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Coverage: Top of Waikiki Throwback to ’65 New Cocktails Tasting Event

This past Tuesday, December 5th, Top of Waikiki held a special media tasting event to introduce their exciting new “retro fab” throwback cocktails, created and presented by their Director of Mixology, Jennifer Ackrill. The innovative collection includes seven signature cocktails, as well as two non-alcoholic refreshers, all based on Top of Waikiki’s original cocktail menu back in 1965 when the iconic revolving restaurant first opened. The presentation also included a set of absolutely onolicious pupus specially created for the tasting event (not available on the menu) by Chef Lance Kosaka.  

La Ronde revolving restaurant Ala MoanaBefore continuing, speaking of throwback, we can’t talk about revolving restaurants without remembering La Ronde, atop the Ala Moana Building. Designed by John Graham and built in 1961, it was the first revolving restaurant in the United States. Later La Ronde was renamed Windows of Hawaii until it closed in the mid ’90s. The La Ronde/Windows of Hawaii revolving restaurant has ever since been closed, with the revolving part of its function welded shut, and is now used as office space. To this day, while no longer a revolving restaurant, the original La Ronde with its unusual UFO-like disc shape, still is an iconic architectural standout within Honolulu city’s ever-growing high-rise skyline. 

I do remember dining at both La Ronde and its later iteration as Windows of Hawaii, where as best I can recall, the food was great, and the revolving views high above Ala Moana Center super spectacular. Thankfully Top of Waikiki carries on that torch! 

Fast-forward (and back) to today, in this 2nd part follow-up to its introduction is the Tasty Island’s coverage of the Top of Waikiki “Throwback to ’65” new cocktail menu tasting event, including photos, captions and commentary. Enjoy. ;-)

Top of Waikiki restaurant and SKY Waikiki lounge Director of Mixology, Jennifer Ackrill ~ 12.5.17

Thomas Obungen of Frolic Hawaii gets some cocktail shots

The presentation begins with an introduction by Top of Waikiki staff

The media group were seated on the 1st and 2nd tier of the 3-tier disc-shaped revolving restaurant. The revolving function was turned off during the presentation. 

Waikiki Daiquiri – A modern twist on a classic daiquiri recipe, it’s made with Flor de Cana 4 year rum, pineapple and lime, over cubed ice. $14 / $9 Happy Hour. 

Top of Waikiki restaurant and SKY Waikiki lounge Director of Mixology, Jennifer Ackrill presents the Waikiki Daiquiri

Hawaiian Goat Cheese and Tomato Jam “Hot Pocket” pupus (not currently available on the menu)

Singapore Sling – Originated in the 1920’s at the Raffles Hotel, this is an updated variation of a long-lost recipe. It’s made with Broker’s London dry gin, Cherry Heering, Benedectine, lime, pineapple, Anhostura bitters and soda, serve tall. $14.

Crab Dip and Sriracha Crostini pupus (not currently available on the menu)

Hawaiian Goat Cheese & Tomato Jam Hot Pocket and Crab Dip and Sriracha Crostini

Toki Collins – This is a Japanese twist on one of the 1960’s most popular cocktails. It’s made with Toki Japanese whiskey, green tea, lime, soda and shiso leaf, served tall. $14.

Pono Planter’s Punch – The addition of local hibiscus gives this Planter’s Rum Punch recipe a tangy, modern flavor. It’s made with Appleton Reserve Jamaican rum, Plantation 3 star rum, lemon, lime, hibiscus and tiki bitters, served tall. $14.

Western Whiskey Sour – Combining whiskey and tequila is a not so obvious combination
that, with jalapeno, makes this sour unforgettable. It’s made with Jim Beam bourbon, Olmeca Altos reposado tequila, lemon, egg whites, jalapeno tincture and cinnamon. $14 / $9 Happy Hour.

Waikiki Daiquiri, Singapore Sling and Western Whiskey Sour 4 oz. samples

Kim Chee Fried Rice Balls ala Arancini with Kim Chee Reduction Sauce

Kim Chee Fried Rice Balls ala Arancini with Kim Chee Reduction Sauce (money shot)

Nihon Guava Gimlet – Lime gives this gimlet its name, while guava, Kikori Japanese rice whisky and Avua cachaca give the drink a fresh, new spin. It’s made with Kikori Japanese rice whisky, Avua cachaca, guava, lime and coriander syrup, served over cubed ice. $14. 

