Wet Campus


As a senior at University of Hawaii, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the campus expand and develop. The new recreation center, for instance, is amazing (66,000 square feet of equipment), and the renovated IT center is the nicest building on campus. But, to me, nothing is better than the bar located on the upper campus area: Manoa Gardens.

First, let’s address the fact that Manoa is a wet campus, and drinking is OK (if you’re of age, obviously). That means Manoa Gardens is the hub of day drinking. Undergraduates, graduates, professors and other university employees will stop in for a beer between classes, after classes have ended or when classes aren’t even scheduled. It is rare to find Manoa Gardens empty, except for when it (unfortunately) closes on the weekends.

You don’t have to be a student to enjoy a cocktail at Manoa Gardens — it essentially is another local bar, but on a school campus. All fans of day drinking would enjoy this bar for its laid-back atmosphere and friendly bartenders.

If you’re looking for a bar with unique drinks, this isn’t the place — an obvious fact, since the target demographic is college students on a budget. But the good news is that you will not break the bank here. The menu is small, filled with draft beers and well drinks that start at $5. Classic cocktails, like a Long Island Iced Tea or Bloody Mary, are $6.

Occasionally, there are events in the courtyard outside of the bar, including live music, games and step-and-repeat photo opportunities. Ba-Le conveniently is located behind the bar, and serves dishes like pho, spring rolls, banh-mi, mozzarella sticks and pad Thai.

If you take a trip out to “the garden,” my recommendation is a Bloody Mary or a Jaeger with Red Bull, because the alcohol content is high. The bartender, who wishes to remain nameless but is there every day (regulars know who I’m referring to), poured at least two-and-a-half shots of vodka into my Bloody Mary. I’m not complaining at all, but this might explain why I often leave Manoa Gardens feeling tipsier than other bars I frequent. baumsammi@gmail.com