When one thinks of Hawaii, tropical fruit-forward rum drinks usually come to mind and there’s been plenty of that this week. Even though tiki bar culture really was born on the West Coast of the mainland, there’s no denying the role this tropical paradise played in its development.
But I want to talk about some of Maui’s other liquid offerings. For starters there’s the brewery that bears the island’s name. I’d had a number of Maui Brewing Company’s beers before, most notably its coconut porter. But I was actually pretty surprised at the number of taps in Maui’s tasting room. All told, including flagships, limited releases, one-offs and seasonals, there were about thirty selections available , a greater number than I’ve seen at most breweries. Some of the standouts were Doppelshot Doublebock, a doppelbock brewed with local coffee, and hot blonde, a comapeño-pepper-infused version of Maui’s popular Bikini Blonde.
And it’s not just craft beer that’s sweeping the island. Craft distilling also has a bit of a presence on Maui. Hawaii Sea Spirits, an organic farm and distillery, is the best known of the operations there.
The spirits maker grows its own organic sugar cane, which it uses as the base for its flagship brand, Ocean Vodka. And even if you’re not a vodka fan, you have to admire its spherical bottle design. The package itself would make a great gift.
Sugar cane is an uncommon choice for a vodka base, but this is Hawaii after all. It’s of course, the raw material for rum and Hawaii Sea Spirts has one of those as well. Last year it launched Deep Island Hawaiian Rum, aka WAVE. The clear rum blends the same organic sugar cane with deep ocean mineral water. It’s a terrific base for those tiki drinks.
Tiki drinks and coffee beers figure prominently in my new book, The Year of Drinking Adventurously from Turner Publishing. It’s dropping in less than a month. Pre-order it today and stay tuned for details on my book tour.