Archive for the ‘Falernum’ Category

Aloha to Okolehao Liqueur and a Taste of Hawaii

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Torrential rain, snow and hail on the first day home from a Hawaiian vacation – that’s the worst way to re-enter reality, especially in April. Fortunately I have new booze to keep me cozy as my “tan” fades.

Ever heard of ‘okolehao?  Traditionally it was a form of Hawaiian moonshine (also called oke by Native Hawaiians) made from the ti root. After falling out of favor for a few decades, a Maui rum distiller has resurrected ‘okolehao as a liqueur, and I happened to run across it at a Big Island grocery store (this isn’t quite as random as it sounds, given that I’m frequently found scouring a liquor aisle).

Having now sampled it, I think the ‘Okolehao liqueur most resembles a spiced rum, though none specifically. It has that caramel-ly rum vibe, along with a bit of coconut and taste of Kahlua liqueur.  Most information online references Haleakala Distillery’s re-creation of ‘okolehao, but includes very few recipes. So I tried a Bali Hai for my first ‘Okolehao Liqueur cocktail and then dabbled a bit to create my own. Both make me glad I got this souvenir for my liquor cabinet.

Bali Hai (changed a bit from the original)

1 oz ‘Okolehao Liqueur
1 oz light rum
½ oz gin
2 oz lemon juice
2 oz lime juice
½ oz orgeat*
¾ oz simple syrup
Top with champagne

Combine all ingredients except champagne in a shaker with ice. Shake well and pour into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with champagne. Note: I felt this drink was way too sour and so added the simple syrup. Reducing the amount of lemon and lime juices at the start would be preferable.

Oke would probably make a fine substitute in most recipes calling for spiced rum. If you pick up a bottle on your next trip to the islands, I suggest keeping it sealed until you return home. The bottle top is the cork-plug type and would probably leak in your checked luggage (and they won’t allow you to carry it on). If you score a bottle, give my new recipe a try:

Oke? Okay!

1 ½ oz ‘Okolehao Liqueur
¾ oz lime juice
¾ oz honey syrup (equal parts honey and water shaken until mixed)
Club soda
Scant dash of falernum (optional)

 Shake all of the above with ice, and strain while pouring into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice.

Home may lack 80 degree weather and island breezes, but at least I can create a bit of vacation in a glass. Maybe I can make myself a lei when the Northwest rhodies bloom. Aloha!

Cheers, ICE 

As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol and mixer definitions and details.

Aloha, Pina Colada. Our time together was far too brief...

*orgeat is a syrup made from almonds that is commonly used in tropical drinks. Commercial versions are available.


Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Monday, October 18th, 2010
Halloween Drink #1 of 2…

Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, hence the name for this drink. This one is my own creation, using my newest find: black vodka!

I may be all very “2000 and late,” as Fergie would sing, but Blavod black vodka was a revelation to me. I didn’t know such a thing existed. Perfect for Halloween, it added enough darkness to this drink to get it close to that blood red quality I was looking for. By the way, I created the Bloody Sunday for a friend’s party, so the store-bought sparkling pomegranate juice made for easy mixin’.

Bloody Sunday punch — serves 16

16 oz Blavod black vodka
8 oz limon rum
8 oz Velvet Falernum
25 oz Trader Joe’s Sparkling Pomegranate beverage
2 oz 1 ½ oz absinthe

Stirring gently, mix all ingredients together in a pitcher or punch bowl. Serve with crushed ice.  Note this recipe change: When scaling this recipe I used 2 oz of absinthe, but after playing with it a bit, I recommend starting with only 1 ½ oz, stir, taste and add more if desired.

The Bloody Sunday, along with Blavod in its spiffy wet suit…in case you want to go diving with your vodka? You can see the black hue of the vodka in the shot glass.

Blavod (aside: What a lame name. Oh, and it comes in its own wet suit. Huh?) is vodka tinted by the bark of black catechu, which is used for a variety of medicinal and commercial purposes, including as dye.  The black catechu doesn’t add much flavor, so it can work in any vodka drink.

As a responsible blogger, I tested the Blavod and can assure you that, a) it will not discolor your teeth while drinking, like black food coloring certainly would, and b) if a sloppy guest spills some on your cream carpet or sexy nurse’s costume, the vodka won’t leave a stain. Whew. 

