2012 MauiTime Bar Guide

“The hard part about being a bartender,” said the writer Richard Braunstein, “is figuring out who is drunk and who is just stupid.”

Bartending is, without a doubt, the toughest of all service industry jobs. Especially on one of the most popular tourist islands in the world.

Part chemist and part psychologist, a bartender has to managed both the often contradictory wishes of the customer with the physical science of alcohol. There’s a good reason why the words “balance” and “patience” appear often in the document that follows.

As in year’s past, we went to a wide variety of establishments around the island–locals only dives, touristy restaurants, fine dining establishments in luxurious resorts–and talked with the men and women behind the bar about what made their jobs wonderful, and wonderfully difficult. What follows is a fascinating series of snapshots into the exacting work that goes into the seemingly simple act of making someone a drink.

Going out for an evening that includes an alcoholic beverage should be a fun and enjoyable experience, and everyone we spoke with does his or her best to make that happen. But please remember to drink safely. Bartenders can do outstanding and incredible things with the simplest of ingredients, but it’s up to us customers to behave responsibly.

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Jeff Groh: Merriman’s Kapalua

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

As spirits go I would have to say Bourbon, but if you ask my bartenders they’ll laugh and tell you I can’t make a cocktail without bitters. The last drink I made with bourbon was Elijah Craig: homemade ginger beer, lime juice and Fee’s Old fashioned bitters.

What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?

Less sugar, better spirits, and a controlled use of tropical fruit. Also, I might ban blenders.

What’s your bar’s signature drink?

Any response other than a Mai Tai is probably wishful thinking. I’d like to think that our bar’s signature is using great spirits and keeping them prominent in our cocktails. Yeah there are tropical elements–mango in the tequila drink or pineapple with the vodka but you can taste the spirits. It’s a cocktail, damn it–not fruit punch! We also make more ingredients in our bar than in any other I know of but that’s another story.

What’s your signature drink?

Bourbon and Hibiscus with Peychauds bitters. It’s a slant rhyme off a Manhattan but made “island-style” and not too sweet.

What are your influences?

My children are huge influences. My youngest daughter Madeline will ask me, “Dad did you do wine today?” and I’ll be like, “Oh yeah, Daddy totally did wine today” and then my oldest wants to help me make cocktails, which I know is trouble. I tried teaching them about fermentation this summer. We made a Kula strawberry ginger soda and lost two-thirds of the batch to bottles violently exploding, which was a pity because it was easily the best soda I’d ever tasted. It was just kind of dangerous to drink. I think it’s important to make science fun and half of drinking is science.

What’s your ultimate dream bar like?

I think my ultimate bar would be a tiki bar in Indo that was built palapa-style right on the beach, complete with thatch roof and sand floor. There’d be a perfect point break in front and I’d surf half the day and start work in the afternoon when the winds came up. There’d be hammocks as well as tables and all the fruits and juices would be sourced locally. We’d distill our own rum from cane juice and have a reserve bottling that was 30 years old. Our clientele would be ex-pats, supermodels, surf pros, unpretentious artists and philosophers. Half the people are drinking cocktails, and the other half champagne–champagne sales are very important to my ultimate bar. We’d have a rad house band. Then one day Sally Fitzgibbons comes in to surf and we fall madly in love and get married out in the lineup, then party back at the bar.

What’s interesting about being a bartender on Maui?

There’s a new plane arriving every hour and you never know who’s going to walk into your bar.
What makes a good bartender?

The best bartenders are always still learning and looking for something new, whether it be technique or an ingredient that’s going to make a drink better. I’m curious by nature and I’d like to think I stay true to this goal, but I’m not a bartender day-in and day-out. I wear a lot of hats in our restaurant.

What’s the newest drink you have created?

Big Island Honey, tamarind and a Cognac “Sidecar.” It’s a combination of the sweet and sour that you get from tamarind rounded out by honey and then enlivened with the woodsy spice of Hennessy Cognac. It reminds me of biting into the perfect apple, but the apple bites back! Oh yeah, it has bitters–all my cocktails tend to have bitters…

*****

Angel Salavec: Maui Arts & Cultural Center

Pavilion Courtyard bars

What spirit do you like the most?