Blue Hawaii – Harry Yee should be proud of this slight adaption of his Hawaiian classic. Made with Pau vodka, Koloa rum, lemon, lime, blue curacao and pineapple, served tall. $14 / $9 Happy Hour.

Olena Heu with the Blue Hawaii (Olena once did a TV segment on the history of the Blue Hawaii cocktail)

Top of Waikiki “Throwback to ’65” cocktail presentation demos and samplers

Beautiful Olena has all these tropical ‘n exotic “Throwback to ’65” cocktail drinks to herself! 

Non-alcoholic Hibiscus Tonic and Mai Tai refresher samples

Anna Gomes, Weekend Producer for KHON2 News (she writes everything the newscasters tell you; formerly from KITV4) with Pomai

Located on the 22nd floor at the very top of the Waikiki Business Plaza, Top of Waikiki panoramic view facing Diamond Head (east) 

Top of Waikiki panoramic view facing makai (oceanside)

Top of Waikiki panoramic view facing Ewa-makai  

Top of Waikiki’s 2nd and 1st tiers of dinner seating revolve one revolution per hour, providing a bird’s eye 360º panoramic view of Honolulu City and Waikiki

The Top of Waikiki bar and top tier of seating in the center of the restaurant is stationary, while the 2nd and 1st tiers of seating a few steps below revolve around it at 1 revolution per hour, providing a bird’s eye 360º panoramic view of Honolulu City and Waikiki

Throwback to ’65 cocktails full spread: Waikiki Daiquiri, Mai Tai Refresher, Pono Planter’s Punch, Blue Hawaii, Hibiscus Tonic, Singapore Sling, Toki Collins, Nihon Guava Gimlet and Western Whiskey Sour

And? Except for one, they were all absolutely delicious! While I’m honestly not a fruity “girly” cocktails fan, these all totally work for me. More so because of how STIFF they were! Whew, after throwing down the first three of the seven cocktails served in smaller 4 oz. sample cups, I was already light headed.

If I had to pick a favorite, one of the top three would be the Blue Hawaii, admittedly just because of its cool blue color having a psychological effect of it being the most “tropical”. Another fave of mine would be the Waikiki Daiquiri, again because of its tropical flavors. My top pick goes to the Western Whiskey Sour,  because of its “whipped” frothy texture thanks to it being made with whipped-up egg whites. Think Hollandaise sauce, albeit with sweet a liquor flavor instead of eggs and butter. This would probably go really well with a steamed or sauteed fish dish at the restaurant. Or perhaps a pasta dish.

Thankfully none came off as too sweet to me.

As for the Hawaiian Goat Cheese & Tomato Jam “Hot Pocket”, Crab Dip & Sriracha Crostini and Kim Chee Fried Rice ala Arancini by Chef Kosaka? OMG! BOMB DOT FRICKIN’ COM! Too bad you can’t order it (as of now), because those pupus (appetizers) were fantastic! 

Huge mahalos to Jennifer Ackrill and the entire aloha spirited staff at Top of Waikiki. Also special thanks to Erika Engle and Theresa Cherry of the Harris Agency/Food Gurus Hawaii. As always, it was a fun ‘n onolicious event! 


Hawaii’s only revolving restaurant, Top of Waikiki, has entertained guests in the heart of Waikiki for over 50 years. It features breathtaking sunset views of Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and the Honolulu city lights with a full rotation completing every hour.

Top of Waikiki offers award-winning Hawaii Regional Steak and Seafood, prepared by Executive Chef Lance Kosaka. This three-tier restaurant is the perfect setting for all occasions, including romantic date nights, dinners with friends and family or private events. The restaurant revolves around an open, sit-down bar where guests can enjoy Waikiki’s best happy hour and feel like they are, well, at the top of Waikiki!

TOP OF WAIKIKI Hours of Operation

  • Nightly 5pm – 9:30pm
  • Happy Hour Nightly 5pm – 9:30pm at the bar
  • Dress code: resort casual, no beachwear and no sleeveless shirts for men · Restaurant reservations available at topofwaikiki.com or by calling (808) 923-3877
  • Validated parking available in the Waikiki Business Plaza and Waikiki Shopping Plaza


  • Executive Chef – Lance Kosaka
  • Executive Sous Chef – Dorvin Shinjo
  • Mixologist – Jennifer Ackrill
  • General Manager – Tina Giesseman
  • Managers – Tamara Leong, John Ooi, Rick Solari

Top of Waikiki
21st floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza
2270 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii  96815

Tel. (808) 923-3877


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