When designing a bar, I always return to the question: What makes a place magical, a place to have a night to never forget? A great example of an enchanting space is Harry’s Hardware Emporium, one of Honolulu’s few hidden speakeasy’s to those “in the know”. This bar is designed and owned by Dave Newman, also owner of the adjacent Pint and Jigger and former United States Bartending Guild President. The concept was conceived over twenty years ago, but only recently has been unveiled.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole
world around you because the greatest secrets are always
hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't
believe in magic will never find it.” -- Roald Dahl.
That quote popped into my head when as I walked down the dull hall, stepped into the dark, sultry lighting and took my first look around Harry's Hardware Emporium. This space makes you feel as though you stepped back into time and to another place as luxurious wallpapers in deep sea colors line its walls and a metal tin tiled roof reflects the few deep lights. There are no clues to the outside world here, no windows or televisions.
An extra wide bar top gives the impression of grandeur and stability highlights the large perfectly clear chunk of ice on a special cooling tray built in to the back bar. Bartenders wear tailored vests and are well versed in the pursuit of the perfect cocktail. The space is intimate but each seating area has enough privacy (there is 30 inches per guest instead of the industry standard 24 inches) and is very comfortable, almost decadent. One might never want to leave after you sit down with a crafted libation in your hand.
Other design highlights that pull the space together include a custom built bench surrounding a vintage poker table under the glowing crystal chandelier and accented by a column completely covered in Italian vermouth tins. This complements the handpicked, delicate, vintage glassware.
When creating this space, Mr. Newman and co-owner Hideo Simon (co-owner) found value in doing most of the work themselves. Mr Simon built the bookshelf and the barrel rack out of lumber. Mr Newman constructed the shelving behind the bar, the bench surrounding the poker table, and the bartop, which he made of light and dark stained wood and finished in acrylic to match the rest of the bar’s recurring theme of contrasting light and dark wood.
One of the best bar specific design details is the custom made bar rail with built-in vermouth chilling rack made by Bill from Heavy Metal Inc (firstname.lastname@example.org instagram: @heavymetalhawaii).
Each segment is small enough to fit in a dishwasher and is easy to clean nightly while keeping your vermouth chilled at the perfect temperature. The chilling rails were also constructed at a pitch
and attached to a drain making clean up at the end of the night easy and efficient.
Harry’s Hardware Emporium is both a bartenders heaven and a guest’s sophisticated escape from the ordinary. If you have the chance don’t miss an opportunity to find magic right behind the secret door...