I think vodka is the most versatile. I enjoy making these tasty ‘lil martinis called “Chocolate Cake” which is vodka and Frangelico, shaken until chilled cold, with a rim of sugar and a lemon slice. Delicious!

What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?

Well, I have a dream of opening my own bar in this lifetime, but I’m constantly hearing how difficult it is to get permits, etc. to open one on Maui.

What is your bar’s signature beverage?

It’s ever-changing. We’re constantly changing our menus to suit the the performance of the evening. We offer drink specials that complement the show or artist being featured.
What’s your signature drink?

I love dark rum. Myers and pineapple juice with a spritz of soda and a slice of lime is always a refreshing tropical treat.

When you are making a cocktail what is the most important thing?

Engaging the customer while quickly making their drinks with a smile. I think people appreciate when you’re not grumpy and slow. Eye contact, speed, consistency and a good sense of humor are essential. Well, the humor helps. Our bars aren’t really set up to lounge at, so working fast is essential to keep the crowd moving along.

What are your regulars like?

Since the MACC bar is currently only open during MACC events, our patrons change with the scenery. From locals coming to see their families perform in hula shows to locals and tourists alike venturing in for a variety of acts like big-name concerts or free community festivals. From our more “environmentally aware/ free thinkers” who often show up to support the Ted X talks and film fests to a younger more “hip” crowd that you’ll see at the “The Shins” or MACC’s ArT=Mixx, which features cutting edge visuals, costumes and heavy bass electronic dance music. The MACC is very versatile and so are our regulars.

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Katie Conlee: Lahaina Sports Bar

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

We just started carrying Effen Cucumber Vodka and I love it!! Vodka, ginger with a splash of sour. It’s so refreshing.

What is your bar’s signature drink?

The Green Flash! Stoli Vanilla, Midori and pineapple.

What’s the most important thing about making a drink?

Consistency. I want it to be good every time.

What are your regulars like?

Longtime Lahaina residents and young service industry folks.

What makes a good bartender?

Attentiveness and friendliness. I always try to make sure people have a full drink and full tummies. I genuinely care about the well being of all of our guests. Whether they’re celebrating an anniversary, sport team or even having a crappy day. I try to make it as good as possible, safely!

What is the newest drink you’ve created?

The Yellow Rose: Stoli and Stoli honey, fresh orange juice, lime juice, lemonade soda and Sprite, on the rocks.

*****

Hakien Pagan: Food & Beverage Manager, Molokini Bar and Grille, Makena Beach Resort

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Gin.

What’s the last drink you made with it?

“Red Velvet” Hendricks, raspberry, lemon, cucumber and simple syrup.

What’s your bar’s signature drink?

We have multiple using fresh herbs or “Herb’n Cocktails” from our Chef’s on-site garden. Our signature drinks are The Molo Rita and Lemongrass Fizz.

What’s the most important thing when making a cocktail?

Balance and the expression on the guest’s face that says, “Wow, what was that? I want more.”
What is one interesting thing about being a bartender on Maui?

The obvious answer is the ability to meet new people daily. Especially in the hotels. You never know who will be sitting at your bar and the experience to be had.

What makes a good bartender?

Personality, charm, true and genuine hospitality. Pride in your craft and the ability to share it with everyone who sits with you. At one time, a bartender’s social status was alongside that of doctors and lawmen, held in a high regard among their peers.

*****

Misti Kotter: Hard Rock Cafe

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Bacardi Dragonberry/Strawberry Lemonade

What is the last incredible wine or beer you drank?

Menage a Trois. It’s a red blend using Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel.

What is your bar’s signature beverage?

Hurricane. It’s a mango twist on the Mai Tai.

What’s your signature drink?

For Pinktober, we have the Tropical Tatas, which combines Ciroc Coconut, So-Co, Pina Colada mix and strawberries.

Name one new liquor/beer/wine you tasted recently. What was your impression?

Sailor Jerry’s Rum. I thought it had a good spice to it. It went down smoothly and gets you drunk like a sailor.

