Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Bar Crawl - Bar List

I am naturally a shy person; however, I am also a big believer in putting yourself out there, taking risks, and meeting new people.  This is especially important when moving to a new city (which I have done 6 times in the last 8 years).  Consequently, a few weeks ago I joined a homebrewing club.  The group regularly gets together and shares homemade beer and snacks at someone's house or has group outings that are based around beer.  This weekend there was a bar crawl where the plan was to partake in beer specials at a variety of bars in Chinatown.  There were maybe 50 people who showed up, all wearing various Christmas costumes. My friends and I did not get the memo and showed up dressed normally.  Oh well, it was still fun.

We started at Don Ho's at Aloha Tower.  From there, we went to Bar 35 where I got to sample some more beer on the massive 196-beer list.  After that, we went to Murphy's Irish bar.  Finally, we ended the night back at Aloha Tower and the Gordon Biersch brewery.  Overall, it was a fun night.  Aloha Tower is right on the water, so when we were at Don Ho's and Gordon Biersch, we sat outside on the deck, drank beer, and watched the boat parade.  What's a boat parade?  Exactly what it sounds like.  There were more than a dozen sailboats and yachts sailing around the harbor decked out with Christmas lights.

Picture from Don Ho's deck
Since I have never been to some of these places, here is my review.  You'll have to forgive me, but my memory of the bars gets a little hazier as the evening wore on.  Without further ado:

Don Ho's:  This bar and grill opened in 1998 and is located right on the water at Aloha Tower.  There is both an outdoor and indoor bar serving typical bar food.  I ordered the kalua pork sliders, which were decent, but nothing to write home about.  The bar prides itself on its entertainment calendar.  They bring in singers and performers as well as host karaoke weekly.  Don Ho was apparently a big musician here and until his death in 2007, he spent five nights a week, center stage behind his Hammond Organ, singing some of his favorite songs and "talking story" with his audience.  When we were there, there was a chorus/choir of elementary school-age children singing Christmas carols.

Bar 35:  I have previously described this bar as a lounge with an outdoor patio and indoor couches.  Every Wednesday from 6-8pm there is a House of Brews beer tasting event with delicious pizza.  On Saturday, everyone hung around outside and drank beer on what was a gorgeous 76-degree night in Honolulu.  It is a really chill environment.  I think some nights they have live music, but when we showed up at 8:30pm on Saturday night, it was dead inside.  The beers can be expensive ($9), but they have happy hour Saturday night where you can find 130 beers that cost only $4.  They also have $3 vodka martinis.  One other fun fact: if you watched Hawaii Five-0 on Monday night (12/13), Bar 35 was actually a scene in the show.  If you are interested, you can watch it online at

Murphy's:  I had been here once before for happy hour and was not overly impressed.  When I went on Saturday night, though, I thought it was a great bar.  The bartenders were friendly and talkative, despite the fact that it was busy.  The service was phenomenal, despite it being crowded.  The beer prices were nothing special, but the environment was worth it.  If you like Irish pubs, you have basically two options.  They are actually across the street from each other: O'Tool's and Murphy's.  O'Tool's allows people to smoke inside.  Murphy's does not.  Murphy's is also much more well-lit inside and has less of a "dive bar" atmosphere.  The only downside to Murphy's is that the bartenders did not know how to properly pour a Guinness.  Yes, at an Irish pub they didn't know to pour halfway, let sit, finish pour.  What can I say, it's Hawaii.

Inside Murphy's
Gordon Biersch: This brewery originated in Palo Alto, CA, but currently operates 29 restaurants in the U.S., including Honolulu. Additionally, two Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants operate in Taiwan.  The idea behind the brewery is to serve traditional German beer.  They admit they don't do fruit-infused wheat beers or 100 varieties from around the world.  The brewery here is also at Aloha Tower and has both indoor and outdoor seating.  It is right next to Don Ho's, but I would recommend Gordon Biersch.  The service was a little better, it is much bigger so it is less crowded, and the prices are slightly better.  The menu options at Gordon Biersch is also much better.

Inside Gordon Biersch

Overall, the Saturday bar crawl was a lot of fun.  The best part was that you can walk between all of the bars without a problem at all.  All of Chinatown is also covered with Christmas lights this time of year and while it was weird to see Christmas lights in shorts, it was really pretty to see the city all lit up.  If you're in the mood for a Chinatown adventure, I recommend doing this lineup of bars and sampling the cuisine as well as the brews. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, these are really awesome shots dear and Glad that you shared these here. Also had amazing Christmas celebrations this year. First I celebrated with family and then I went out with friend to celebrate at Los Angeles event venues. It was truly a great fun.