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Modern-Tropical: An Interview with Christian Self of The Waikiki Edition Hotel

Posted on  | June 2, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Christian SelfChristian Self, Bar Chef, The Waikiki Edition Hotel, Honolulu, HI

Touristy Waikiki may bring to mind sprawling resorts and fruity cocktails sipped amid ukulele music, but not at the much-buzzed Edition Hotel. This new urban resort, the brainchild of Ian Schrager, in partnership with Marriott International, is all about luxury and modern style. Christian Self, of the consultancy BarMagic of Las Vegas, a native of Liverpool, England, who is at the helm of the property’s four bars, has called Hawaii home for over a decade. After making a name for himself at hipster art-bar-club 39 Hotel, now he’s proving to guests there’s more to drinking Hawaii-style than a Piña Colada–unless it’s made with homemade horchata.

The Beverage Network: The Edition is now one of Honolulu’s most sought-after hotel destinations. It seems truly unlike any other property in the area.

Christian Self: It’s absolutely beautiful, and something Waikiki has needed for years. It’s contemporary, not the quintessential aloha shirt and pineapple drink experience.

TBN: And the second location just opened in Istanbul.

CS: Yes, I was lucky enough to be sent over there to work on the bar program.

TBN: There are four different bars on property: the Lobby Bar, the nightclub Crazybox, the pool bar and the one on the private Sunset Beach Is it challenging managing so many different venues in one location?

CS: We treat each individual outlet as an individual experience. Classics are served in the lobby, there are more contemporary, high-volume cocktails in the nightclub and at the pool and beach, the offerings are designed to fit the weather–what’s going to catch a guest’s eye and quench their thirst. The key point to any beverage program is having consistency across the board, and all the bar staff here have been trained by BarMagic, so the consistency is always there.

TBN: Are there any signature drinks that are served throughout the hotel?

CS: Yes, the “Deconstructed Mai Tai.” It’s made with Pyrat XO Rum and French almond syrup topped with an orange liqueur-lime-orgeat foam served over ice. The Mai Tai is synonymous with Hawaii even though it wasn’t invented here, but this version is really nice; the orgeat is homemade and you can taste the flavor of each individual component.

TBN: What are some other interesting drinks you’re serving?

CS: We do Twisted Editions of classic cocktails like an Aviation with crème de violette and lavender spice bitters or a “Japanese Julep” with Maker’s Mark, Yamazaki, fresh mint, sugar and green tea in the Lobby Bar; the “Mau Loa” with Ron Zacapa 23 rum, fresh watermelon, lemon sour and cracked pepper is served at Crazybox.

TBN: Is your clientele eager to try these interesting interpretations and delve beyond the gimmicky tropical ones they are used to?

CS: We try and offer a cocktail for every palate. Guests who stay here, however, are typically a bit younger and world travelers. They don’t want to stay where they did before, and come with an open mind.

TBN: What about locals? Are they getting accustomed to good cocktails in Honolulu?

CS: We have a key group of bartenders in town who have been serving up quality cocktails and are pretty well known on the local scene. There’s a demand now, and we’re moving away from mixes to fresh syrups. We’ve always been a bit behind on the island,  but this year there’s been a big explosion; we’re catching up with the mainland.


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