Where to Drink in Hawaii Right Now

Looking for the best places to drink in Hawaii? We've found spots serving cocktails, wine, and beer. One spot even overlooks a volcano!

Picture this: you’re sitting on the beach in Hawaii in your comfy lounge chair. You’ve got Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” in hand, your SPF 50 sunblock applied, and your sharpest Oakleys on. What’s missing from this picture? Why, a cold beverage, of course. You need to get a drink in Hawaii, stat!

Only problem is, where do you even start? The hotel bar is always a safe (and, let’s face it, usually lazy) option, but if you’re reading this post, you probably want something that’s a cut above a typical piña colada.

Not that I have anything against piña coladas… oh wait, I do. I’m allergic to pineapple, so that’s never happening. I’m pretty sad about that one. But I digress.

If you want to find a drink in Hawaii that will rock your world, read on to discover some of our favorites.

Kona Brewing Company

74-5612 Pawai Place, Kailua Kona, HI
Website
Hours: Pub open daily from 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM; Growler Shack opens daily at 11:30 AM. Tours of the brewery occur at 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM each day.

Kona Brewing Company

One Kona beer, two Kona beer, three Kona beer, floor

Though Sir Campsalot and I were staying in the town of Volcano (no, that’s not a typo) to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we still wanted to visited Kona despite being on the opposite side of the Big Island. It was a bit ambitious, considering that we only had 2.5 days on the island, but when has that ever stopped us before?

We had one beverage-related destination in mind for Kona: the Kona Brewing Company. Kona Brewing Company introduced their beers to Hawaii in 1995; their flagship brewhouse produces over 12,000 barrels of beer annually.

After the scenic two hour drive from Volcano to Kona, we were ravenously hungry for some grub and a brewski or two. Or three. Oh hell, it was four. (But who’s counting? Nobody looking at that photo, good sir.)

Based on Sir Campsalot’s recommendation, I tried the Longboard Island Lager and the Castaway IPA, which were both delicious. Lucky for me, they’re part of the four beers that are distributed throughout all 50 U.S. states! We also sampled their Lavaman Red Ale, which had notes of caramel, and their Pipeline Porter, which is brewed with Hawaiian Kona coffee.

Kona Brewing Company’s food menu offers suggested beer and food pairings; this helped us to zero in on pizza to go with the IPA and red ale. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available, but be prepared for a wait during peak hours!

Merriman’s

Locations vary (We went to the one at 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Street #G-149, Koloa, Kauai)
Website
 Hours vary (The Koloa location is open daily from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM)

Merriman's Mai Tai

Look, Ma, no pineapple!

I was resigned to the fact that I’d just never be able to be able to have a mai tai. I was convinced that mai tais had my arch nemesis — the golden pineapple — in them, and alas, I’d never be able to taste this drink in Hawaii.

However, I was elated to find that Merriman’s Mai Tai lacked the fruit as an ingredient! The version at their Koloa, Kauai location contained Lahaina rum, orgeat, and honey-lilikoi foam. It hit all the right notes without being too cloyingly sweet. (Edit: Hark! A reader notified me that the original recipe for a mai tai DOESN’T have pineapple in it. Mind. Blown.)

Merriman’s locations serve a variety of other creative cocktails, including “You Put the Lime in the Coconut” (Uncle Val’s Gin, Lime-Lemongrass, Cream of Coconut) and the pricey “Porthole” (Bib & Trucker Bourbon, Lemonade, Velvet Falernum, Pink Peppercorn, Lavender, and Kula Strawberry).

The Koloa location, which we visited, brings to mind an Old Hawaii Plantation. There’s a more casual downstairs area, plus a premium bar upstairs with gorgeous views. Walking in and sad that you have to wait to be seated? The Koloa location is located near several shops, which softens the blow.

Pro Tip → The Koloa location had happy hour from 5:30-6:30 PM, so the mai tai cost only $8 instead of the regular price. Other locations have happy hours as well.

Volcano House

1 Crater Rim Drive, Hawaii National Park, HI
Website
Uncle George’s Lounge is open daily, 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Volcano House Pinot Grigio

Pinot grigio with a side of volcano, no big deal. (View from Uncle George’s Lounge.)

Remember what I said about hotel bars being a lazy option? This joint is an exception to the rule. If you want to get a drink in Hawaii and have an undeniably stunning view to go along with it, then get yourself over to Volcano House pronto.