Cheers, ICE


I Likey the Lychee

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Do you know what a lychee is? I sure didn’t. It shows up in cocktail recipes here and there, often listed as “canned lychee,” but my grocery stores had no such thing in the canned fruit/vegetable aisle. I had written those drinks off as too obscure for my feeble cocktailing efforts when I found a container of lychees in the refrigerated fruit section at Trader Joe’s. Well, hello! Not one to resist a new drink ingredient, of course I needed to try them out.

Which presented another problem: How does one prepare or eat a lychee? They have thin but crispy shells that do not appear appetizing.  Once peeled, the fruit looks like an eyeball (and here I made a tactical error by showing my kids this, thereby guaranteeing that no way in hell would they taste it); a juicy, lightly fragrant eyeball, but still. And hidden in the center is a hard nut that looks like a black bean.

Lychee Rum Swizzle

Eventually I decided to just muddle the fruit part and strain out the juice, a pretty easy task. I stirred up this recipe for the Lychee Rum Swizzle, and it made me a lychee lover.

Lychee Rum Swizzle

1 1/2 oz rum
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz lychee fruit juice (about 3 lychees)
3/4 oz lime juice
1/4 oz simple syrup (my addition)
2 dashes Peyschauds bitters

Peel lychee fruit, then tear juicy fruit away from inner nut. Muddle fruit (about 3 lychees) to yield 1/2 oz juice. Add all ingredients to a highball filled with crushed ice, then swizzle with a bar spoon until glass is frosty. Note: I changed the original recipe slightly because I had only fresh lychee fruit and not canned with syrup, so I added the simple syrup to balance the lime juice.

Swizzle drinks hail from Caribbean islands, where bartenders rub the handle of a bar spoon in between their hands – much like a scout starting a fire with sticks – in order to rapidly mix and chill the glass. Velvet Falernum, also hailing from the Caribbean, is a sweet liqueur tasting of cloves and spices. It is also great mixed with club soda and lime for a quick refresher, and non-alcoholic versions of falernum are available.

After doing a little lychee research, I’ve learned they are from China and therefore more common in Asian cooking.  Fresh lychees are not typical around here, so in the future I might have better luck finding canned lychee in the Asian section of the store. If you find some, try out this drink. It is well worth muddling a few eyeballs.

Cheers, ICE


Four strikes, this drink is out

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

The Loser lives up to its name

Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But the drink that sounded so amazing – black pepper syrup, yowza! – just hasn’t panned out.  Four times I’ve tried:

Attempt No. 1: The recipe said to crack the peppercorns coarsely, but it made for a very weak syrup and boring drink.

Attempt No. 2:  Armed with a mallet, plastic bag and my alarmingly aggressive children, we pounded the hell out of those peppercorns. This time the syrup was flavorful but still not a winner. Maybe the problem was substituting tequila for the pisco (a grape-based brandy from South America)?

Attempt No. 3: Our friends Stacy and Laura generously donated a bottle of pisco to the cause. Stacy picked up a couple of bottles in Chile when his engineering firm went down to survey the recent earthquake damage. It is lovely having friends that support your, uh, endeavors.

However, even with the pisco this drink doesn’t cut it for me. It could be the pineapple juice; while I love fresh pineapple, I just don’t care for it in cocktails (pina coladas in Maui being the exception).  On this third try I did reduce the pineapple juice from 3 ounces to just a ½ ounce, but the pineapple was still pushy.

Attempt No. 4: I am stubbornly pursuing this drink. This last time I eliminated the pineapple juice altogether and upped the lemon juice and black pepper syrup by ½ ounce each. Still, it’s just OK. Maybe using grapefruit juice instead of pineapple would be a worthy substitute?

I guess you win some, lose some, even with cocktails.  But not all is lost – I will use the pisco to try shaking up a Pisco Sour — the drink in Peru and Chile — and I just saw some recipes in the new Imbibe magazine calling for black pepper syrup.  Oh, darn, more experimenting.

The Loser

1 oz pisco
½ oz Velvet Falernum (clove-spiced liqueur)
3 oz pineapple juice
1 oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz black pepper syrup
1 oz chilled club soda
Pinch of freshly ground pepper, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the soda and ground pepper; shake well.  Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Stir in the soda; garnish with pepper.

Black Pepper Syrup – makes about 8 oz

1 c. water
½ c. sugar
¼ cup cracked black peppercorns

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add sugar and stir over moderately high heat until dissolved. Add peppercorns and let stand off the heat for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup into a jar, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Cheers, ICE