Working in Waikiki and living close by, I don’t often venture into the Chinatown area.
My loss, considering there are tons of great restaurants and bars here, making it the hub of Honolulu’s local nightlife.
A lot of the bars also host DJs and turn into hybrid-clubs on weekends (and get totally packed on First Fridays), creating a totally different experience from what I got when having happy hour drinks on a weekday.
Bar 35 on Hotel Street is somewhat near the center of all these bars, restaurants, clubs, and lounges, and could by itself probably qualify as all four.
While it has a reputation for being packed on Friday nights, arriving during happy hour on a Thursday found the bar quiet and sparsely populated.
It’s the perfect atmosphere to get drinks after work or to start off the night.
I can’t praise Bar 35’s happy hour enough: it’s one of the best offerings I’ve seen on the island.
To start, happy hours extends from 4pm (when the bar opens) up til 9pm, Tuesdays through Fridays, and they have a variety of beers and martinis for $3 to $5—a great deal, if you ask me.
Their beer selection is pretty impressive as well—even rivaling the craft pubs down in Kaka’ako—making it a great bar for beer lovers.
The martini cocktails are the type that taste good and look pretty, which admittedly isn’t my favorite, but at $3.75 a glass I had no complaints whatsoever.
The Bar 35 Mai Tai was a good drink, though somewhat reminiscent of their martinis.
They used a mix of pineapple, orange, and lime juice with triple sec, which made for a sweet, delicious drink.
As for spirits, the base of the drink was castillo light rum, according to the menu, while the dark rum float used kraken, though you couldn’t tell from looking at the drink.
In terms of presentation, the Bar 35 Mai Tai comes in a little mason jar with a glass handle, which goes really well with the bare-brick walls of the bar.
Although black rum is used for the float, it’s only visible as a slight gradient near the top.
It’s nowhere near as dramatic as the Harbor Pub’s Mai Tai, for comparison.
The alcohol in general doesn’t really come out in the drink, and the lack of any garnishes allows the fruit juices to dominate the flavor of the cocktail—which isn’t bad considering the it tasted really good.
I can’t write a “last word” on Bar 35 just yet, as the place is completely different on a Friday night compared to it’s weekday happy hour atmosphere.
Without a doubt, it’s worth a visit during happy hour if you’re ever near Chinatown in the early evening, and I’ll definitely be returning to 35 to check out the weekend scene sometime in the future.