Raising My Glass to Virgin Cocktails

Columns Ono, You Know

April 7, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Happy Sunday, Ono readers! I know, I know, it’s the last day of the weekend before the Monday blues set in, so enjoy today for all it’s worth! Spring is in full bloom, and before we know it warmer temperatures and sunny skies will hint that summer is well on its way. With that said, turn up LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem and bring on them cocktails.

Wait. Hold up. I don’t drink alcohol, but that doesn’t mean the party should come to a screeching halt — it’s Easter, after all. Anyone who knows me knows full-well that I don’t need a drop of alcohol to have a good time. Trust me, natural highs are the best.

Yet, I do love my virgin cocktails such as lava flows, pina coladas and more. They have this magic way about them and makes you feel like you’re on vacation with the very first sip. Maybe it’s the array of vibrant colors, fun straws and fresh fruit garnishing — whatever it is, when cocktails are involved it’s bound to be a blast.

So, sit back, relax and get ready to get your non-alcoholic drink on at the following Ono, You Know establishments. Cheers!

Tropics Bar & Grill

  • The editor has some fun in the sun sipping on Tropics Bar & Grill's virgin Book 'em Danno ($7).
  • Tropics Bar & Grill's virgin Lava Flow ($8)
  • Tropics Bar & Grill's virgin Pina Colada ($8)
  • Tropics Bar & Gril's Book 'em Danno ($7)
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Whenever my work brings me to Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Tropics Bar & Grill, I know I’m in for a treat. This world-class dining establishment caters to both locals and tourists alike, and offers an invitingly picturesque view of Diamond Head, in addition to temptingly delicious grinds and a super-sized bar — the perfect place to quench your thirst and enjoy a cocktail.

Tropics Bar is open to patrons from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily, and bartenders, such as Rocky Nago, are more than happy to serve up virtually any cocktail you can imagine, including the resort’s signature Blue Hawaii, Classic Mai Tai and more.

Yet, being that I don’t consume alcohol, I would assume that there really isn’t much for me to enjoy. Well, guess what? Nago proved me wrong. There’s plenty for the non-drinker to sip on. Where do I even begin? First there are Book ’em Danno ($7), virgin Pina Colada ($8) and virgin Lava Flow ($8). My, oh my!

“By far virgin Pina Colada is the most popular non-alcoholic drink,” Nago says. “It’s one of those cocktails that is definitely more established and it’s something that everyone is familiar with.”

Sweet and creamy, it’s safe to say that yes, “I like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain.” At first sip, you’ll definitely notice a strong emphasis on the coconut flavor blended with a hint of pineapple. It is absolute heaven! But wait … it gets better. My personal favorite when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks has to be a virgin lava flow, and Nago and his team can definitely mix up one of the best virgin lava flows you’ve ever tasted. If you thought the virgin Pina Colada was good, Nago adds a bit of strawberry puree to the resort’s Lava Flow creating an eruption of flavors in your mouth. Now, that’s something to smile about.

And after a sun-soaked day on the beach, cool off with Book ’em Danno, a one-of-a-kind drink created by Nago himself. Listed on the menu as a non-alcoholic refresher, this drink pays tribute to Hawaii Five-0, and the vibrant red and blue colors signify none other than police lights.

“Book ’em Danno has been catching on lately and tastes just like an Otter Pop,” Nago says. “It features blue raspberry puree blended with sweet ‘n’ sour and a splash of soda with strawberry puree. It’s a little extra tart because of the blue raspberry flavor.”

It’s simply paradise on earth at Tropics Bar & Grill.

Tropics Bar & Grill
Hilton Hawaiian Village Ground Floor, Alii Tower
949.4321 ext. 42
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Patisserie La Palme D’Or

  • La Palme D'Or's virgin Lava Flow ($4)
  • La Palme D'Or sales associate Caity Kondo with virgin Lava Flow
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Pure sweetness and absolute decadence take over at Patisserie La Palme D’Or at Ala Moana Center, where customers rave about the many alluring offerings created by head chef Akiko Kimura and the rest of her pastry dream team. La Palme D’Or opened in 2006 and ever since then the marriage of Japanese and European flavors has been thriving. The patisserie’s signature pastry is Gateau Au Fraise (strawberry shortcake), and Cheese D’Or is quite a hit among cheesecake enthusiasts, among a slew of other melt-in-your-mouth creations.

And while the pastries ultimately receive the oohs and ahhs here, its drinks aren’t ones to pass up either, especially Patisserie La Palme D’Or’s Lava Flow ($4). This La Palme D’Or original is a dessert in a cup as it features a creamy blend of a special strawberry puree mixed with condensed milk — sans alcohol, of course! With very few ingredients, sometimes the simple things in life are best.

And while on the topic of non-alcoholic drinks, Jelly Mocha Au Lait ($5.55) is the best energy booster by far, consisting of coffee jelly au lait with La Palme D’Or’s original iced chocolate made from the finest French-produced dark chocolate, and rich and creamy cocoa milk. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be revved up with energy for days. Finally, Plantation Tea Jelly Drink ($4) with 100 percent pineapple juice jelly and sweetened black tea is the perfect drink for spring and summer when the temperature is heating up.

Patisserie La Palme D’Or
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
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Stage Restaurant

  • Stage Restaurant's virgin Dis-So-Ono ($5) (photo courtesy of Stage Restaurant)
  • Stage Restaurant's virgin Garden Mist ($5) (photo courtesy of Stage Restaurant)
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Virgin drinks take center stage at none other than Stage Restaurant Bar and Amuse Wine Bar. Located on the second floor of the Honolulu Design Center, this fabulously modern establishment spotlights a state-of-the-art interior complete with statement lighting, stylish hues and eclectic furnishings, not to mention the extensive artwork on display.

And Happy Hour (Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.) is a must here — all signature cocktails are available for $5. What’s even better is the fact that the bar doesn’t discriminate against those who don’t consume alcohol. In fact, Stage Restaurant Bar has quite a few virgin drink options that are definite must-haves, including the standard Lava Flow, Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, Li Hing Daiquiri and Margarita (all $5). Yet, what sets Stage apart are the unique virgin cocktails, which Stage’s bartenders can mix up in no time. For example, Dis-So-Ono ($5) features Coco Lopez Coconut Syrup and chocolate syrup blended and topped with whipped cream and a savory chocolate drizzle. Next, just in time for spring, Stage’s Garden Mist is refreshingly perfect in every sense of the word. Imagine a chilled glass filled to the brim with an elaborate blend of fresh muddled cucumber, basil and lime juice, liquid sugar and ginger ale — before you know it, you’ll be sipping your way into oblivion.

Finally, a Stage experience isn’t complete without sampling its exquisite contemporary Asian-American cuisine.

Stage Restaurant
Honolulu Design Center
1250 Kapiolani Blvd.
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