*****

Noel Sanchez: Ko, The Fairmont Kea Lani

What’s the last incredible wine or beer you drank?

Gaja Barbaresco: phenomenal balance of tannins and lingering finish.

What’s your bar’s signature drink?

The Ko Plantation. We also have a variety of wines and Maui Brewing Co. Beers.

What’s your signature drink?

Peach margarita.

When you are making a cocktail what is the most important thing?

Using fresh ingredients.

What makes a good bartender?

A good bartender is attentive, makes good eye contact with guests, has knowledge of spirits and wines and is clean and efficient behind the bar.

What’s the newest drink you’ve created?

My newest creation is a Basil Martini: fresh basil, vodka, St. Germain and fresh lemon juice.

*****

Christopher Michael Nevins: Fours Seasons Lobby Lounge

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Sammy Hagar’s Beach Bar Rum. The last drink I made with it was this year’s Mai Tai mix-off winner: the “Kipahulu Lulu,” which is Sammy’s beach bar rum, mint-infused orgeat, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, Coruba dark rum and Bing cherry foam, served with julienned Kaffir lime leaf.

What’s the last incredible wine or beer you drank?

Hitachino White Ale from Japan. Amazing beer, with a great story behind the brew company as well. They concentrated on bottled water after the tsunami to assist with the relief.

What influences you?

Chefs! The culinary world has huge influences on the cocktail world. I love Thai food and Thai-inspired drinks. For example, the Thai-garita on our menu: Lemon grass tea, ginger liqueur, chili peppers, tequila and fresh sour mix. So take the flavors of the region and incorporate into your beverage. Fresh and local is always better.

What’s interesting about being a bartender on Maui?

“Talk story” is a Hawaiian staple experience. As a bartender, this is mandatory. What makes my job so great is listening to the guests’ stories of what they have planned. Of course I love making recommendations of activities as well.

What makes a good bartender?

Eye contact. I genuinely care for our guests and want them to have the best experience possible. Listening and helping out goes a long way. Plus I love what I do, where I do it and the amazing team around me.

*****

Danielle Palone: Spankys Riptide

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Tequila. I recently made a lilikoi Margarita with Correlejo.

What is your bar’s signature drink?

Corona bottles and PBR on draft.

When you are making a cocktail what is the most important thing?

Putting a little love in it. Use fresh fruit instead of adding extra juices and fake flavors.

What makes a good bartender?

Someone who is aware, knows the customer and can read people. It’s our job to make sure people are having fun while being safe, providing food and water when it’s needed and knowing about what we are serving. I love my job and strive to learn more every day.

What is the newest drink you’ve created?

Blueberry Lilikoi Lemonade: Stoli blueberry with passion fruit, soda water, a splash of lemonade and a splash of sprite with a squeeze of lime.

*****

Brook Fowler: Dog and Duck Irish Pub

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Whiskey. Janet from Southern Wines and Spirits showed us a fun new drink called the Dickel in Cider. I’ve been making them like a bomb, with a half pint cider and one shot of George Dickel’s Tennessee whisky. You drop the shot in the pint glass and chug.

What’s the last incredible wine or beer you drank?

Angry Orchard Crisp Apple is by far my new favorite beer/cider. It’s crisp and refreshing. You can drink it straight from the bottle or pour it over rocks and add a shot of Fireball Whiskey. It’s a Dog and Duck favorite.

What’s the most important thing when you’re making a cocktail?

Balance. No matter what combination of ingredients, balance is key.

What are your regulars like?

At Dog and Duck our regulars are like family. They are a really fun crowd. If you come to Dog and Duck on any day during happy hour, you’re guaranteed a good time.

What makes a good bartender?

A good bartender not only keeps your drink full but has to be having a good time doing it. While bartending in a tourist destination you have to be willing to share some of the island local secrets. I try to do all the above.

*****

Richard Greene: Grotto Bar, Grand Wailea

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Absolut Vodka. The last drink I made with this was Wailea Splash.

What is the last incredible wine or beer you drank?

I’m like Sam Malone from Cheers. Haven’t had a drink for 28 years. One day at a time.

What’s the most important thing when making a drink?

