Capische? has an epicurean culture that spills over into its happy hour scene. Chefs Brian Etheredge and Christopher Kulis have done an excellent job crafting nouveau cuisine using their garden (located just a few yards away), local proteins and lofty inspirations. It’s the same situation at the bar. The cocktails rely heavily on a refined list of spirits that pour into vintage recipes updated with local fruits, also grown nearby. They’ve also successfully created a spirit of ohana–and not just with the staff–and they do a great job of welcoming you gracefully.
The lounge at Capische? is the perfect backdrop; it’s hip without being smugly hipster. The architecture has a mid-century vibe that I love, and the sunsets at happy hour seal the deal. The space they have at Hotel Wailea is unique and intimate–it won’t matter if you’ve been there before, or it’s your first time, taking a ride on their happy hour train is quality time.
On a recent visit, Wine Director Tarah Principato spent some time with me at the bar showing me the ropes. Their cocktail menu was inspired by our romantic obsession with gangsters (real and fictional) like Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and Sonny Corleone. You’ll see their names and personalities come to life in boozy concoctions made with Fernet, Koloa rum, Templeton rye and Pimm’s.
Principato takes me through her Sinner and Saint, perfect for those of us on the fence as to whether your night is going to be naughty or nice. It starts with a champagne glass with a sugar cube balanced on the rim. After Cynar, a gorgeous Italian aperitif of artichoke, is poured over the cube, it’s adorned with a bit of elderflower liqueur of St. Germain and prosecco. If you’re sitting at the bar, watching the bartender concoct the drink is a joy in itself.
I’m a big sucker for the Caipafruita–blame it on the fresh seasonal fruit and refreshing Cachaca. The drink is served in a mason jar. The Capone’s Cup is a complex integration of cucumber, grapefruit, Pimm’s, Fernet and ginger beer and is served in an icy copper mug. Chartreuse has also long been a favorite muse of mine, and it appears in the Ticking Thyme, with its namesake herb and Uncle Val’s Gin. During happy hour, the specialty cocktails are $10.
It’s almost a toss up as to what I like better–the supping or the buzz. Capische?’s charcuterie chef will be your hero when the Malama Farms Salumi Board arrives. The trotter was irresistible–fennel agrodolce, honey comb, flat bread, various cheeses, house pickled veggies; it’s a fierce, multitasking pupu. The grilled Caesar is another play on that solid standby and comes with grilled romaine and garlic aioli. The garden bruschetta, artisan cheeses, ono brandade are other great pupu choices, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. If you need a little pasta lamb and Big Island mushroom, the Orecchiette with manchego and pork fit the bill. All the pupus on the happy hour menu are $10 from 5-7pm, as are the drinks.
If you come on a Friday or Saturday, plan to stay past happy hour for entertainment while the talented Mark Johnstone plays the piano in the lounge. Saturdays can be a treat when Marcus Johnson joins in on his upright base.
Capische? also offers a three-course tasting menu for $75, a seven-course tasting menu for $125 or the Wailea Organic Tasting Menu for $49, all week. Let your server guide you in pairing from their incredible wine list. Remember–wine is a food course.
You can call them at 808-879-2224 for reservations or check their website at Capische.com.
Photos: Sean M. Hower