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Friday, September 10, 2004
Jackie has flair to spare
IF I were still bartending these days, you'd probably describe me as a straightforward, no-nonsense type of server.
Ordering a Jack and Coke? I could have it made for you in 15 seconds or less, with a six or seven-count pour of whiskey and a quick hit of cola from the soda gun. No frills, just quick liquor.
But that wouldn't fly at Jackie's Kitchen, where everyone mixing drinks is trained as a flair bartender. Ever seen the movie "Cocktail?" If you have, then you already know what goes on inside the restaurant on the third floor of Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Owned by Hong Kong action movie star Jackie Chan, Jackie's Kitchen held its grand opening back in June after a soft opening last December.
And while you can enjoy a meal here without ever having to look at the bar, you're missing out if you don't take at least a little bit of time to stop and appreciate the skill it takes to toss a variety of bottles in the air without dropping them.
WHILE THE best seats to watch the bartenders work are the 10 in front of the bar itself, most of the dining area to the left of the front entrance also provides a decent view of the flair bartending fun.
Order a drink, and the folks at Jackie's swing into action. Just picking up a bottle is no small task for these guys -- a quick flip sends it flying from the shelf into the bartender's waiting hand before he proceeds to toss it in the air again, this time catching it with the spout pointed down into a mixing cup.
Everything used in mixing a drink is fair game for a flair bartender. Not only do the liquor bottles get flipped and tossed (and sometimes dropped), but serving glasses, mixing cups, garnishes and other bartending tools of the trade are also incorporated into what could be considered a performance, depending on what drink you order.
Since most of the staff has been with Jackie's Kitchen from its inception, the time it takes for a drink to get made isn't much longer than the wait you'd normally endure at some other Honolulu watering holes. Besides, you'll probably forget about the wait because you're too busy watching the bartenders do their thing.
The flair aspect here even carries over to the way drinks are served to customers. For example, after ordering a martini during my visit last week, the drink arrived not on a tray, but balanced on the forehead of one of the bartenders!
I even had to pause for a moment before taking the glass, thinking that this guy would somehow be able to flip the drink and have it land on my table without losing a drop of alcohol. But a good martini is a terrible thing to waste, so I just grabbed it instead.
WITH ITS high ceilings, Asian-inspired theme and Jackie Chan movie posters on the walls, there's nothing aesthetically wrong with this place. The addition of "Rush Hour" drink specials from 4 to 7 p.m. daily make it an attractive alternative to happy hours at nearby Morton's and the Mai Tai Bar.
During "Rush Hour," Coors Light and Killian's Irish Red draft beers are $2.50 each, with Skyy Vodka martinis and cosmopolitans available for $3 each.
Cheap drinks, a relaxing atmosphere and talented flair bartenders to entertain you -- sounds like a great way to unwind after work to me, or even someplace worth checking out the next time you get dragged to the mall for a shopping expedition.
How much for a Bud Light?
E-mail Jason Genegabus at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions of neighborhood bars to visit.
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