THE BAR ISSUE
Our annual ode to cool drinks, hot spots and general booze-fueled debauchery
October 21, 2010 | 09:15 AM
There is something visceral, timeless and uniquely human about gathering in a dimly lit room to socialize, commiserate and imbibe. We don't all drink, but we all understand the shared experience that is the neighborhood pub; through good times and bad, it embraces us without judgement, welcomes us without expectation and, yes, kicks us to the curb after last call.
Mai tai-centric tourist havens are what make Maui famous, but the Valley Isle boasts a wide array of watering holes—seedy dives, swanky establishments, lively sports bars. This annual issue is an ode to them all, to the servers and bartenders who toil in them, to the libations they offer and, most of all, to the weary souls who gather there.
Fun & Games
Bar diversions have a storied history, and Maui has some great places to partake
by Anu Yagi
Bulwarks like billiards, darts and table shuffleboard may be cardinal to the bar landscape—but at face value, pub games are counterintuitive. Drunks wielding domesticated weapons in the lust of competition? Genius.
Really, though, it is genius, in that these diversions can turn a passerby into a patron, a buyer into a barfly.
The history of how these frivolous tests of skill became immemorially linked to our houses of inebriation is both convoluted and contested. One thing is for sure—no matter what your game of choice, booze has a way of bringing out our sporting nature.
Let's explore a little of the history and how-to behind these games—and which Valley Isle hubs offer playing fields and peeps to play with.
Cue sports were born of lawn games like the English's croquet and the Italians' bocce, brought indoors while players weathered winters. There are dozens—nay, hundreds—of ways to play with these balls, but for our local-centric purposes, I'll touch on a pocket billiards game variation called "Honolulu." The general rules of pocket billiards apply, but according to Billiards, the official rules and records book edited by the Billiards Congress of America, Honolulu is "a unique and fascinating [game] that confronts the player with an unending kaleidoscope of strategic and shot-making challenges. Essentially [a] game of one-rack call-shot... the critical difference being absolutely no 'straight-in' shots are allowed," meaning that every legally pocketed shot must be achieved in an indirect fashion (i.e. banks, combinations, kisses, etc.).
The game of darts is said to have originated as a version of close-quarters archery, says preeminent dart historian Patrick Chaplin, Ph.D. Other historians add that it began with soldiers tossing arrows (a synonym for darts to this day) into upturned tree stumps or barrel bottoms, the natural cracks and crevasses lending to the standard dartboard's twenty, pie slice-shaped divisions (each with two "single sectors," that earn a "sector score"—or number associated with the area—plus one "double area" and one "treble area" sliver, which earn multiples of the sector score).
According to the World Darts Federation, when situating a dart board, a plumb line from the center of the bullseye to the floor should measure 5' 8", with the throwing line (known as "ochie," pronounced "okkey" in dart speak), being at least 2' wide and positioned at a distance of 7' 9.25" from the outermost edge of the dart board. These specifics are often adjusted to fit a venue's layout, but regardless of the setup and house rules, the federation says that most importantly, "a game of darts always starts, and ends, with a handshake."
Table shuffleboard is played with pucks in hand, whereas deck shuffleboard is played with cues manipulating the pucks. Silicone beads, sometimes referred to as "shuffleboard cheese," are spread atop the table to reduce friction. Scoring can be tracked on large abacus-like beads mounted at the sides of the table, with players or teams of players taking turns shoving pucks down the length of a table, toward scoring sections that denote possible points. However, players can thwart an opponent's progress by choosing to knock their pucks out of scoring-range or out of play into what's called the "gutter" or "alley." Though stringent rules exist in multifarious forms through various organizations, it's generally a relatively informal game; the number of points you play to—usually 21—and the exactness with which the points are achieved are up to you.
