Archive for the ‘Bars & Clubs’ Category

Toasting Tullamore D.E.W. with Tim Herlihy at O'Toole's

By
February 21st, 2016



JASON GENEGABUS / JASON@STARADVERTISER.COMTim Herlihy, center holding Tullamore D.E.W. bottle, and his new friends at O'Toole's Irish Pub last week.

JASON GENEGABUS / JASON@STARADVERTISER.COM

Tim Herlihy, center holding Tullamore D.E.W. bottle, and his new friends at O'Toole's Irish Pub last week.

Tim Herlihy’s world changed dramatically in 2011 when he arrived in the United States as the official U.S. brand ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey.

Born and raised in Ireland, his original life’s plan was to become heir to his family’s successful egg farm.

“To be perfectly honest, it was a little awkward,” he said. “I’m the eldest son and the whole plan was for me and my dad to build an egg empire together.

“Just the idea of where I’m from and doing this, it’s just so unusual.”

In just five years, Herlihy has visited 31 states to share a dram of Tullamore D.E.W. with new friends. He’ll be able to check all the others off his list by next month when he completes a 50-states-in-30-days tour in search of what he called “the best Irish pubs and the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.”

After kicking off the tour in Los Angeles on Wednesday, he made his first trip to Hawaii for a four-hour layover — in the dark — before boarding another plane at Honolulu International Airport. The official Honolulu stop was at O’Toole’s Irish Pub, where a small group of industry professionals and whiskey aficionados gathered to taste three different Tullamore expressions. A second, unofficial stop was across the street at Murphy’s Bar & Grill.

The two bars impressed Herlihy with their authenticity, he said.

“This is a gem,” he said of O’Toole’s. “And Murphy’s, too. I still haven’t quite realized I’m in Hawaii yet.”

JASON GENEGABUS / JASON@STARADVERTISER.COMThe lineup at O'Toole's last week.

JASON GENEGABUS / JASON@STARADVERTISER.COM

The lineup at O'Toole's last week.

The Triple Distilled D.E.W. (the initials belong to former owner Daniel E. Williams) was a good introduction to the brand with its combination of Irish grain, malt and pot still whiskey, Herlihy told the crowd at O'Toole's. A second, 12-year expression illustrated how the whiskey’s flavor changes as the distillate spends more time aging in wood barrels.

Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix is a limited edition release, named after the type of bird featured in the town of Tullamore’s coat of arms. At 110-proof, it’s got more punch than the Triple Distilled, and finishing the pot still whiskey in used olorosso sherry casks adds an element of sweetness to the finish. It was easily my favorite of the three, with more complexity than the Triple Distilled and the type of kick I would expect from a “high strength” whiskey, as the bottle's label describes it.

Herlihy headed for Las Vegas following his brief visit to Honolulu, continuing up the west coast to cities like Seattle and Anchorage before heading back south through Idaho, Utah and New Mexico. At last check of his Twitter account on Sunday, he was toasting with customers at Rula Bula, an Irish pub in Tempe, Ariz.

The whirlwind trip comes to an end March 17 in New York City.
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Jason Genegabus has covered the local entertainment, nightlife, music and bar scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com.

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Bar Leather Apron opens downtown

By
January 6th, 2016



PHOTOS BY KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COMBar Leather Apron owner Justin Park presents a Clover Club cocktail accompanied by candied bitter orange peel. Cocktails at Bar Leather Apron will be served with a complimentary appetizer.

PHOTOS BY KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

Bar Leather Apron owner Justin Park presents a Clover Club cocktail accompanied by candied bitter orange peel. Cocktails at Bar Leather Apron will be served with a complimentary appetizer.

It only took a few days for guests to steamroll this week’s soft opening of Bar Leather Apron at Topa Financial Center.

Owners Justin Park and Tom Park (no relation) put out a private invite on New Year’s Day via social media, inviting friends and family to make reservations at the new space that used to be Mezz 127. By Monday, the first day of the soft opening phase, Tom Park had to put out another message letting people know reservations were nearly full.

The overwhelming response only underscores how eagerly anticipated the new bar is among mixology fans.

“It’s the home stretch to the starting line,” said Justin Park. “Different people are going to see us for different things.”

