Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Kapu Kai

If you are like us, you horde your Lemon Hart 151 like it’s the last bottle on earth. Or maybe you stockpiled a few during the ups and downs of availability over the years, never knowing if the world supply might fail just when an important recipe calls. Fortunately, Hamilton’s Demerara can save the day, but the trauma and scarcity of the past still has us pouring our Lemon Hart carefully—and rarely—like a secret we are trying to keep to ourselves.

And yet, the only thing worse than not having any 151-proof Demerara rum is having some and then refusing to drink it! To be fair, every night cannot be a Zombie night (well, not without considerable repeated effort), and we sometimes don’t have the energy to pull together eight items to make a Cobra’s Fang. So, what’s the easiest drink that calls for this stuff? The Queen’s Park Swizzle comes pretty close, but the Kapu Kai is even easier!

Kapu Kai
2 oz 151-proof Demerara rum (Lemon Hart or Hamilton’s)
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup

Shake with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Forget crushed ice. Forget mint sprigs and bitters. Actually, forget about garnish altogether. Squeeze a lime (or better yet, use your stash of super juice) and shake up the most potent and flavorful Daiquiri you have ever tried. It’s true—this is just a Daiquiri with extra special rum—but that’s just confirming the fact that the Daiquiri is a killer classic. Here, we just have, well, more.

“More” comes in the form of higher-proof, so manage your evening carefully or reduce to a 1.5:.75:.75 ratio. But Demerara rum also has more flavor than most rums. Some say it brings smoke, salt brine, or tastes like gunpowder or even burnt rubber (in a good way). Whatever descriptives come to mind, there’s no denying that the unique flavors of this rum from Guyana make it the secret weapon of tropical mixology, and the Kapu Kai is a great way to enjoy it.

This cocktail appears to be a 1994 Jeff Berry creation, but the name comes from the California restaurant that was razed that year having been previously damaged by storms and flooding in 1969 putting an end to Polynesian dining, dancing and bowling in Rancho Cucamonga. Translated as “forbidden sea”, it may be appropriate for the location’s demise but Kapu Kai can also refer to ritual cleansing which seems more aligned to our goals here. If you have Lemon Hart or Hamilton’s, by all means, leave the complicated ingredient list behind and make this part of your purification ritual!

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clay smith
clay smith
5 months ago

definitely want to give this a try. I may not have read thoroughly enough but why is it orange?

clay smith
clay smith
Reply to  Randy Hanson
5 months ago

thanks! I’ve got lemon hart and plantation 151, so I’m going to have to give that a try.