Tropica’s Happy Hour and Interview with Fred Sconfienza @TheWestinMaui

Fred (Freddie) Sconfienza

Tropica Restaurant & Bar, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

How did you get a job there?

I heard the Westin was hiring, so I dressed well and went to Human Resources to apply. The Director of Restaurants stopped by and saw me with four other applicants. Based upon my past bar experience, I was offered the job later that day.

What spirit do you like to work with the most? What is the last drink you made with it?

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 have been using cognacs and aged rums paired with fruits and citrus for a beverage with a deeper flavor profile.

Perhaps you are a wine and beer fan and distilled beverages don’t float your boat, what is the last incredible wine or beer you drank? What made it spectacular?

I am a fan of distilled beverages as the diversity of flavors inspires me to concoct fun experiences and enjoy them.

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

Encourage bar staff and chefs to work closely together to make the drink list. At Westin Maui, executive chef Garret Fujieda shares his vision and we do likewise, thus the creation of Maui Pineapple Rum by Haleakala Distillers that was originally designed as an exclusively distilled beverage for the resort. Most recently, we have been working with Tropica’s chef de cuisine Jennifer Evetushick in pairing her new menu selections with our creative libations.

What is your favorite happy hour on Maui? Why?

Tropica Bar!  $5 off ANY martini.  Customer names the vodka, gin, bourbon (well, call, top shelf) and they take $5 off whatever the regular price is.

What is your bar’s signature drink/wine/beer?

We have a few signature martinis. Tropica Bar has the Dragonberry Bomb cocktail made with fresh blackberries, fresh lime, St. Germain Elderflower & 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 dipped in chocolate syrup and macadamia nuts).

What is YOUR signature drink? (Or go to wine or beer in your selection?)

This is a tough one.  Probably the new Fresh n’ Hot or the signature Dragonberry Bomb.

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

Full of flavor, but it must be BALANCED!

Who or what influences you outside of the beverage business?

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.

Let’s say you’re pitching an investor who wants you to open your ultimate bar. What is your concept? Where is it located?

A small fresh bar concept utilizing fresh reductions, purees and the diverse fresh produce that Hawaii has to offer, year round.   I would also capitalize on the vast growing craft beer movement and have lots of draft beers (at least 20 handles).  Maui Brewing Company is making some amazing craft beers that are not seen anywhere outside of the brew pub and the tourist are eager to try anything local and pay top dollar.  I would love to find a spot on Ka’anapali Beach with this vision.

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

I tried Boneyard Breweries Hop Venom IPA.  This was maybe the most amazingly intense yet drinkable beer that I have ever had.

What are your regulars like?

We have lot of foodies who like our bar.  Basically, people who care about the quality, freshness and execution that goes into creating a beverage.

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

The ability to meet so many people from all over the world.  I have met some of the most interesting people and I get to hear their stories.

What makes a good bartender? Why are you one?

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? Describe what’s in it.

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 jalapeño.   This was the first time I had tried it. The smoky flavor from the Scotch really worked well with the spice from the jalapeño and sweet mango.

TROPICA HAPPY HOUR – Daily. $5 off signature martini cocktails, $41 three course meal with option for additional $10 wine pairing. 5-6pm and 8-9pm. Tropica, (2365 Kaanapali Pkwy.,  Lahaina); 808-667-2525;

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