Park, 34, was previously the bar manager at Manifest in Chinatown and has more than a decade of experience in the bar industry. He raised his profile tremendously after winning the title of World’s Best Mai Tai in 2012, and is widely considered the best bartender in the United States for 2014 after winning the United States Bartenders Guild’s Shake It Up competition and finishing fourth overall in the World Cocktail Championship.

0106 BLA 002

Tom Park essentially grew up at Topa, where his mother still runs a flower shop in the building after more than 25 years. He also owns luxury shoe retailer Leather Soul, which had a storefront in the same building before moving nearby to Merchant Street. After signing their lease over the summer, the two have enlisted the help of friends to get a lot of the remodeling work done themselves to turn the space into what they want for their intimate, service-oriented business model.

“We’ve both been very hands-on with the build out,” said Tom Park. “With my shoe store, I conceptualized with the architect, and then it was executed by the architect and the contractors. With this, we were involved in the process the whole way.”

Walk into the 1,054 square-foot space and you’ll find a beautiful 16-foot, J-shaped bartop fashioned from a slab of monkeypod by local woodworker Dae Son. It’s a worthy stage for Justin Park to showcase his skills, yet cozy enough for customers to get the one-on-one interaction expected from such a refined establishment. Customized glassware from Japan lines the shelves, with bottles of whiskey and other spirits on the bar that you’d have an extremely difficult time sourcing on your own.

Bar Leather Apron is also leading the way when it comes to ice in a local bar, with Justin Park promising that all his cocktails will be served with hand-carved ice. A preview visit to the bar last week turned up oversized blocks and spheres created to fill different shaped glasses, plus an expensive commercial freezer installed smack dab in the middle of the bar itself.

Justin Park explained the placement was out of necessity, so bartenders will always have ice within reach, but also as a marketing tool for customers used to watching bartenders pull “fancy” ice out of portable coolers that look like something you’d take to a picnic at the beach.

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“I want there to be new flavors people have never tried and pairings they’ve never tried, and make the classics really good, but I want the emphasis to be on the whole place and not just the drink program,” he said. “You could go to a really good bar and have a (terrible) drink. You probably wouldn’t go back there. Or you might go to a (terrible) bar, but this guy knew what ... he was doing and made great drinks. I want it to be like, ‘Man, we went to this really good bar, and we had a really good drink, and we’re going to go back to this really good bar.’

“My cocktail program is a bar program. My bar program is everything that goes on in the room.”

While the drink menu continues to undergo fine-tuning during the soft opening phase, Justin Park said he expects to offer “six to eight signature drinks and about 15 to 20 classic cocktails” once Bar Leather Apron opens to the general public on Monday. A variety of classic highball cocktails will also be served along with beer, wine and “some other fun stuff.”

To help introduce the new bar’s drink menu, he shared two cocktails that are confirmed to be on the menu. Pick up a copy of today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser to check out the Bar Leather Apron Old Fashioned, a twist on the classic cocktail made with Knob Creek whiskey from a barrel hand-selected for Bar Leather Apron.

Justin Park prepares a Bar Leather Apron Old Fashioned.

Justin Park prepares a Bar Leather Apron Old Fashioned.

While the Old Fashioned is considered a more masculine drink — that hasn’t stopped more women from ordering them in recent years as the popularity of whiskey has grown, Justin Park added — the Clover Club falls on the other end of the spectrum. With gin as its base alcohol and a special raspberry syrup made using a sous vide machine, the drink is both delicate in appearance and full of flavor. See the recipe below.

Bar Leather Apron is located at the Topa Financial Center, 745 Fort Street, Suite 127-A, and will be open from 3 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays starting next week. Call (808) 524-0808 or visit www.barleatherapron.com.

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Jason Genegabus has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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CLOVER CLUB

By Justin Park, Bar Leather Apron

Ingredients:

» 2 ounces gin

» 1/4-ounce Lillet Blanc

»1/2-ounce sous vide raspberry syrup

» 1/2-ounce lemon juice

» 1 egg white

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Shake and strain into another mixing glass. Shake with no ice added and strain again into chilled cocktail glass.

Note: Park creates his sous vide raspberry syrup using sugar, water and raspberries in a sous vide machine. Substitute with raspberry-infused simple syrup.

