By Anni Caporuscio

The Cucumber Lime Martini is a refreshing, cool gin drink with the tang of a real lime cordial and the freshness of real cucumber. The Mai Tai is layered with real juices, Koloa Rum and orgeat, a sophisticated touch you just don’t get anywhere.

The Cucumber Lime Martini is a refreshing, cool gin drink with the tang of a real lime cordial and the freshness of real cucumber. The Mai Tai is layered with real juices, Koloa Rum and orgeat, a sophisticated touch you just don’t get anywhere.

Dining at Sam’s Ocean View is an Eastside experience. There’s the jillion dollar view: A full wall open to a line of leaning palms on the far side of a green, manicured lawn, the clear blue ocean with waves gently breaking in a white line beyond the reef, the multi-use path with cheerful people exercising, the cool breeze from the tradewinds.

We watched the day turn to its nighttime colors while the almost-full moon rose and we sipped tropical cocktails and smiled. I often forget, immersed in the Eastside traffic, that Kapa‘a is actually a beach town — the ocean is right there.

The ambiance of Sam’s place accents the colorful beach lifestyle. It inflects an indulgent laziness on big pillows, while also inspiring recreation and smiling. There are nooks for lounging and big beach art everywhere, plus warm lighting for when the sun sets.

Sam's Ocean View owner Sam Reynolds

Sam’s Ocean View owner Sam Reynolds

Sam’s is the perfect place for a pau hana cocktail. Happy hour is 4-6 p.m., and they’ve got specials to celebrate it, including the Oo La La Grilled Cheese, with which I’ve fallen in love. It’s brie and gorgonzola on thick slices of sourdough, with fig jam and a honey drizzle. It’s served with crisp green apple slices to cleanse your palate between each bite. On a side note, I could see my weekly exercise group sweating out there by the pavilion while I curled this two-hander grilled cheese into my face and didn’t miss them one bit. Sorry, girls.

Their cocktail menu is legit. It’s helpfully broken into color-coded sections of Tropicals, Classics, Favorites and Dailies. The Kaua‘i Mai Tai is made with white and dark Koloa rum, fresh juices and housemade grenadine for balanced fruit and rum flavors, not the sticky pool bar stuff — the real deal. Their Old Fashioned is worthy of its name, and the Cucumber Lime Martini has been known to turn the non-martini drinker into a believer.

Owner Sam Reynolds says she loves glassware, so the cocktails are served in their appropriate glasses. So, I raised a tiki-glass to the runners and leaned back.