Drink Me: Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea
By Kristin Hashimoto
The place is loudly bustling with activity. The servers hustle, the mixologists at the bar craft creatively, and the line cooks concentrate as wave after wave of locals and tourists walk in and out of the Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman’s, in Wailea.
This young restaurant is the latest project of chef-owner, Peter Merriman. With restaurants on the Big Island, Kauai, and Maui, Merriman brings two decades of his restaurant experience, craftsmanship, love of fresh local food, to this newest venture in “merrymaking.”
Monkeypod has a casual feel, slick wood floors with attractive wood detailing down to the candleholder and salt and pepper shakers. The full bar is made complete with very knowledgeable mixologists who innovate and strive for the wow factor in their signature cocktails and mixed drinks.
The Pod Thai is a refreshing and palate-tickling house cocktail that uses 10 cane rum, crème of coconut, lime, lemongrass-cardamom syrup, and Thai basil. Their Ocean Breeze is also light, herbaceous and delicate as it utilizes Ocean vodka, St. Germain, and simple syrup.
Drinks are taken seriously, as substitutions for vodka or gin types are very politely turned down. Mixologists have crafted their recipes very specifically and thoroughly. To change the type of gin or vodka would change the balance and flavors of the drink. Only fresh squeezed juices are used, herbal infusions are created in house, and foams find their way to the top of some of the juiciest drinks there.
Cocktails start at around $11. Happy hour begins at 3:00 p.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. The ‘Pod has a surprisingly well-comprised beer list. There are 36 draft beers, bottles, and local brews. A few standouts include: Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, Rogue’s Morimoto Soba Ale, Chimay Tripel, Franziskaner Hefe Weissenbier, and of course some local offerings from Hawaii Nui, Maui Brewing Co., and Kona Brewing Co. Everyone can be merry with the ‘Pod’s drink lists.
Outdoor seating offers views of Lanai and Kaho’olawe, and also the view of the road leading into Wailea depending on which side of the restaurant you’re seated at. While cool breezy days are fine to choose the outdoor, you might want to go inside when the sun is high and completely in your face.
The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. everyday. Dinner and lunch reservations might be a good idea, as this place gets crowded. Walk-ins are welcome, but if arriving at peak drink and chow hours, expect a wait. Located at 10 Gateway Place, Unit B-201 Kihei, Hawaii 96753. Call 808-891-2322, or visit www.monkeypodkitchen.com.