WHERE TO PLAY
On the South side, Diamonds Ice Bar (1279 S. Kihei Rd.; 879-9299) is home to a sampling of each of our featured pub games, with the owners going so far as to seek out a sleek shuffleboard table from makers in California. Pool is priced at a buck a game, and inspires impromptu tournaments among die-hard players. Darts and shuffleboard are free to play—just ask your bartender for the Tupperware container of pucks or wooden box of steel-tipped house darts. Their sister location, Dog & Duck Irish Pub (1913 S. Kihei Rd.; 875-9669) is a darts hub, too. Plus, regulars there are often seen playing checkers or cards out back. Meanwhile, friendly hubs like Kahale's Beach Club (36 Keala Place; 875-7711) and Mulligan's on the Blue (100 Kaukahi St.; 874-1131) will happily let you bring along cards or boardgames, if that's your sort of thing.
Central Maui is home to a few notable places to rack 'em up. Sports bars like the Kahului Ale House (355 E. Kaahumanu Ave.; 877-9001) and Green Leaf (1088 Lower Main St.; 244-4888) are a good go-to, with the Ale House offering free pool on Wednesdays (regularly $1.50 a game), and Green Leaf hosting pool tournaments on Tuesdays. Take a cue from the regulars at Tiffany's (1424 Lower Main St.; 249-0052), who drop Pidgin while showcasing some mean English.
West-side billiard-lovers have Lulu's Lahaina Surf Club and Grill (Lahaina Cannery Mall; 661-0808) and Sly Mongoose (1036 Limahana Pl.; 661-8097) to choose from, and Upcountry/North-shore folk are bound to Charley's Restaurant & Saloon (142 Hana Hwy.; 579-9453). Also, I'd be remiss to not mention appropriate-for-all-ages arcade games—the best locale for which can be found upstairs at the Wharf Cinema Center's Cool Cat Cafe (658 Front Street; 667-0908).
Local distillery embraces sustainability and time-honored methods and, oh yeah, makes a damn good rum
by Jen Russo
The first thing that hits you at the distillery is the aroma. I happened to drop in when the fermenting molasses was emitting a swarming sweet and heady smell, but Haleakala Distillers manager Brian Sato assured me that there are also some not-so-pleasant smells that come from the small-pot distillery.
Jim and Leslie Sargent started Haleakala Distillers seven years ago, and in that time their products have increased in both popularity and availability, gracing bars and retail outlets islandwide. I talked with Jim to the get the low-down on local rum production.
When did you start making rum?
We started the distillery in 2003 but didn't sell anything to the pubic until 2004. Though I had worked for Gallo many years ago, the bulk of my distillation knowledge has been acquired through self-study and experimentation.
What does Haleakala Distillers do?
Haleakala Distillers is a small, family-owned craft distillery [and] the first Hawaiian distillery of any kind since the 1970s or so. We had no base of expertise and no local inventory of equipment to draw on. We've always endeavored to produce a true Maui craft product in small volumes. We've won eight medals over the last four years.
What was your first rum?
A Braddah Kimo's 80-proof gold rum. It's no longer in production, but was succeeded by the similar, more refined Maui Gold Rum.
What rums are you making now and what are the flavor profiles in each of your rums?
Our Maui Dark Rum offers hints of dark chocolate, coffee, nuts and cherries, although none of these are ingredients. It is the darkest rum available and makes the perfect float on top of a true Maui mai tai. Maui Gold Rum reminds many people of toffee or butterscotch. It has most of the dark flavor profile, but [it's] much more subtle. It's a popular sipping rum. Maui Platinum Rum is a mixing rum, with very little flavor of its own, specifically finished to allow the fruit flavors in a mixed drink to shine. Most folks tasting it can get a sense of vanilla and a sweet background note. Braddah Kimo's Extreme 155 Proof Rum is also recognized for a nice clean, sweet vanilla note. Maui Reserve Gold Rum is similar to un-aged Maui Gold Rum, but with more oak tones and subtle hints of spice and a rounder, more sophisticated palate, due to the time in the oak. Our Maui Okolehao Liqueur tastes like nothing else in captivity because it's made from East Maui ti roots, which have many subtle and unusual flavors. Some people have told us it reminds them of Amaretto, others of a very sweet spiced rum, but without the rum burn.
What makes Maui rum special?
Our rums are special because they are: true handcrafted Maui products; produced in such small quantities that they are some of the rarest spirits on earth; the most-awarded spirits in the Pacific Basin; and unavailable on most of the U.S. Mainland and in no other country.
