Must-Try Oʻahu Bars for Your Next Vacation

If you’re looking for libations, from cold beers to craft cocktails, these local destinations have you covered.
May Heydaywaikiki
Photo: Courtesy of Heyday

After a long day swimming, hiking, shopping or just exploring O‘ahu, you might be ready for a drink. Here’s a roundup of a few of our favorite local watering holes to get you started, whether you’re looking for places with modern elegance, oldschool charm, or secret hideaways. (Just remember to drink responsibly.) 


For Old School Waikīkī Vibes: Chart House Waikīkī 


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For an island, O‘ahu has surprisingly few bars at the water’s edge. The Chart House is one of those rare spots; it’s also a local landmark that has been serving visitors and kama‘āina since 1968. Get a taste of old-school Waikīkī here, whether you’re enjoying Chart House’s award-winning “Guy Tai” ($14), made with Bacardi and Myers’s rum, or owner Joey Cabell’s signature margarita ($15), made with Cimarron blanco tequila, Grand Marnier, and a splash of fresh lime and orange juices, served blended or on the rocks. 

The food menu here is equally renowned, especially for seafood lovers. Try the jumbo oysters Rockefeller (four for $25), crabcake ($15), or herb-crusted ‘ahi ($43) seared with ginger and garlic and served with ponzu butter—plus enjoy a pound or more of live Maine lobster or Alaskan red king crab legs every day at market price. If your appetite’s bigger than your wallet, score 15% off all pūpū in the bar during happy hour, which runs from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 2 to 5:30 p.m. weekends, and again from 9:15 to 10:15 p.m. daily. 

 1765 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 941-6669,, @charthousehi 

For Modern Waikīkī Vibes: Heyday 


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Heyday is a contemporary throwback to Waikīkī of the late 1960s. Stop in for a drink (or a swing—yes, there are swings!) at the cabana bar with cocktails such as a cool Fête 75 ($13), a mix of prosecco, gin, elderflower, and fresh cucumber and lemon; or a Daiquiri Number Fun ($15), featuring a blend of rums plus local lilikoʻi, lychee, and lime juices. Pair it with the perfect light lunch—the Continental fusion menu includes a BLT ($15) with smoked ono (wahoo) salad; meatballs ($16) in a Korean kalbi glaze, served with pickled cucumber, Koha kimchi and scallions; and specialty toasts prepared with shrimp, cilantro and sesame seeds ($17) or gooey Gruyère, smoked mozzarella and fontina cheese ($11). 

White Sands Hotel, 431 Nohonani St., (808) 475-6864,, @heydayhawaii 

For the After-Work Crowd: Square Barrels 


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Blend in with the business crowd at Square Barrels, an upscale pub in Bishop Square in Downtown Honolulu that boasts a hefty selection of whiskeys and beers, both local and abroad. Go-to beverages here include Death to Tyrants ($25), a blend of Sazerac rye, Port Charlotte single malt whisky, green chartreuse, and Bénédictine liqueur, all smoked with juniper; and the Deuce-9 Off Suit ($16), made with Square Barrels’ own private reserve Maker’s Mark bourbon plus lemon and coriander.  

Don’t leave without trying the pasta; sauces include the house pomodoro, a four-cheese blend, local clams, and lobster—then you choose toppings, such as shrimp, mussels, Italian sausage, grilled chicken and more. There’s also an impressive assortment of smash burgers in the $14 range (before optional add-ons, like bacon, fried eggs, or guacamole), all made from a mix of beef brisket and cured pork belly. 

Bishop Square, 1001 Bishop St. #108, (808) 524-2747,, @squarebarrels 

For Cocktail Aficionados: Blind Ox 


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Go around the back to find the entrance to this Kapahulu speakeasy and be sure to nod a respectful hello to the life-sized statue of a (blindfolded) ox once you’re inside. Needless to say, Blind Ox is far from your run-of-the-mill bar and we’ll drink to that—with heady cocktails, such as Viva La Matcha ($22), a powerful combo of jasmine-infused tequila, matcha green tea, honey, elderflower, fresh lemon, and coconut foam; and Kapahulu Sunrise ($19), a blend of Hawaiian agricole rums (made from freshly pressed cane sugar instead of fermented juice or molasses), falernum, honeydew, cinnamon, mint, lime and playful bubbles because, why not? Blind Ox’s menu is as decadent as the libations; try the bone marrow ($28) from locally raised Kiawe Ranch cattle, served with Tabasco bacon, trumpet mushroom duxelle, sugar snap peas, and a Suntory Toki whisky demi glace; or the gold popcorn chicken ($28), brined in barley and pickle juice, cooked sous vide in duck fat, battered in buttermilk, then crusted in cornflakes and 24-karat gold. 

829 Kapahulu Ave., (808) 254-6369,, @blindoxhawaii 

For the Ultimate Dive: Proof Social Club 

Located on tiny Chaplain Lane off Fort Street Mall on the outskirts of Chinatown, Proof Social Club may look rough on the outside, but pull up a seat at the bar anyway for gentle cocktails, including Queen of Thorns ($11), a floral combo of Prairie vodka, rose, and Risata Rosé; and We Are the Weirdos, Mister ($11), made with Camarena tequila, mango, lemongrass, and ghost pepper bitters. (Of course, if you’re just looking for a beer and a shot, Proof’s got that too.) 

On the weekends beginning at 10 a.m., Proof becomes a stellar brunch spot. You can’t go wrong with Madame Egg ($14), a pile of baked eggs, provolone, bacon onion jam on house ciabatta, served with mixed greens and rotating sides; Midwestern Welcome ($14), a 14-inch breakfast pizza made with mozzarella, sausage, bacon, eggs, hash browns and gravy; or build-your-own frittatas that serve two to four people for $25. Or swing by any night (except Sunday) to check out Proof’s glass display case, which offers a medley of rotating pies that can be ordered by the slice. 

1154 Fort Street Mall #10, (808) 537-3080,, @proofsocialclub 

For Those in The Know: Wild Orange 

Easily the most secretive spot on this list is Wild Orange, hidden somewhere inside Hawaiian Brian’s Social Club. Wild Orange has no website and (astonishingly) no social media presence; to get in, pop a nickel in a vending machine and you’ll unlock a secret passage to this dark lounge. Inside, the walls are lined with the backlit facades of ’70s-era slot machines, like stained-glass windows in some church of vice (from when Hawaiian Brian’s actually got busted decades ago for operating an illegal gambling den in this same space).  

Absolve yourself with $15 cocktails, including Matty’s Blessing, made with locally produced Kō Hana rum agricole, fresh lime, grapefruit and cinnamon; an Oaxacan Old-Fashioned made with El Silencio mezcal, fresh agave, bitters and smoked cinnamon; or an umeshu (plum wine) highball featuring Yamazaki whisky, shiso leaf, yuzu citrus and bubbly grapefruit Chu-Hi. The food selection is all-vegan and includes a miso Caesar salad ($7), sweet soy Kabayaki-style glazed asparagus ($6) and hoisin mushroom bao (two for $7). 

Hawaiian Brian’s Social Club, 1680 Kapi‘olani Blvd., 2nd Floor 

Categories: Oʻahu, O‘ahu Guides, O‘ahu Where To Eat, Restaurants