Moku Mania


For town-based fans of Monkeypod Kitchen at Ko Olina, there is, as food writer Jaimie Kim reported in our Oct. 21 issue, good news: Peter Merriman’s latest creation, Moku Kitchen, recently opened at SALT at Our Kakaako.

Aside from the similar menu mindset of upcountry flavors with a downtown vibe, the establishment has at its helm beverage director Jason Vendrell, who oversees libations for both restaurants. (You can revisit Jaimie’s article at for more details on the food.)

“The big thing I’m focusing on is keeping it fun and stocked with good-quality products,” Vendrell says.

Patrons will find no bottled beers on the menu. Rather, Moku boasts an impressive array of beers on tap (36, to be precise).

“Part of the idea is that we want to waste as little as possible,” says Vendrell.

This setup also allows the restaurant to have on hand a diverse selection. Keep in mind that you’ll find no mass-produced flavors in the lineup — it’s local and craft beers only.

Adding a little spark to the menu are the names and descriptions Vendrell and bar manager Mo Sanford come up with. The wine menu is peppered with witty commentary about each selection. And as far as cocktails, there is, for instance, the Pink Cashmere, one of Vendrell’s handcrafted creations.

“I like naming my drinks after Prince songs,” he adds. “And to me, this represents the type of drink we want to do.”

Indeed, the beverage is light and crisp with a tang that revs up your tastebuds — perfect, says Vendrell, for Hawaii’s warm and humid weather.

For something different, try the Slowpoke Rodriguez (pictured) — you know, the lethargic cousin to Speedy Gonzales — created by Sanford. Featuring Maestro Dobel tequila, Xicaru Mezcal, pineapple, lemon and agave, the Slowpoke Rodriguez also adds an extra ingredient to the concoction (yes, that is a Powerpuff Girls reference) — avocado!

“It’s always good to balance sweetness and acidity,” says Vendrell, who got his start in the alcohol world as a sommelier. In addition to the equilibrium of flavors, the avocado creates a fabulously smooth texture.

No matter your poison, there is one thing that Moku aims to do.

“We want people to feel welcome, whether they’re drinking Bikini Blonde or wanting us to create something for them,” Vendrell explains. “No matter how delicious your drinks are, they have to be delivered with grace and hospitality.”

Happy Hour is from 3 to 5:30 p.m. daily. To keep up with Moku Kitchen, visit or follow them on Insta-gram (@MokuKitchen).