Crown Jewel Of Kaka‘ako


If you aren’t looking for 53 By The Sea, you probably won’t find it.

For those who already know about this sweet spot in Kaka‘ako, hidden at 53 Ahui St. near Point Panic, that might not be so bad! The picturesque views of Waikiki and Diamond Head from the wrap-around patio are what al fresco dining dreams are made of. After I watched the sunset, I grabbed a seat at the bar to peruse the menu and enjoy the live jazz combo playing recognizable tunes.

The bartender, Isaac, gave me the lowdown on the most popular drinks — Smokin’ Ol’ James and Pineapple Smash, both whiskey-based cocktails — but my eyes kept wandering to the Mac Nut Mai Tai. Mai Tais are delicious all on their own, but with macadamia nuts? Give me two! Isaac explained that the mac nuts are soaked in Orange Curacao and Bacardi Coconut Rum. The nuts are then dry-roasted in-house and served alongside every Mai Tai.

Based on Isaac’s suggestion, I went with the Smokin’ Ol’ James for my next round. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is not just a drink, it’s an experience. The drink is a strong blend of Jameson Irish Whiskey, Tawny Port and Orange Bitters on the rocks and topped with a burnt orange twist. Watching Isaac craft the drink was half the enjoyment! Admittedly, I wasn’t sure how I would like such strong flavors going up against one another, but the blend was so smooth all I could concentrate on was how aromatic and rich it tasted.

For my final round, I selected the Pineapple Smash (pictured) made with Templeton Rye Whiskey and a house-crafted pineapple mint syrup. It’s all poured over a whiskey ball (a slow-melting ice sphere) to limit the dilution of the drink. A strong pour of whiskey coupled with the mint was my initial impression, followed by a pineapple aftertaste. It was unexpectedly delicious in the best way possible!

You can’t enjoy cocktails this good without pupus, so I highly recommend the Crispy Kataifi Roll with lobster. I’m already looking forward to going back.