Keep it consistent with the recipe. A good pour and garnish with fresh-cut fruit.

What are your regulars like?

The nicest people you want to know and I’m blessed with that.

What makes a good bartender?

The ability to multi task, be efficient, remember return guests by name and make new guests feel like they are part of the ohana.

What’s the newest drink you’ve created?

The Grotto Bar Caipirinha. It’s Brazil’s national drink but we like to expand on it with muddled limes and lots of brown sugar and give two ounces of Sagatiba Cachaca Rum.

*****

Chelsey Lang: Haui’s Life’s A Beach

If you could change one thing about the drinks business on Maui what would it be?

Everyplace be like Haui’s Life’s A Beach and serve draft beer in true 16-ounce pints, not the short pints that most bars use.

What’s your signature drink?

Lava Flows, Pina Coladas.

What’s the most important thing when making a cocktail?

Use the right proportions and always smile.

Name one new liquor/beer/wine you tasted recently. What was your impression?

Stoli Hot Jalapeno Vodka. Spicy and delicious.

What’s the newest drink you have created?

Afternoon Delight: Sky Ginger Vodka with Absolut Citron Vodka and soda water.

*****

David Mahl: Ruth’s Chris Steak House Lahaina

What’s the last spectacular drink you had?

It was a syrah by Charles Smith. It was a big syrah but light and fruity at the same time.

What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?

Like Ren McCormick would say, we should be able to dance when and where we want.

What’s your signature drink?

Lahaina Ocean-Tini made with Blueberry Vodka and Hypnotiq.

What’s the most important thing when making a drink?

To show love and passion with your ingredients.

Who or what influences you?

Todd Graham, the current Arizona State Football Coach, and his teaching discipline with a winning attitude.

What’s your ultimate dream bar?

My concept is like an old school public house, specializing in bourbon/whiskey cocktails. It would also be known as the bar with the most bourbon/whiskey and scotches on the island. We would serve gastro pub fare and it would be located in Wailea.

Name one new drink you tasted recently. What was your impression?

Rogue Bacon Maple Ale in collaboration with Voodoo Donuts. It was a very heavy beer with a slight taste of maple and bacon in your cheeks and mouth afterwards.

What is the newest drink you’ve created?

Pink Panther, which is like a Cosmo but with a couple of twists.

*****

Don Bastian: Mama’s Fish House

What would you change about the drinks business on Maui?

Fewer drinks requiring a blender.

What influences you?

Chef Perry’s amazing kau kau.

What’s your ultimate dream bar?

Are you kidding? Do you know where I work?

What makes a good bartender?

A good bartender takes pride in his profession, has a good personality behind the bar, is accurate and can make a drink exactly the same every time.

What’s the newest drink you have created?

Garden Variety is the name: one and a half ounces of gin, two ounces of Beverage Artistry’s Thai Basil & Black Pepper, then fill with club soda. It’s a work in progress, and is not on the menu yet.

*****

Randi Schnider: Diamonds Ice Bar and Grill

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Jager!

What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?

Bring back the pitchers.

What is your bar’s signature drink?

Jager. We’re the top selling bar in jager on the island.

What’s your signature drink?

Jager. It’s what I drink.

Name one new liquor you tasted recently. What was your impression?

Angry Orchid Cider with Cinnamon Fireball Whiskey. It was refreshing.

What are your regulars like?

Lots of construction workers, business ladies, all ages from 21-60, Kihei regulars. Great, fun people who come here to have a great time.

What makes a good bartender?

Personality and multi-tasking makes everything. I know my regulars, their wives’ names and where they work. Get to know them and their little demands, certain straws or glassware they like. It makes all the difference in the world.

*****

Allie Busby: Spankys Riptide

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Tequila.

What’s your signature drink?

Margaritas are my favorite. I call them Allieritas.

What’s the most important thing when making a drink?

Taste.

What are your regulars like?

They’re an awesome group of locals and industry people.

What makes a good bartender?

Multi-tasking and having a smile on your face. I’m always smiling. I can’t seem to stop.

*****

Jason Vendrell: Monkeypod Kitchen

How did you get a job there?

I helped open it.