RELATED POST:

Top U.S. bartender is raring to mix it up (Subscription Required)

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'Soul' searching for rare Hawaii tunes

By
December 16th, 2015



PHOTOS BY JASON GENEGABUS / JASON@STARADVERTISER.COM “Awesome Tapes From Africa” blogger Brian Shimkovitz made a guest appearance at Bevy earlier this month to share his cassette mixing skills.

PHOTOS BY JASON GENEGABUS / JASON@STARADVERTISER.COM

“Awesome Tapes From Africa” blogger Brian Shimkovitz made a guest appearance at Bevy earlier this month to share his cassette mixing skills.

Finding a Honolulu-based DJ who spins nothing but vinyl records is a rarity these days.

Just 10 years ago, it was common to find the island’s top talent continuing to haul crates upon crates of vinyl to gigs. CD-playing “turntables” called CDJs were growing in popularity, but some DJs found the technology didn’t afford them the same level of creativity as vinyl when manipulating music on the fly. Serato Scratch Live, which debuted in 2004 and was the professional standard among DJs until it was replaced by Serato DJ in 2013, had yet to achieve critical mass and create the mass exodus into to the digital realm we now live in.

So the news that Aloha Got Soul’s Roger Bong would play an all-cassette set alongside Los Angeles-based ethnomusicologist Brian Shimkovitz, who started the blog “Awesome Tapes From Africa” in 2006, made this reporter do a double-take.

SOUL TIME IN HAWAII

Presented by Aloha Got Soul

» Where: Bevy, 661 Auahi St.

» When: 9 p.m. Dec. 26

» Cost: Free

» Info: www.alohagotsoul.com

Mixing with cassettes? In 2015?

“Mediums like vinyl or cassette tape, there’s a lot of stuff you can’t find anywhere else,” Bong, 28, said during a break in the action at Bevy on Dec. 3. “Music has gone through phases. Records were the thing. That went out. Tapes came in and went out. Then CDs came in. Now it’s digital downloads.

“I think for what we’re doing, it’s just a process of rediscovery for us. It’s like a game for me. It’s a passion.”

Bong has built a name for himself digging through the music of generations past and sharing the best stuff he finds with like-minded fans once a month at Bevy in Kakaako. Along with the monthly Soul Time listening party in Honolulu that started in 2014 and followed two well-received mixtapes in 2012 and 2013, he now has partners who live in Chicago and London who host Soul Time events in each of those cities as well.

“We’re really not trying to do anything different. We’re just doing what we enjoy,” he said. “I think it’s because throughout the world there’s a lot of like-minded people doing the same thing. In Europe and Japan there’s a much bigger audience.

“If we were in any other city in the world right now and we were doing this with Awesome Tapes from Africa, we’d command a much bigger audience. The music scene here is pretty small compared to other places, so the level of interest for something like this is even smaller than what it might be somewhere else.”

Aloha Got Soul founder Roger Bong with some of the cassettes he brought to mix with at Bevy on Dec. 3.

Aloha Got Soul founder Roger Bong with some of the cassettes he brought to mix with at Bevy on Dec. 3.

Besides the monthly party at Bevy, Aloha Got Soul uses Soundcloud to get its sound out to the masses. Bong has also assumed the duties of a record label executive after re-releasing Nohelani Cypriano’s self-titled 1979 album on vinyl in August, which followed the release of a 7-inch vinyl single of 1960s and ‘70s local recording artist Mike Lundy’s “The Rhythm Of Life” and “Tropic Lightning.” (A follow-up pressing of the complete “The Rhythm of Life” LP released in September sold out as well.)

In February, Bong will partner with Strut Records to release an “Aloha Got Soul” compilation that features “rare Hawaiian grooves” by Lundy, Cypriano, Aura, Nova, Hal Bradbury and ‘Aina that were originally released between 1979 and 1985. It’s just the first of multiple releases planned for 2016.

“At the end of next year, I’m planning to release a compilation by a new-age artist who made electronic music here in the 1980s,” he said. “It’s in the same vein of what we’ve been doing so far.”

Bong added that while looking to the past to uncover forgotten music has worked well to establish the Aloha Got Soul brand, there’s only so much old music from Hawaii available to rediscover.

“Hawaii is a musically rich place,” he said. “What we try to do, I’d say we’re 65 to 70 percent of the way through. It can only grow so much.