Why is so much rum produced in the tropics?
Rum is actually made everywhere there is either sugarcane or molasses available to ferment. The Hawaiian Islands became a rum production area as soon as sugar began to be planted in the 1800s.
How hard is it to distill rum?
Rum is the most complex spirit to make. There are over 600 congeners [flavor elements] which we must work with to balance out into a well-tempered, drinkable rum. The most expensive wines and scotches have a quarter and half as many congeners, respectively, making rum a far greater challenge to perfect as there are many more things which can go wrong. Here on Maui we have the freshest molasses to use, of very high quality, which gives us an advantage over virtually every other distillery.
Where can we get Maui rum?
Our products are available on every inhabited Hawaiian Island except for Niihau. Lots of visitors buy here and take back in their checked luggage, as this is totally acceptable to the airlines and airport security. You can get the product at a few retailers in California, but they are often out of stock and must charge higher prices to cover the transportation. Internet sales are conducted by only one retailer, hitimewine.net, to about 40 states. We've received e-mails from fans in over 50 countries wanting to know when the product will be available locally to them. You can find a list of locations at haleakaladistillers.com.
Talk about your bottle recycling program.
The bottle recycling program is unique in the U.S. as far as we can tell. We're not recycling the glass material but reusing the entire bottle. This saves energy and makes Maui way less dependent on imports. It also helps some of our customers reduce their disposal bills, as they have to pay to get rid of competitors' empty bottles, whereas we pay them to take away ours. When the bottles come back to the distillery they go through a rigorous wash in a hospital-grade bottle washer, which leaves them cleaner than new bottles would be when they arrive. We got the idea from visiting Jamaica years ago, watching the locals reuse their own bottles by taking them from home to the distillery or to a bar, where the bottle could be refilled with their choice of spirit again and again. I had seen in historical photos and bottle collections on Maui that the old Haleakala Dairy premises, where we now have the distillery, used to deliver milk in returnable bottles, so I was inspired to bring back a time-honored custom once I realized how much ocean freight penalized us on incoming glass shipments. We bounced the idea off of a couple of large customers, like the Four Seasons Lanai and the Westin Maui, and they were very supportive of bottle reuse. It requires a minor amount of effort on their part, but they save money every time.
What does the future hold for Haleakala Distillers?
We hope that our future holds more of the same—making award-winning rums, helping Maui become a more sustainable destination and providing rewarding employment for the talented folks living on Maui.
by Jacob Shafer
Every good bartender (and Maui is blessed with more than its share) understands the job is equal parts mixology and psychology, with a dash of stand-up comedy and a twist of hard-earned wisdom.
Here are five fictional drink-slingers who combine at least some of those qualities, and whose bars we wouldn't mind bellying up to.
Moe Szyslak (The Simpsons) - From his unrequited love for Marge to his stint as a semi-professional boxer to his brush with fame via the "Flaming Moe," the proprietor of Homer's favorite watering hole is nothing if not memorable. Sure, he occasionally takes advantage of his loyal, beer-soaked regulars, and has threatened prank-calling Bart with all manner of unspeakable torture, but we'd let him pour us a Duff any time.
Woody Boyd (Cheers) - Ex-jock Sam Mallone gets all the girls, but Woody's wide-eyed farm boy was the real heart and soul of the eponymous Boston bar where everybody knows your name. Viewed through the prism of Harrelson's eclectic post-Cheers career, the character only gets better.
Lloyd (The Shining) - Memorably creepy minor characters are a dime a dozen in film and TV, but to stand out in Stanley Kubrick's wall-to-wall creep fest is no small feat. Yet Lloyd the bartender pulls it off. So much so, in fact, that 30 years later he has a Facebook fan page dedicated to him. Sample post: "I surveyed 100 women and asked them what shampoo they used when showering. 98 of them said, 'How did you get in here?"
Stephanie (Sideways) - An up-for-anything, tough-as-nails wine pourer in the heart of the Napa Valley who also happens to look like Sandra Oh? We'll take the whole bottle, please.