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

I love tequila and whiskey. I recently made a drink called the Makawao Avenue with Makers Mark Bourbon, lemon, Angostura Bitters, honey and a housemade cayenne-ginger beer. It’s surprisingly refreshing.

What would you change about Maui’s liquor business?

I wish people were more curious and adventurous.

What is your bar’s signature drink?

I think the Monkeypod Mai Tai, for sure. I have other favorites, but it’s just one of those drinks you can’t miss out on trying.

What’s your signature drink?

Ho’opono Potion: tequila, aperol, lime, simple syrup and muddled cucumber.

What influences you?

My best friend owns a native plant nursery in Kula that inspires me. I also read a lot.
What makes a good bartender?

Patience, willingness to smile (even under duress) and dedication to mastering your craft.
What is the newest drink you have created?

I’m really into gin right now and am working on a drink called the Owl & Pussycat (named after the children’s book): gin, Pimms, ginger syrup, lemon and grapefruit bitters.

*****

Wendy Agustin: Haliimaile General Store

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Probably rum. I love making culinary cocktails, and it’s versatile for our island-style drinks.

What’s your signature drink?

Oh my, there are many. Perhaps our Lemon grass Ginger frost.

What are your regulars like?

We look forward to seeing our guests “come home.” We have a few editions now of our family photo albums, our customers who have earned their way into the book.

What is one interesting thing about being a bartender on Maui?

Everyone is happy to be here, and to have their familiar and friendly bartender to look forward to, visit after visit.

What makes a good bartender?

Consistency, seasonal and fresh ingredients, a passion for creating and sharing with your customers.

What is the newest drink you have created?

“Uncle Joe’s Ruby Red.” Joe Gannon was my inspiration for this drink. He grows the best grapefruits and loves to bring me fresh squeezed juice from his trees. I created a Ruby red grapefruit with a mint sour infusion and a kosher salt rim. It’s a balance of fresh fruit and herb, sweet, sour and salty.

*****

Triston Rodrigues: Gannon’s Red Bar

What would you change about Maui’s liquor business?

People would still have fun but practice a better designated driver system.

What’s the most important thing when making a drink?

Taste and presentation.

Who or what influences you outside of the beverage business?

Surfing.

Name one new liquor you tasted recently. What was your impression?

Svedka Coloda vodka. It was a pina colada in one bottle.

What makes a good bartender?

Being a good listener.

What’s the newest drink you have created?

Jermiah Weed’s Sweet Tea Vodka, Makers Mark Bourbon, agave nectar, our tropical tea and house lemonade.

*****

Chase Wilhelmsen

Spago, Four Seasons Maui

How did you get a job there?

I started as a backserver six years ago and worked my way up.

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Vodka, because you can be the most creative with it. Maui Sunset was the last drink I made with it: Van Gough Mango Vodka, Canton Ginger Liqueur and fresh lilikoi puree.

What is the last incredible wine or beer you drank?

Schafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, from an incredible wine maker and winner of the coveted James Beard award. It’s a beautiful fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon with hints of cedar box and an underlying essence of chocolate, leaving you with a long finish wanting more. It’s from Napa Valley, California.

What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?

Being able to light alcohol on fire as part of the show.

What’s your bar’s signature drink?

Cucumber Martinis, Pineapple Ginger Mojitos and classic cocktails like a Negroni or Sidecar, which most bartenders on Maui have never heard of.

What’s the most important thing when making a drink?

Precision. Being accurate with classic and corporate recipes is important for a consistent product.
Name one new liquor/beer/wine you tasted recently. What was your impression?

Stoli chocolate-covered raspberry. It was so delicious and smooth you don’t even need a mixer. I’ve also recently discovered Red Breast Irish Whiskey, which is absolutely delicious.

What are your regulars like?

Locals who come in once or twice a month who are looking to treat themselves to the finest Maui has to offer.

What makes a good bartender?

Not having to wait for a drink. I go out to bars/restaurants a lot and my friends and I always sit at the bar. The ones who keep my glass full are always my favorite. Attention to detail is what makes me a good bartender. You never want when you’re at my bar. Spago is the perfect fit for me because of our outstanding customer service.

