San Francisco, Bambuddha Lounge, Phoenix Hotel: Metro-tropical
As the bar/restaurant for the retro Phoenix, the Bambuddha brings edgy bliss to the sketchy Tenderloin neighborhood. Sit inside at the polished bar or out by the pool (powerful heaters make it comfy); imbibe tropical drinks and snack on Asian-influenced selections from the restaurant menu: The bar food here scores high. Most intense are those Friday and Saturday nights devoted to special events, like "an evening of international house and mash-up with DJs Peeko from Paris and Playdough Boy from Ukraine" (cover charge from $5 after 10:30).
The crowd: Depending on the night (the bar is closed Sun-Mon), business travelers, tourists, South of Market artists, cyber-geniuses, and models.
The drink: Grab a Guavarita. 1½ ounces Corzo Silver Tequila, ½ ounce Cointreau, ½ ounce fresh lime juice, topped with guava juice. Serve with sugared rim.
Sound track: Dance eclectic, from hip-hop to soul.
Where: 601 Eddy St.; www.bambuddhalounge.com or 415/885-5088.
Honolulu, Mai Tai Bar, The Royal Hawaiian Hotel: Palm latitudes
When the grandly pink Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927, it immediately became the Waikiki retreat of choice for well-heeled travelers who sailed first-class on a Matson Line steamship. These days, everybody comes to Hawaii via economy class on some 757. But the Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai Bar retains an aura of cosseted affluence, not to mention a killer view of Diamond Head. Here, in rum-sweetened paradise, the ukuleles strum, the tropical breezes blow, and the mai tais and other Polynesian concoctions are perfect ― after all, some of the bartenders have been making them for 30-plus years.
The crowd: A mix ― young, old, military ― but the tone is set by the retired CEO in his blue blazer and his tanned wife in Lilly Pulitzer.
The drink: You could order the Royal Hawaiian's own microbrew, Hawaiian Sunset Pink Beer. But you're at the Mai Tai Bar. What do you think you should get? 1 ounce dark rum, 1 ounce light rum, 1 ounce curaççao, 2 ounces orange juice, ½ ounce lime juice, dash orgeat, dash simple syrup.
Sound track: Every afternoon and evening, live Hawaiian music ― singers, ukulele players ― and what could be better?
Where: 2259 Kalakaua Ave.; www.royal-hawaiian.com or 808/923-7311.