FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The downtown nightclub NextDoor is introducing SMARTinis, martinis made with healthy ingredients. Above, bartender Jackie Co pours one.
Get down(town) & get smart
The SMARTbar at NextDoor offers healthier alcohol alternatives
I T'S NO secret that living the party lifestyle can take a serious toll on the human body. Now, one local nightspot is offering a healthier way to imbibe alcohol and providing easy-access alternatives in an effort to introduce customers to an alternative drinking experience.
LACY MATSUMOTO and Chris Kahunahana introduced the SMARTbar concept at NextDoor this month with four new cocktails and a wide variety of non-alcoholic smoothies and juices.
"We'd been talking about having smoothies because I'm not really a big drinker," said Matsumoto. "But when you're at a bar, you tend to just drink what's available."
That got her thinking about bringing in a few blenders and setting them up, Jamba Juice-style, behind the bar. But the cost of ingredients, noise factor and time it would take to make the smoothies from scratch seemed to sink the idea.
So she simplified things instead, opting for bottled Naked Juice and Sambazon organic smoothies.
"Another thing that's cool is that we use local products," Matsumoto said. "The non-alcoholic drinks are way cooler ... everything is organic or local."
Matsumoto's regular visits to the farmers market at Kapiolani Community College resulted in a partnership with Pacific Kool Ginger to provide homemade ginger ale for NextDoor. Big Island Organics Agave Lemonade is also on the menu.
Other healthy options include Kombucha Asian Pear Ginger Blend, which Matsumoto describes as a liver-cleanser, and three different flavors of Zico Coconut Water, which Kahunahana says it his own personal favorite. And Matsumoto insists that Yerba Matte is her new energy drink of choice.
"It makes you more buzzed than a Red Bull," she said. "My security (staff), they split it ... they don't even drink a whole bottle. It's amazing."
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Four of the new drinks at NextDoor, from left: Gin and Kool Ginger, POM Blueberry Soda, POM 100% Pomegranate Martini and SMARTini. Try your hand at mixing your own at home. Two of the recipes are revealed below.
FOR THOSE who must have some alcohol in their cup when they're in the club, NextDoor's SMARTbar currently features four cocktails that utilize healthy ingredients. The menu will change periodically.
POM Blueberry Soda
1 oz Stoli blueberry vodka
1.5 oz POM Wonderful 100% Blueberry Juice
Mix ingredients; serve over ice in a highball glass.
1.5 oz Grey Goose vodka
1 oz Big Island Organics Agave Lemonade
.5 oz of Pacific Kool Ginger Juice (from the KCC Farmers Markert)
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Mix ingredients with ice; shake and strain into a chilled martini glass
All of the drinks were developed by Matsumoto, who drew upon other recipes and her personal taste during the process.
"One of my favorite drinks is a Lemon Drop," she said. "But we're trying to cut down on sugars because that's what gives you a hangover.
"So I took Absolut vodka and ... (added) the Big Island lemonade because the agave in it is naturally sweet."
The result is the SMARTbar's signature cocktail, the SMARTini, which accompanies the POM Blueberry Soda, POM 100% Pomegranate Martini and a twist on gin and juice called Gin and Kool Ginger. Of more than 20 cocktails originally considered, they are the four top choices that Mastumoto wanted to offer.
"You have to think about health foods and try to make people feel comfortable about them," she said. "I took the Pacific Kool ginger and POM juice, things that weren't too super-healthy, so that we could meet the consumer in the middle.
"To choose to be healthy is a personal choice, and we just want to offer an alternative."
"I think the concept will work well here, especially if they're (already) coming back night after night," he said. "Sometimes they don't want to get drunk ... but they still want to come and appreciate the music and entertainment.
"Hey, drink all you want ... but if you don't want to be so hung over, have a coconut water and maybe you won't be hurting so much the next day."