*****

Fred (Freddie) Sconfienza: Tropica Restaurant & Bar, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

It depends on the direction I’m going with when making a drink. I typically let my customers give me a direction, then customize a drink that I think they will truly enjoy. If I’m making something light and fresh, I enjoy working with gin. Lately, I’ve been using cognacs and aged rums paired with fruits and citrus for a beverage with a deeper flavor profile.

What is your bar’s signature drink?

We have a few signature martinis. Tropica Bar has the Dragonberry Bomb cocktail made with fresh blackberries, fresh lime, St. Germain Elderflower and Bacardi Dragonberry Rum. Our signature blended drink is the Nutty Hawaiian: Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Macadamia Nut Liqueur, coconut cream, floated with Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur and the rim is dipped in chocolate syrup and macadamia nuts.

What’s the most important thing when making a drink?

Make it full of flavor, but it must be BALANCED!

Who or what influences you?

I can’t just narrow it down to one thing. Absorbing everything in my travels has a huge influence on me in recent years. Also, a couple of old mentors of mine who are not in the beverage business have and still influence me to this day. Lastly, my kids have a huge influence in my life. They make me want to learn new things, which is such a good thing.

What makes a good bartender?

A good bartender will ask a customer questions before making a cocktail for them. I try to find out what my guest are looking for and make sure they are fine with giving me the creative freedom to make their drink. I like to personalize their experience through their drinks.

What is the newest drink you have created?

I had a guest ask for a tropical drink made with Scotch. I put together Scotch, fresh lime juice, mango puree, splash of passion fruit and fresh sliced jalapeno. This was the first time I had tried it. The smoky flavor from the Scotch really worked well with the spice from the jalapeno and sweet mango.

*****

Jade Bowman: Charley’s Restaurant and Saloon

How did you get a job there?

I got a phone call on a Sunday asking if I could come in and train that night. I was not sure if I wanted to take the job, so I called my mom and asked her. “Well, Hell ya, Jade,” she said, so I went in. I’ve been at Charley’s for over a year and that’s the longest I’ve ever been at a job continuously.

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Vodka! I love it because there are endless options for cocktails when mixing it. Plus there are like a thousand different flavors: marshmallow, whipped cream, blueberry! The last drink I made with it was a Dirty Goose. I have a funny saying about Martinis: come ask me sometime!

What is your bar’s signature drink?

We recently created a new drink menu and it’s got the tastiest cocktails, including an Organic Agave Margarita and a White Gummytini with fruity gummy bears at the bottom!

What’s your signature drink?

A long time ago, when I was first learning to bartend, a lady came in and ordered “something fruity and sweet, but strong.” If you’re a bartender, I know you’re laughing right now. So I mixed a few things together and she wrote on the receipt, “Thanks for the absolutely delicious Martini.” That was four years ago and I still have the note. I think the drink tastes like sunshine! Either way, it’s delicious and it’s also made it to our drink list at Charley’s. It’s called the Maui Martini.

What’s the most important thing when making a drink?

Don’t forget the liquor! Smiling is usually a good idea, too.

Who or what influences you?

Honey Boo Boo.

What’s an interesting thing about bartending on Maui?

I love bartending on Maui because so many people on this island work in the service industry, so they completely understand when it’s really busy and it takes a few minutes to get a drink on a busy night.

What makes a good bartender?

A good bartender is someone who can smile when shit hits the fan, which is a lot harder than it sounds.

What’s the newest drink you have created?

We have a whole new menu of new drinks including the Paia Punch, which features Bacardi Oakhart, Malibu and 151.

*****

Cidronio D. Bumanglag, Jr. (aka Junior): Ono Bar & Grill, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

How did you get a job there?

I started at the resort as a pool attendant and was later accepted into a management training program in the Food and Beverage Department. One day when one of our bartenders called in sick, I was asked to set up Tropica Bar and found that I did a pretty good job. This encouraged me to learn more about the bar business and when a bartender position opened, I applied and here I am. It took a few tries but I did it.

What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?