“I’m trying to grow and evolve this naturally. It’s not always going to be us looking for old-school stuff. We’re going to need to bring the old and new together.”

Starting this month, Soul Time in Hawaii moves to the last Saturday of every month at Bevy. Bong will be joined by DJs Oliver Sequin and Hideki Yamamoto for another evening of soul, funk, disco, jazz, boogie and Hawaiian music. Visit www.alohagotsoul.com for more info and audio from previous parties.

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Jason Genegabus has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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SKY Waikiki sets opening lineup

By
August 6th, 2015



Months of waiting will come to an end in just a few weeks as SKY Waikiki makes its highly anticipated debut above Kalakaua Avenue.

The rooftop bistro, lounge and nightclub was originally expected to open in 2013, but multiple delays pushed its grand opening back nearly two years.

ASSOCIATED PRESSDJ Brody Jenner, right, with Devin Lucien during the E! "Sex with Brody" Launch Party in Miami on July 18. He'll be in Honolulu later this month at SKY Waikiki's grand opening parties on Aug. 28 and 29.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brody Jenner, right, with DJ Devin Lucien during the E! "Sex with Brody" Launch Party in Miami on July 18. He'll be in Honolulu later this month at SKY Waikiki's grand opening parties on Aug. 28 and 29.

Boasting 7,000 square-feet of space on the 19th floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza, SKY Waikiki is described as a "fully interactive space" with a wrap-around, cantilevered lanai and 30-foot video wall to go with three full bars, custom lighting and a Martin Audio sound system. An outdoor SKY Deck will feature a custom fire pit to go with a panoramic view of Waikiki.

SKY Waikiki will be able to accommodate 400 guests when it opens later this month. The total amount of money spent to create the space was not disclosed.

"There has never been anything like this in Waikiki," managing partner Jovan Andow said in a press release. "It's upscale, yet an affordable night out. ... If the view doesn't take your breath away, nothing will!"

SKY Waikiki's official grand opening weekend kicks off Aug. 28 with an invite-only event that will feature a traditional Hawaiian blessing and the unveiling of all-new cocktails by Jennifer Ackrill and a "unique menu of social cuisine" by executive chef Lance Kosaka.

Guests will get to try SKY Waikiki's signature drink, the 'Iolani Spritz, made with hibiscus-infused organic cucumber vodka with lime juice and a splash of soda. Kosaka will introduce a full lineup of gourmet pizzas to go with his take on popcorn shrimp and "The Perfect Cheeseburger."

Following the VIP party on Aug. 28, SKY Waikiki will open to the general public on Aug. 29 with reality television star Brody Jenner as the featured guest host. Hawaii's own The Green will headline the night on Aug. 30.

SKY Waikiki is located at 2270 Kalakaua Avenue and will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays starting in September. Visit www.skywaikiki.com or follow the club on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Scarlet Honolulu opens in Chinatown

By
July 24th, 2015



PHOTOS BY KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERScarlet Honolulu is now open in the space formerly occupied by The Fix in Chinatown.

PHOTOS BY KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

Scarlet Honolulu is now open in the space formerly occupied by The Fix in Chinatown.

Oahu’s LGBT community has a new Chinatown destination, thanks to the recent opening of Scarlet Honolulu in the space formerly known as The Fix and SoHo Mixed Media Bar.

The new gay club is the result of a partnership between local television personality Lanai Tabura and Los Angeles fashion designer and photographer Traver Rains. Rains introduced Tabura to Scarlet Chicago’s Rob Savvy and Robbie Baldwin earlier this year, and within just a few months Scarlet Honolulu was born.

“We did this in six weeks,” Tabura said during the club’s opening night on Friday. “What I didn’t know was (Rob and Robbie) were already coming to Hawaii on a regular basis and they always noticed there was no place for them to go. There were bars, but no clubs.”

Scarlet Honolulu co-owners Lanai Tabura, left, and Traver Rains, right, with special guest Richie Rich.

Scarlet Honolulu co-owners Lanai Tabura, left, and Traver Rains, right, with special guest Richie Rich.

While Tabura brought his experience as an entrepreneur and local connections to the table, the creative direction for Scarlet Honolulu came entirely from his partners. The new club is nothing like it’s Chicago-based namesake, which has more of a classic speakeasy vibe.