Wuher (Star Wars) - We're willing to overlook his surly demeanor and anti-droid bigotry (which, according to Wookieepedia, stemmed from the fact that "they took up space in the cantina and did not require refreshment") because of how nonchalant he was about having not one, but two aliens' guts splattered across his bar in the span of less than 20 minutes.
Dos and Don'ts
How to order...and not to order
by Jen Russo
As mixology gets more complicated, the wine lists get longer and craft beers go on tap, drinkers are blessed with an embarrassment of riches. Making an educated stab at what you want to order can be complex, and you don't want to sound like the duff fresh of the teetotaler train. To avoid that, here's your guide to being (or at least appearing) bar smart.
Don't: "I'll have a beer."
Do: "I'll have a Bikini Blonde on draft" or "I'll have a Bud Light in a bottle."
Specifics make the difference. Don't make your server coax it out of you. A draft beer comes from the tab, a bottle will be, well, a bottle. Domestic beer is American, import means it's of foreign origin.
Don't: "I don't know what I want."
Do: "Can you recommend something? I like tequila and citrus" or "What is your house white wine?"
It's OK to not know what you want—but you entered the bar. Be prepared to figure it out. Asking for recommendations is a good place to start. If you want a specific cocktail and you're not sure if they make it, just ask.
Don't: Say, "I'll have a lilikoi martini" and wait 'til it's in front of you to order the next drink for your compadre.
Do: Say, "I'll have a Sazerac, an Old Fashioned and Scotch on the rocks"
String your drink order together to save your bartender a headache. Don't worry—he or she can handle it.
Don't: "I'll have a vodka and soda with lime" when you want a specific vodka.
Do: "Corzo and grapefruit with lime."
Proper etiquette calls for the liquor first. Be specific if you're expecting a certain kind of alcohol. Well drinks and premium drinks have different brands in them. If you're not sure, ask to avoid misunderstanding.
Don't: Attempt to act sober when you're not.
Do: Ask a bartender to call you a cab.
Our service industry bar professionals can sniff out the drunk folks without olfactory glands. Over-service at a bar is a serious offense for Maui liquor license holding establishments. These folks have been trained and they deal with liquor consuming individuals day in and day out. Don't play them.
Don't: Be a drink dummy.
Do: Do your homework.
Cocktails and mixology are growing, allowing your palate an opportunity to get beyond that old rum and Coke and jager shot. Get a book, peruse recipes, figure out flavors you like. Find a liquor store that offers small bottles so you can taste something without a big commitment.
Some good words to use—and understand
Dry: When you order a dry martini, it means it'll have dry vermouth.
Frozen: A drink blended with ice.
Neat: Liquor with no ice, served in an Old Fashioned glass.
Rocks: Served on ice.
Up: Liquor chilled and strained into a martini glass.
With salt: A glass rimmed with salt.
In Search of the Perfect Daiquiri...
by Jen Russo
Recently, I've gained a newfound affinity for rum. So, on a recent trip to California, I headed straight for Hollywood's La Descarga to seek out their infamous daiquiri, created by Pablo Moix. Moix is a New York transplant who brings a keen sensibility to the mixology scene, developing beverage programs that are appealing, fiscally attentive and on trend. This drink has its roots in Cuba via Havana's El Floridita Bar and bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert. It is said Hemingway was a fan.
Daiquiri is a perfect menage a tois between rum, lime and sugar. What it is not is the blended abominations of sour mix and rum served at tourist bars here on Maui—sorry! Experimenting obsessively with the classic daiquiri recipe in my home bar, I've been tinkering with the types of rum, kinds of sugar and home-grown limes. What I loved about La Descarga's version was the cross section of lime garnish that floats on top of the drink. Next tip is to shake it hard and fast until frothy. As you sip the drink from the coupe, the lime naturally gravitates to the sipping point, and you seem to always be pulling the drink through and with the citrus. Simply fantastic.
2 oz. gold rum
1 oz. fresh-squeezed lime
2 teaspoons baker's sugar
Fill cocktail shaker with ice; smaller pieces are better to get a really good chill and froth. Add rum, lime and sugar. Shake well. Strain into chilled coupes
Some can't-miss Web sites for the libation enthusiast...
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