Customers should have an open mind and try different cocktails instead of the fruity tropical ones that Hawaii is known for. They are good but you can have that anywhere. At Ono Bar & Grill, we have different flavors to offer our guests innovative cocktails with a local flair.

What’s the most important thing when making a drink?

Having fun making it. The drink is only as good as the person creating the concoction.

What are your regulars like?

The regulars are fun because they already know who you are and enjoy the personality traits you share with them. I enjoy the ones whom you can really talk to.

What is interesting about being a bartender on Maui?

I like the challenge. There is always something new that can be created amidst the diversity found on the island.

What makes a good bartender?

There are different traits to becoming a good bartender but, for me, it’s having fun at what I am best at and the opportunity to share my creations with the customers.

*****

Kendal Easterling: Pineapple Grill

What spirit do you work with the most?

Tequila. Margarita Top Shelf, of course.

What’s your bar’s signature drink?

The Alii Mai Tai. It’s made with fresh squeezed lime, orgeat syrup, orange curacao, Bacardi, guava and pineapple juice, dark rum and 151 rum.

What’s your signature drink?

Da Faisky Whiskey! Whiskey, peach syrup, carmelized Maui Gold Pineapple, fresh squeezed lemon and lime and pineapple juice. It’s all shaken tableside in a mason jar by your server.

What’s the most important thing about being a bartender on Maui?

Consistency, taste and preparation, along with fresh ingredients.

What makes a good bartender?

Efficiency, attitude and consistency. The ability to make someone’s bad day turn around. I’m always having fun and never showing it if I’m busy.

*****

Sandy Jean: Joe’s Bar and Grill Wailea

How’d you get this job?

I was pimping leis so they already knew me here. I got hired on for a season in 2007 and I’m still here.

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

Square One cucumber vodka and a drink called the Relaxer.

What’s your signature drink?

A slightly dirty cucumber Martini with bleu cheese-stuffed olives. Yum!

What’s your newest drink?

The Hula Girl: Stoli blueberry, Chambord, Pina Colada mix, strawberry puree, all garnished with coconut and an orchid.

*****

James Shoemaker: Moana Café in Paia

How’d you get this job?

Well, I would hope it was experience and original cocktails but you know, being named on the MauiTime Most Essential Bartender List 2011 didn’t hurt.

What spirit do you like to work with the most?

American whiskey. I make a mean Sazerak.

What is the last incredible wine you drank?

2008 Mangus by Arizona Stronghold winery. The grapes are grown in Cochise County, AZ by Tool frontman Maynard Keenan and this bottle of Jesus Juice made its way to me on a volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean. It’s pretty spectacular.

What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?

The bureaucracy.

What is your favorite happy hour on Maui?

Well, it was Kahale’s Beach Club but they got rid of the Auto-Fry so now it’s Dog & Duck. Why? Three words: Harp Irish Lager.

What is your bar’s signature drink?

Lost.

What is your signature drink?

Year of the Dragon Mai Tai.

When you are making a cocktail what is the most important thing?

The spirit to bitters to sugar to water ratio.

Who or what influences you?

I read cookbooks.

Name one new liquor you tasted recently. What was your impression?

Okolehao by Haleakala Distillers. I love this uniquely Hawaiian cane-based spirit at Moana Café, come by for a Dharma Initiative and I promise it will blow your head clean off.

What are your regulars like?

I have the best crew of regulars. Sometimes we rock out with bourbon Old Fashioned’s and now The Last Word has found its way into their lives.

What is one interesting thing about being a bartender on Maui?

I like cruising the Saturday swap meet for all kinds of crazy-ass fruit and herbs.

What makes a good Bartender?

Bartending requires considerable study to become an expert. The really great bartenders are people who please their customers, who recognize that there are several grades of cocktails. A good barman can always be told by the way his bench looks.

What’s the newest drink you have created?

Mr Grey. Ok, so we developed this cocktail for all our special lady friends at Moana Café, one of ya’ll left your copy of Fifty Shades of Grey and we were inspired (to say the least): two parts Grey Goose vodka, one part St Germain, fresh Upcountry strawberries, rhubarb bitters and lime juice. Handcuffs are optional.

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