Even if you can’t make it to Hawaii this season, you can still bring a bit of the tropics into your life (and into your belly) with these recipes for tropical cocktails, all picked up on the island of Maui.
Most tropical cocktails are made with rum, a spirit long associated with island life, pirates and frou-frou umbrella drinks. Use top-shelf liquors to lessen your hangover, and buy organic when you can – our favorite is Papagayo Organic Fairtrade White Rum from Maison Jomère. And please – save the artificially flavored liquors for the tourists and the frat boys.
For best results, use fresh, organic fruits and juices whenever possible – never canned. No self-respecting mixologist would ever use a pre-made drink mix from the store or opt for lime juice that comes in a plastic lime. Also, watch your ice – using cubes frozen from the tap may add ingredients you don’t want to your cocktail. None of these recipes call for chlorine or fluoride. Freeze filtered water for your ice instead.
The Mai Tai is ubiquitous on the islands of Hawaii and is emblematic of Tiki culture. It should have the perfect mix of pizzazz from the juice and the alcohol – never too syrupy, too weak or too strong. This recipe is from Trader Vic’s – the official Hawaiian expert on the Mai Tai. Into a shaker, squeeze ¾ ounce fresh lime juice, ¼ ounce rock candy syrup (a super-sweet simple sugar syrup), ¼ orgeat syrup (an almond-barley blend), ½ ounce orange Curaçao liqueur and 2 ounces of premium-aged rum like Appleton or Mount Gay. Add crushed ice, shake the heck out of it, then pour everything into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with your squeezed half-lime and a sprig of mint. Feel free to substitute natural sweeteners for the rock candy syrup – just watch out for those Mai Tai purists!
This drink may sound like something a sailor would pick up on shore leave, but it’s a bar favorite around the island of Maui. Combine in a shaker 1 ounce white rum, ½ ounce bourbon whisky (vodka may be substituted), ½ ounce orange Curaçao and 3-4 ounces of Lilikoi aka Passionfruit juice. Can’t find Passionfruit juice? Then you can’t make a Tropical Itch. Shake everything well, pour over ice cubes in a hurricane glass, then garnish with a slice of pineapple, a cherry and a bamboo backscratcher.
Ever since Elvis crooned his way around the islands, this bright blue cocktail has been a favorite on Hawaii for its unique color and powerful dosage. Combine in a shaker ¾ ounce white rum, ¾ ounce vodka, ½ ounce blue Curaçao, 3 ounces fresh pineapple juice and the juice from ½ a lime. Shake well, then pour into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with fresh pineapple and a single fuchsia orchid, of possible. Three of these will have your hips moving just like the King’s.
A colorful twist on the popular Piña Colada, the Lava Flow adds some Hawaiian flair to the island favorite. Note: while it contains two fruits, the Piña Colada is not a health drink and never will be. Pour 1 ½ ounces of white rum, 6 ounces of fresh pineapple juice and 3 ounces of delicious coconut cream in a blender full of ice. Blend for the amount of time it takes you to sing one line of The Piña Colada Song, and pour the white concoction into a highball glass. Now for the lava: After rinsing your blender out, add 2 ounces of frozen strawberries and puree. Now drip this red “lava” on top of the cocktail, where it will sink to the bottom and create the illusion of a lava flow. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a strawberry.