Saturday, November 26, 2011

We Found These Amazing Cocktails on Maui and Bring You the Recipes


The Na Ka Oi Cocktail and the Rain Tree Elixir will wow you with their tropical flavors.

Finding a restaurant on Maui with both creative food and a decent cocktail program can be challenging, but we found such a place in Wailea called Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, or simply Monkeypod. We dined al fresco, which in Hawaii is practically de rigueur, and were waited on by the expert server Nicole, who made our experience there one of the best we’ve ever had while visiting the fiftieth state.

Steve started out the evening with a Ho‘opono Potion, a bewitching brew of tequila and lime juice mixed with a little Aperol (a bittersweet neon orange aperitif made with bitter oranges and rhubarb, among other botanicals). It paired beautifully with his Hawaiian version of a traditional beet salad (sweet Maui onion, arugula, crispy bacon, chevre, orange ginger dressing), the citrus bringing out all the potent flavors in the tequila, the cucumber taming the light heat.

Paul craved an American whiskey drink, so the Makawao Ave. cocktail, a sort of whiskey sour/old-fashioned hybrid, but with ginger liqueur, fit the bill nicely. It was a perfect partner with the slight bitterness of a simply dressed kale and citrus salad.

We asked for the recipe for the No‘opono Potion, which the lovely Nicole happily wrote down, and while we ate our Pumpkin Patch Ravioli and Fish Tacos, the man who created the drinks, Jason Vendrell, introduced himself. Jason, Monkeypod’s sommelier and beverage manager, explained to us that the owner requested an excellent cocktail program, and the drinks we had before us were the fruits of his labor. He later surprised us with two tiki-inspired cocktails: The fruitjuicy Rain Tree Elixir, made with an açai spirit, coconut water, and kaffir lime leaves, put an instant smile on Steve’s sun-kissed face; the silky smooth No Ka Oi (which means The Best) won Paul’s heart with its explosion of passion fruit and thai basil flavors. Jason told us that he would not be insulted if we didn’t finish the drinks, but who was he kidding? We kept sipping and passing them back and forth, and the only reason we stopped was our rental car’s need for sobriety.

The next night, as we searched for other places to get a cocktail, we decided to return to Monkeypod to try Jason’s famous Monkeypod Mai Tai. A beauty to behold, this rum classic is topped with a lip-smacking honey–lilikoi (passion fruit) foam enhaloed by a ring of golden pineapple. As the bartender prepared the whipped cream gun, fellow imbibers who sat at the bar all watched in admiration as the froth filled the top of the glass. Mahalo Jason for your recipes.

You can re-create these recipes at home. Don’t let the tropical ingredients daunt you. In this day and age, most towns have an Asian or Latin market with fresh or frozen produce, and if that’s not the case, an order from an Internet store can be delivered to you sometimes quicker than it takes to get from Brooklyn to Maui.

Ho‘opono Potion
(created by Jason Vendrell, Monkeypod, Maui)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces Sauza tequila
1/2 ounce Aperol
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
fresh cucumber
lemon wedge, as garnish

Method
In a shaker, muddle a slice of cucumber. Fill with ice and add tequila, Aperol, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake and strain into an chilled cocktail glass. Add lemon wedge.

Rain Tree Elixir
(created by Jason Vendrell, Monkeypod, Maui)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces VeeV Açai Spirit
1 1/2 ounces coconut water
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3 kaffir lime leaves

Method
Muddle kaffir with lime and simple. Add coconut water and VeeV with ice, shake and pour into highball.

Makawao Ave.
(created by Jason Vendrell, Monkeypod, Maui)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces Makers Mark bourbon
1/2 ounce housemade ginger syrup
2 squeezed lemon wedges
3 dashes Angostura bitters
soda
lemon twist, as garnish

Method
Add bitters, syrup, lemon and bourbon to mixing glass with ice. Shake and pour into a highball glass. Top with soda. Add twist.

No Ka Oi
(created by Jason Vendrell, Monkeypod, Maui)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces Ocean Vodka
1 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce honey-lilikoi foam*
5 muddled thai basil leaves
thai basil leaf, as garnish

Method
Muddle thai basil with lime juice. Add all other ingredients with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with thai basil leaf.



Monkeypod Mai Tai
(created by Jason Vendrell, Monkeypod, Maui)

Ingredients
1 ounce Old Lahaina Light Rum
1 ounce Maui Dark Rum
1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce Dekuyper Orange Curaçao
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
honey–lilikoi foam*
pineapple wheel, as garnish

Method
Add lime, orgeat, orange curaçao and light rum to a mixing glass with ice. Shake and strain over ice into a highball glass. Float dark rum on top. Place pineapple wheel against the side of the glass so it sticks out. Top with foam from whipped cream gun. [SEE PHOTO ABOVE.]

*Honey–Lilikoi Foam
(created by Jason Vendrell, Monkeypod, Maui)
2 parts liliko‘i (passion fruit) puree
2 parts simple syrup
2 parts egg whites
1 part honey
4 parts cold water

photos (taken on an iPhone 4) © Steve Schul

6 comments:

  1. Nice post and perfect timing as I'm headed to Maui early next year - as a cocktail enthusiast myself, any other places you came across or heard of worth trying?

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  2. Monkey pod Mai tai. Best on Maui. Possibly universe

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  3. Thanks for your kind words. When we visited Maui in 2010, we came across other great places to drink and dine, and included those on our Cocktail Buzz Web site at http://cocktailbuzz.com/Cocktail_Buzz/Cocktail_Buzz_on_Maui_%7B_The_Valley_Isle_%7D.html Hali'imaile General Store and Merriman's Kapalua are wonderful. Also, Sansei in Kihei is delicious. Okole Maluna! (Bottoms up!)

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  4. In general I don't like mixed drinks, but this was absolutely the best drink I have ever had and I'm a baby boomer! It was fabulous! Just got back from Maui and the Monkeypod restaurant -- went online to get the recipe!! Thanks for sharing it!! While I was there I saw someone taking a picture of the drink with the ocean in the background -- it's that good!! Would love to recreate it!

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  5. It's been almost 48 hours since I last had a Monkeypod Mai Tai. Very sad. This is the most exceptional Cocktail List on Maui!

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    1. Every time we visit Maui, our first stop is Monkeypod for the Mai Tais. Love em.

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