Josh Perez – formerly of Hawaii’s own 39 Hotel – for providing one of the best bar experience I have ever encountered. When you go to NYC, go to Booker and Dax, find Thomas and Josh and be prepared for an amazing evening.)

Mayhuel is why Pint and Jigger is so important.

PDT is why Pint and Jigger is so important.

Booker and Dax is why Pint and Jigger is so important.

You see, Pint and Jigger is the first bar on Oahu designed around the idea of providing you a world class drinking experience. There are an increasing number of barstools in the state where you can sit down and have an amazing cocktail and incredible service, but, before Pint and Jigger, not one designed with the drink at the epicenter.

This is certainly not meant as a slight to any existing establishment or a declarative fact by any stretch of the imagination, simply my assessment of the driving force, the spirit – if you’ll excuse the pun – of Pint and Jigger.

There are many reasons to get pumped about Pint and Jigger – craft beers, seasonal cocktail menu, two incredible bartenders, food specifically designed to pair with the drinks, cool atmosphere, etc… – but all of those are window dressing for the true significance of Pint and Jigger: a message to the State that the cocktail movement has arrived.

I don’t know if Pint and Jigger will survive. I don’t know if enough people will appreciate what Dave and Jon are trying to do. What I do know, is that Pint and Jigger represents a huge step in the right direction for the local cocktail scene.

Hawaii is not New York. We will never be New York. We don’t want to be New York. But, I’d like to think the islands are ready to step up and support a similarly world class cocktail scene.

So toss your objectivity aside and go enjoy the Mila Kunis burlesque show of new watering holes. Life’s too short to drink bad drinks.

2 responses to “Let the Oahu Cocktail Revolution Begin”

  1. Dave Newman says:

    You are far too kind sir! I do very much look forward to seeing you across the bar and shaking your hand. Please let me know when you and the Wine Pixie can sneak away for a night!