Here in Chinatown, Scarlet is loosely based on a dollhouse theme, with a spacious dancefloor flanked by a handful of VIP areas. The artwork on the walls features a series of dirty dolls in action; Lanai said his partners set up a photoshoot in Chicago to create the images, which were shot in an actual dollhouse and blown up to create larger-than-life wall treatments in the club.

(Nearly everything on the walls at Scarlet Honolulu is NSFW, so you’ll have to check it out in person to see what the fuss is about.)

“I’m most proud because it’s so different and bizarre to me,” said Tabura. “Different, because you don’t see anything like this. I think everyone is going to want to check it out.”

PUL SCARLET 34

Along with Scarlet, Tabura and his partners plan to open two other businesses in what used to be part of the old nightclub space as well as an adjoining restaurant space. The Tiki at Scarlet Honolulu is expected to open in “about two months” with a classic tiki bar theme, followed by a new restaurant concept in “about three months.”

Tabura declined to provide any more details, other than to confirm that his brother (and “The Great Food Truck Race” co-star), chef Adam Tabura, would be part of the team working on the restaurant.

“It’s a three-step deal,” he said. “We have some good stuff coming.”

Until then, Scarlet will carry the torch from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays with a variety of parties, including Way Back Wednesday, Frat Night Thursday, Fireball Friday and The Banger Dance Party with DJ Luna on Saturdays. The club will host a Pau Hana Industry Party on Sundays.

To keep up with the latest info, follow Scarlet Honolulu on Instagram and Facebook.

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Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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SKY Waikiki hosts hiring party

By
June 18th, 2015



Working in the bar and nightclub industry can be a very lucrative proposition. Bartenders, cocktail waitresses and even those scantily clad bottle hostesses can make hundreds — sometimes thousands — of dollars a night at Honolulu’s more popular venues.

COURTESY SKY WAIKIKI  An artist rendering of SKY Waikiki depicts an open-air experience with breathtaking views of Waikiki and Diamond Head.

COURTESY SKY WAIKIKI

An artist rendering of SKY Waikiki depicts an open-air experience with breathtaking views of Waikiki and Diamond Head.

So it’s a little odd to see one of Honolulu’s most highly anticipated club openings of 2015 resort to giving away “a chance to win $1,000 in cash and prizes” in an effort to recruit new employees. Maybe it’s the only way to truly capture the attention of the Millenial generation?

No matter your thoughts on the marketing gimmick, expect a pretty big crowd at the Waikiki Shopping Plaza on Thursday and Friday as SKY Waikiki holds job interviews from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. A variety of positions are up for grabs, from cocktail servers and bartenders to VIP hosts, security staff and kitchen help.

No sign-ups are necessary, but job-seekers are asked to bring a current resume and headshot (which will also get you entered to win the cash and prizes up for grabs).

“SKY Waikiki is poised to be Hawaii’s ultimate rooftop experience,” said managing partner Jovan Andow in a release sent via email. “The idea behind this event is to not only hire new team members but to also give people a taste of what to expect prior to our grand opening later this summer.”

Can't make it down this week? SKY Waikiki is also accepting applications online.

Sky Waikiki has been in the works for years and was originally expected to open in 2013. That was pushed back to spring, then summer, of last year before being delayed again until 2015. According to the rooftop bistro, lounge and nightclub’s Facebook page, the latest grand opening date is now set for Aug. 29.

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Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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The District goes after older crowd

By
April 17th, 2015



PHOTOS BY JOAH BULEY / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER The District is now open on Kapiolani Boulevard, with special events planned this weekend and a soft opening scheduled for next week.

PHOTOS BY JOAH BULEY / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

The District is now open on Kapiolani Boulevard, with special events planned this weekend and a soft opening scheduled for next week.

A familiar nightspot is back on the scene this weekend as The District makes its debut in the Kapiolani Boulevard space previously known as Bar Seven and Venus Nightclub.

Fans of current Honolulu hotspots M Nightclub at Waterfront Plaza and Addiction Nightclub at the Modern Honolulu will be happy to discover another late night weekend destination, starting tonight with a special appearance by Los Angeles/Las Vegas-based production duo Club Killers and followed by the official Common Kings album release afterparty on Saturday (once the band is done headlining upstairs at The Republik).

