Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Hawaiian Sunset

In our last post, we remarked on the fact that there aren’t very many Tiki cocktails that feature vodka as the base spirit. The Blue Hawaii is a popular exception, but that one also has light rum. Here’s a vodka-only cocktail that stays within the Tiki genre and lets the other ingredients shine. Somewhat coincidentally, it also has Hawaii in the name, but this time, rather than including any pineapple juice, we imagine the name is simply a poetic reference to its light pink hue. The recipe was published in Jeff Berry’s Sippin’ Safari, which makes it as authentic as any Tiki classic. According to Jeff, it comes from the Aku Aku restaurant in the Startdust Hotel, Las Vegas and was served there in the 1960s. It’s definitely easy to make if you have the syrups.

We used SKYY vodka again to make our Sunset to provide the spiritous backdrop in support of the other ingredients. In this case, lemon and lime are balanced by two syrups, orgeat and grenadine. These are easy to make at home and can be far more delicious than any commercial versions, but these days you can also find decent bottled products at better liquor stores.

Hawaiian Sunset
1.5 oz vodka
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz orgeat syrup
1 tsp grenadine

Shake with ice until very cold, then strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or small, suitable glass and serve.

While many Tiki drinks end up in tall, decorated stoneware filled with ice pebbles, or feature elaborate garnishes, this one is simple. It’s served up, preferably in a chilled cocktail glass to keep your hot hands on the stem and away from the bowl. We selected this petite, footed goblet which was perfect. Because it has no ice, it will not dilute over time, so a footed, thin-walled glass is ideal to preserve the chill. But if we are honest, it’s not going to last long! This drink is so tasty we could easily—and dangerously—down several of these in a short sitting. The fresh citrus plays so nicely with the almond orgeat, and the grenadine adds just a hint of depth. Both syrups typically contain orange blossom, so this lemon-lime sipper has incredible aromatics.

Shaken hard, the aeration may produce a light, foamy surface as it settles, depending on your orgeat. Double-straining through fine mesh will help remove any big ice shards for the best presentation. We recommend shaking with lots of ice until frost appears on the shaker tin to get this extra cold.

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