Mixologist Tim Rita of 53 By the Sea - Biography

Honolulu, HI

July 2012

Tim Rita comes from the backcountry of Hawaii, a sleepy area on the west side of Oahu, but he’s risen to be one of the islands’ premier mixologists. He's currently doing double cocktail duty, as bartender at Chinatown's Manifest and Bar Manager at 53 By the Sea, a Kaka'ako fine dining restaurant serving italian and regional Hawaiian cuisine. And as former beverage manager for the Modern Honolulu hotel, he ran The Study bar, a hidden gem tucked behind a few bookcases at the rear of the hotel’s lobby. But Rita broke his mixology teeth at the House Without a Key and the famed Lewers Lounge in Hawaii’s posh Waikiki neighborhood, where he refined his cocktail style: Hawaiian ingredients, Asian sensibility, with a classic foundation. “Nobody wanted the night shift,” at those bars, Rita says. “A lot of the seasoned guys wanted to get off early. I was green and wanted to learn, so I took the job.”

Rita is also a founder of the Hawaiian chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, and has received his level one sommelier certificate. While he’s certainly not shy of modern mixology methods (he says he’s always willing to get “nerdy” with his cocktails, provided that’s what his audience wants), Rita is more about classicism done right. His Stormy Fizz is a merging of the Ramos Gin Fizz and a Dark and Stormy, a wonderful combination of the two. Rita is a firm believer that there’s a place for excellent craft cocktails in a club setting, but as manager of The Lobby—which develops a clubby setting on the weekends—he realizes that a quick pick-up for drinks is essential for the typical Hawaiian drinker.