Following successful stints at Ward Centre with Vice Nightclub and Tsunami’s on South King Street, the ownership group also behind nearby Ginza Nightclub hopes the undisclosed amount of money they spent upgrading the interior, lighting and sound system will breathe new life into the space and introduce it to a new generation of clubgoers.

“We just kind of cleaned it up,” said The District co-owner Bryan Yoshida. “We took everything back to white and brighter colors (to make it) a cool, chill place. This could be a lounge or a club.

“We want to have everyone enjoy and have fun, you know?”

Yoshida, along with partners Dave Ung, Sean Saiki and Alex Kamm, didn’t provide much more information about their plans for the club during a sneak preview event Thursday, referring most questions to a publicist. According to a release issued earlier this week, The District will “up the ante” and showcase “the freshest sounds from a rotating roster of premium residents and visiting DJs” while also taking bottle service “to new heights” with four different “levels” available to customers.

The biggest change, however, is a new age-based admission policy. Gone are the 18-and-over nights, and those 21 and 22 years old will have to wait a bit longer before they can get a glimpse of the new club. The District will be open only to those 23-and-over when the doors officially open on April 24.

If this weekend’s parties are considered preview events, next weekend can be considered the club’s soft opening. According to Kamm, The District will celebrate its official grand opening over the long Memorial Day weekend in May.

Here are a few more pictures from Thursday:

The front entrance is essentially unchanged, except for the new signage above the hostess stand.

The front entrance is essentially unchanged, except for new signage above the hostess stand.

Those old enough to remember a nightclub called Blue Tropix will be familiar with the drama that club caused by housing pet monkeys in a glass-walled cage behind the bar. The District doesn't have that problem, since it was local go-go dancer Lauren Lala behind the glass just beyond the club's front entrance.

Those old enough to remember a nightclub called Blue Tropix will be familiar with the drama that club caused by housing pet monkeys in a glass-walled cage behind the bar. The District doesn't have that problem, since it was local go-go dancer Lauren Lala behind the glass just beyond the club's front entrance.

District 10

Once inside, be sure to check out the bar treatments designed for The District by local creative Chris Kono.

Once inside, be sure to check out the bar treatments designed for The District by local creative Chris Kono.

One wall is lined with audio speakers.

One wall is lined with audio speakers.

Another pays tribute to the Beastie Boys.

Another pays tribute to the Beastie Boys.

District 76

District 97

Sean Saiki, Chris Kono, Bryan Yoshida, Dave Ung and Alex Kamm pose for a photo during Thursday's preview.

Sean Saiki, Chris Kono, Bryan Yoshida, Dave Ung and Alex Kamm pose for a photo during Thursday's preview.

You can't offer bottle service in a nightclub without beautiful servers to pour guests drinks — and The District is no exception.

You can't offer bottle service in a nightclub without beautiful servers to pour guests drinks — and The District is no exception.

District 127

District 129

District 131

The District is located at 1349 Kapiolani Boulevard and will be open from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Call (808) 949-1349 or visit www.thedistrictnightclub.com and follow The District on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates.

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Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Vertical Junkies mark 20 years

By
December 19th, 2014



A typical Vertical Junkies party at the old O Lounge on Kapiolani Boulevard, circa, 2005.

PHOTOS COURTESY RUSS INOUYE

A typical Vertical Junkies party at the old O Lounge on Kapiolani Boulevard, circa 2005.

Once a party promoter, always a party promoter. Russ Inouye is better known these days as producer of the annual Hawaii Ocean Expo and for his work in reintroducing He’eia Pier General Store & Deli to a new generation of fans, but there was a time when getting friends (and friends of friends) together for a club rager was his main objective.

VERTICAL JUNKIES 20/20 REUNION

With special guest PeniDean

» Where: Tsukiji, Ala Moana Center
» When: 10 p.m. Saturday
» Cost: $10 before 11:30 p.m.
» Info: facebook.com

Originally launched in 1994 as a clothing company, Vertical Junkies morphed into one of the top nightclub party crews about 10 years ago before crossing over into the bar business in 2009 with the opening of the former V-Lounge on Kona Street. Along with business partners Mike Nagasawa, Kanoe Sandefur and Blaine Tomita, Inouye welcomed thousands of young adults into Honolulu’s nightclub scene with 18-and-over parties at venues all over town.

