Yesterday when I should’ve been cleaning and preparing for guests, I enjoyed a tour of the historic red light district in Honolulu. We are super excited to see Uncle Mike, Aunt Sharon and Nana but they may be coming to a dirty boxed up house since I got to play with my friends yesterday.
I will have a whole post about the tour, I promise but I wanted to mention one highlight…The oldest bar in Hawaii.
According to our guide, naval ships were assigned bars. Between the men shipped in for plantations and sailors there were an extra 50,000 men on the island. It was important to keep a little order somewhere. We saw picture after picture of men lining Chinatown in Cracker Jack uniforms. They would line up at the bar. Rules were you could serve only 4 shots to one person at a time. So each man would pay his money and take four shots of Five Islands Gin. Then they would go to the back of a very long line…if they could walk.
There is no real paper trail of anything called Five Islands Gin. The rumor among the locals was that it was just moonshine that was made on the back side of Diamond Head to avoid import taxes. Can you imagine 4 shots of pure grain alcohol? I remember a bad night in college and an even worse morning that included fewer shots of tequila.
(My children, listen to me. I can’t think of anything good that comes from shots…ever. Don’t do it. Learn from your mother’s mistake. It’s a life lesson you really don’t want to have.)
Oh yes, back to my story. Smith’s Union Bar was the assigned bar of the USS Arizona. Because it’s on the national historic registry it is the only bar on the island that opens at 10:00am. I was there at a few minutes after 10. More than one patron was enjoying a Longboard. I plan to go back at a more reasonable hour and toast the crew of The Arizona but it won’t be done with Five Islands Gin.