Cuisine And Cocktails Are Key At Halekulani

Cuisine And Cocktails Are Key At Halekulani

"We're at the exciting stage of a multi-level deployment strategy," says Sabine Glissmann, Director of Food & Beverage at the Halekulani, during an exclusive interview for B on Hawaii. If someone were eavesdropping on our conversation, they might think we were talking about a covert military maneuver. However, this 5 year veteran of Waikiki's most exclusive hotel and I are discussing the hotel's rather unique–and persistent–use of F&B "special events" to draw a loyal, well-heeled local following, in addition to building one of the highest repeat guest rates within the Hawaiian Islands.

"Hiring the right people, changing the menus often, fresh floral arrangements--those are the basics. It's sadly what most other hotels tout in press releases. But that, to me, is simply covering your bases; they are essential. It's where you go from there that counts," Glissmann says.

So where do you go from here?

Beginning with the first link in the chain, Glissmann trained the already refined staff for a minimum of one year before allowing them to present new items and practices to guests. Next was a complete re-working of the menus at La Mer, Orchids, House Without a Key and Lewer's Lounge. Towards the end of this stage–some time in the fall of 2004–master mixologist (and former Rainbow Room bartender) Dale DeGroff was brought onboard to custom tailor an exquisite cocktail menu for each restaurant and lounge. Each drink menu needed to aptly suit the venue's food essence, as well as presentation, in addition to fitting the "vibe" of the room. "We launched Dale's drink seminars on a monthly basis last year, and they are going incredibly. Sold out nearly every time," Glissmann adds. (This reporter can attest to their popularity, as I have attended a handful throughout the year. DeGroff is nothing short of spectacular to watch in action, listen to and learn from. He is...the culmination of everything we wish our high school science teachers could only have been: Energetic, engaging and pouring drinks.)

The Halekulani is celebrating its first "Spirit Dinner" on April 28. A single seating of 50 people, those participating will experience accomplished local boy chef Darryl Fujita's Hawaiian contemporary cuisine, paired with DeGroff's cocktails, that have been carefully matched by ingredient. Cost is $150. May 23rd at 6:30 p.m. will be DeGroff's "History of the Julep" cocktail seminar, to run in accordance with the Kentucky Derby. May 25th at 6:30 p.m. will be a Sangria seminar. Cost per each seminar is $50 per person. For all events, call (808) 931-5040 or click on any of the pictures to link to the Halekulani Web site.

"Master mixologist (and former Rainbow Room bartender) Dale DeGroff was brought on board to custom tailor an exquisite cocktail menu for each restaurant and lounge."