Mention the phrase “Five Dolla Pitchas and Rubba Slippas” to these folks and they’ll immediately make the connection. From Hot Lava Cafe, Compadres and Ocean Club to the O Lounge, Hard Rock Cafe and Shack Waikiki, the Vertical Junkies kept their casual, laid-back-yet-still-raging party vibe going no matter where the ride took them.

PHOTOS COURTESY RUSS INOUYERuss Inouye, second from right, with his Vertical Junkies partners, from left, Kanoe Sandefur, Mike Nagasawa and Blaine Tomita.

Russ Inouye, second from right, with his Vertical Junkies partners, from left, Kanoe Sandefur, Mike Nagasawa and Blaine Tomita.

The VJ boys will take a walk down memory lane on Saturday when Inouye, Nagasawa and Tomita host the Vertical Junkies 20/20 Reunion at Tsukiji Ala Moana with support from Tantriq Entertainment, Blaise Sato, Flash Hansen, Artist Groove Network, Xclusive Vapor, 808Tattoo and Know1. And if social media buzz is any indication, this holiday party will be one to remember.

“Judging by the people who have said they’re coming, it’s going to be a fun night, like the way it used to be,” Inouye said by phone on Thursday. “Getting a such a solid response to this party is making me feel like we could do it again. … That surf, party, cruise vibe I’ve always enjoyed.”

The Vertical Junkies are well known for being able to poke fun and laugh at themselves.

The Vertical Junkies are well known for being able to poke fun and laugh at themselves.

Another longtime promoter buddy helped get Inouye in the door at Tsukiji after spotting him up to his old tricks on the North Shore. Rick Rock happened to cross paths with Inouye at Haleiwa Joe’s, where Inouye stepped in to host a one-off party after the restaurant’s previous promoter severed ties.

“Rick saw me that night and later asked if I wanted to do a party in town and collaborate with him,” Inouye said. “It’s the holiday season and everybody is back in town. It’s the perfect time for something like this.”

Partying with Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls fame.

Partying with Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls fame.

Those looking for EDM on Saturday shouldn’t bother checking out Tsukiji — Inouye made it clear the party will be a throwback to the late 1990’s and early ‘00s with a mix of hip-hop, R&B, Top 40 and island contemporary by a roster of DJs who used to play Vertical Junkies parties back then.

“This is going to be a feel-good party,” he said. “Come in your slippers if you want. If you want to come in your $150 T-shirt, who cares? Just come with a good attitude. Come and have fun.”
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Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Mercury to be replaced by Proof

By
November 7th, 2014



If you weren’t able to get to the Mercury Bar before it’s previously announced closure on Halloween, you’re in luck — the bar’s anti-First Friday party will take place as planned, with performances by The Knumbskulls, Junkies Runnin Dry, Beach Boy Golf Pro, Animal Mother and Pressure Down Sounds.

FFF: GHOST TOWN

Presented by Jet Setter Productions

» Where: Mercury Bar, 1154 Fort Street Mall

» When: 9 p.m. Friday

» Cost: $5

» Info: Facebook.com

“We’ll be open for First Friday as Mercury Bar,” new owner Joshua Hancock confirmed on Thursday. “Then we’ll close for a few weeks.”

Hancock and his business partner, Serena Hashimoto, have stepped in as majority owners of the Mercury Bar. Anthony Karl, who bought the bar from original owner Andrew Bugreyev, will continue to have an ownership interest, but it will be the duo who opened Downbeat Diner and Lounge on Hotel Street who run things on Chaplain Lane from here on out.

That also means on Dec. 1, the space will officially become Proof Public House after more than a decade as the Mercury Bar. Think pool, pizza and beer — all the necessary elements for a relaxing place to hang with friends away from crowds elsewhere in Chinatown.

1106 proof

Proof also refers to the strength of the alcohol they’ll serve, the process of change as it relates to pizza dough, and the authenticity of a venue that speaks truth to the Chinatown lifestyle with ownership who both live and work in the neighborhood.

Hancock answered a few questions about Proof, including an explanation as to why the new pub will not offer live music.

STAR-ADVERTISER: What is the concept behind Proof?

JOSHUA HANCOCK: A public house is actually the long name for a pub in Europe. It was used to denote a home that the public could come to and try home-brewed beers. This was during the early era of small beer brewing in Europe.

