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Hot new venue for Rarotonga

Monday October 10, 2016 Written by Published in Hot on the Rock
The new bar makes a spectacular sight at night. 16100726 The new bar makes a spectacular sight at night. 16100726

AFTER MONTHS of construction, renovation, and waiting on a liquor licence, the old Whatever! Bar has been transformed into a lively and bright bar and restaurant; On The Rocks.


Tuesday night’s opening was a huge success, with guests from all around the island turning up for a night out at an old favourite location.

“This place was my favourite bar when it was open before, and I’m really happy that it’s been done up and opened again. I really missed being up here,” one patron said.

Currently, On The Rocks is operating as a bar, but directors Giovanni Marsters, Inano Matapo, Barbara Lawson from Lawson’s Dry Hills Winery, and general manager Ashleigh Willis, have plans to operate a restaurant from the upstairs area once the kitchen is staffed.

“We’re still looking for kitchen and bar staff, and security, too”, she says.

“So we’re not there yet, but once we have our vacancies filled we’ll be opening up our restaurant Monday to Saturday from 11am.”

Happy hours at the upstairs and downstairs bars will be 3pm-6pm, with $4 beers, $4 spirits, and $4 wine.

On the long wait for the bar’s opening, Willis says: “We’d applied for a liquor licence months and months ago, but found out it had been approved just before the weekend!

“We had always aimed to open on a Tuesday because only one other bar is open on that night. So, it was a bit of a mission to get everything done in such a short time, especially with businesses being closed over the weekend. But in the end it all worked out.”

Guests at the opening were impressed at the way space has been used both upstairs and down. The upstairs area has been extended so that there’s more floor space, and a new roof and wind protectors keep the area sheltered from heavy wind and rain. Downstairs, now known as the “Jungle Bar,” has been renovated and will serve RTD’s, Woodstock, and basic beers and spirits.

Upstairs punters will be able to buy top-shelf liquors, high-end whisky, craft beers and cocktails.

She says their “Pink Bikinis” and “Blue Mojito” cocktails were best-sellers on opening night. Wine will also be served upstairs, featuring a large range from Lawson’s Dry Hills Winery.

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Willis says she has a background in the hospitality industry. Then, in 2009 she fell in love with a local, got married and had children, and has been here ever since. Husband Steven Willis, “grew up with the Marsters family, which is how we got involved in this.”  

On being given the job as general manager, she says, “It was a good opportunity to get involved with the island’s community”.

The bar and restaurant will feature live music from the early evenings, and fromTuesdays to Saturdays there will be a mix of DJ’s and live music from 9pm.

Being so close to work, and with happy hours coinciding with the end of my working day, this is definitely going to be my getaway at the end of the week!

            - Kimberly Samuels