For our last drink on the Big Island of Hawaii, we stopped at the Volcano House. This is the place to be if you want to gaze at a freakin’ volcano while you imbibe. We headed into the more casual Uncle George’s Lounge (for fine dining, visit The Rim instead) and were treated to hypnotic views of the Kilauea caldera and Halemaumau Crater.

Uncle George’s Lounge serves lighter fare, plus wine, beer, and cocktails. If you need to tear your eyes away from the smoky volcano (but why would you do that?), there’s a large television in the lounge, plus live music on Saturdays and Sundays.

Kauai Beer Company

4265 Rice Street, Lihue, Kauai
Website
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Kauai Brewing Company

I just can’t choose…

The Kauai Beer Company felt like a decidedly local, happening spot on the night we went. Granted, it was one of their “Truck Stop Thursdays,” where seating is a free-for-all and you can order food from a different food truck each week.

Still, the vibe was uber casual; Kauai Beer Company’s one of those places where everyone was having a good time (case in point: a young woman brought along a life-sized cardboard cutout of Obama and asked other patrons to pose for hilarious pictures).

Though the craft brewery is on the newer side — it opened in September 2013 — its beers are well developed and full of flavor. Particular standouts we enjoyed included the Go Red or Go Home (5.7% ABV), an American-style amber ale; the Wit (5.91% ABV), a wheat beer with notes of orange zest; and the delightfully hoppy Beer Co IPA (7.6% ABV). We’ll have to return to try the Black Limousine, a dark lager with toffee notes that’s one of their signature brews.

Honorable Mention

While our time in Hawaii was limited, we learned about other Hawaiian watering holes during our visit. Folks also recommended checking out Maui Brewing Company, Waikiki Brewing Company, House Without A Key, Bar Leather Apron, and Bevy.

Essential Info:
Looking for lodging for your next stay in Hawaii? We stayed at the Volcano Inn on the Big Island of Hawaii and the Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue, Kauai, and highly recommend both. The Volcano Inn is a great option if you want to be in the center of the action for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Like traditional guidebooks? We suggest both Fodor’s Kauai and Fodor’s Big Island of Hawaii. I gravitate toward those orange labels and sound advice!
Want a guidebook that’s no nonsense with insider secrets? Kauai Revealed and Hawaii The Big Island Revealed can’t be beat.

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Looking for the best places to drink in Hawaii? We've found spots serving cocktails, wine, and beer. One spot even overlooks a volcano!

Where do you like to drink in Hawaii? Sound off in the comments below!


(As usual, all associated costs were paid by me, and all opinions are my own. Most links are included for informational purposes only. There are some affiliate links, and I will earn a tiny percentage of the sale if you purchase through it at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting It’s Five O’Clock Here!)

4 thoughts on “Where to Drink in Hawaii Right Now

  1. Ashley Smith

    I’d figure with a pineapple allergy just entering Hawaii would be a dangerous thing! I consumed more pineapple in Hawaii than was probably safe for anyone.
    I LOVE Kona Brewing but they stopped importing my all-time fave beer – Wailua Wheat. Argh!!
    And that Volcano House is such an awesome place to hang out! I freaking love Hawaii.

    1. Julianne

      You’re hilarious. You can have all my pineapple on any future trips we take together. 🙂

      Sorry to hear about the Wailua Wheat! One can still hope…!

  2. Justin

    I’m so jealous. Hawaii sounds incredible right about now. And I’m no stranger to Kona Brewing Company’s offerings. I used to order them when we dined at Roy’s, a chain of restaurants based in Hawaii, which had an outpost back where we lived in AZ. Coincidentally, my brother and his family are headed to Hawaii (their first trip there) THIS coming weekend! #promptlysharingyourpost 😉

    1. Julianne

      I know! I’m back in the cold NYC weather, and I’m missing the warm weather from Hawaii (and New Orleans, for that matter). My brother initially suggested that we visit Kona Brewing Company because he’d bought their Longboard Island Lager before, and it turned out to be really good. As a side note, I’ve been to Roy’s too, but only on Maui (didn’t realize it was on the mainland too!).

      That’s awesome about your brother and his family. First time in Hawaii? I hope it certainly won’t be their last! 🙂

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