Proof is going to be kind of a throwback to the original concept of a public house. We’re planning on having pizza as well as cheap beer. Our main plan is to take out the stage and put in a pool table, open the windows up and change some of the aesthetics to make the room more inviting. We want to go from a club feel to a more open-air feel that’s inviting to the public.

Upstairs will be rented out for private parities and we’ll offer karaoke.

SA: Will Proof be another Downbeat Diner?

JH: It’s really going to be more of a pub vibe. Unlike Downbeat Diner and Lounge where the diner is a little more formal with a full menu and the lounge is a bar with a venue space, Proof will be a different option.

We’re just trying to fill a niche. We want to be affordable, accessible, casual, not fancy. A place to drink cheap beer and socialize.

SA: Do you plan to continue offering live music?

JH: We’re not doing live music. Downbeat has absorbed most of the customers who went to Mercury to see bands play.

At Proof, we wanted to offer a place where they could shoot pool. A more causal environment to get out of the hustle and bustle of the clubs and restaurants. And cheap beer, of course.

SA: Which is more fun, playing music or running a business?

JH: Music will always be my first love, for sure. It’s more therapy for me than anything.

For me and Serena, we do this to support what we’re already doing in the music scene. At Downbeat, we provide a place to eat late at night and see shows. With Proof, we asked ourselves, “Where can we go to shoot pool? Where can we go to hang out and have a beer?”

The businesses that have been doing well in Chinatown are the ones with the owners actively in charge … so I’ll be everywhere. We’ll have some management (at Proof), so hopefully I’ll be spending most of my time at Downbeat, which is the bigger operation. But I’ll be back and forth.

SA: Any plans for further expansion? Would you consider opening a bar outside Chinatown?

JH: I loved the Mercury Bar ever since I first went there more than a decade ago. To be able to take over a business that’s established and have so many good memories feels good.

We’ll probably stick with Chinatown. We’re comfortable here and have great relationships with other businesses. And there’s still plenty of potential. I think the neighborhood matches our interests with its history and architecture and blend of personalities who come down here.

———

Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Chang gets a bigger Wang

By
August 12th, 2014



CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / 2012Customers at Wang Chung's Karaoke Bar will soon have much more space to sing, drink and be merry when the bar moves to the lobby of the Stay Hotel in Waikiki later this year.

CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / 2012

Customers at Wang Chung's Karaoke Bar will soon have much more space to sing, drink and be merry when the bar moves to the lobby of the Stay Hotel in Waikiki later this year.

Who wouldn’t want a bigger Wang? For Dan Chang, it’s been five long years of working hard and dreaming big to make his Wang grow.

Spend some time talking story with Chang, owner of Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar in Waikiki, and you’ll find yourself making up your own puns in no time. The giggles keep coming throughout a short YouTube video he created with his employees to announce a new Indiegogo fundraising campaign that accompanied the big announcement made Sunday.

Five years after opening what Chang calls “probably the smallest bar in Waikiki,” he’s found a new space in the lobby of the Stay Hotel — just steps away from the Wang Chung’s current location on Koa Avenue.

“It’s no longer a dream,” he says in the video. “We’re getting a bigger Wang!

“We’ll be able to feature karaoke, 12 draught beers on tap, an open kitchen and just a lot more of the Wang special sauce that you've come to know and love.

“Wang’s has organically grown to become this special place because of you. Your hugs. Your aloha. Your good energy. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support over these past five years. I can’t wait to show you our bigger Wang!”

(See? The Wang jokes don’t stop.)

While Chang has already secured the new space, he launched the Indiegogo campaign to raise $10,000 for remodeling and equipment costs. Those who donate by 9 p.m. Sept. 1 will be eligible to receive special perks depending on the amount they give — $10, for example, will score you a “shot and a Chinese Bear Hug from the Angry Asian Man, Dan,” while $40 will get you a Wang Chung’s tank top that ranges in size from “Extra Little Wang to Godzilla Wang” (i.e. XS-2XL).

Additional perks include VIP Bottle Service ($200), a Private Party @ Little Wang’s ($500) and a Wang Chung’s Personal Trading Card ($1,000).

No official announcement has been made as to the new location’s opening date. To donate funds, visit indiegogo.com.

———

Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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