Tiki Drinks: The Haleukelani Cocktail and The East...

Tiki Drinks: The Haleukelani Cocktail and The Eastern Sour

board-of-tiki-idolsAmong the requests I made of the Board of Tiki Idols was for Tiki drinks to try that were good and interesting. Tiare was most prolific is sending me links with drinks I could rip off, er, riff on. Among the posts she sent was this one: Tiki Drinks With a Twist. It offers a number of classic Tiki recipes that she modified in one way or another to take into account her own inventory situation. I picked out two drinks that interested me, and set to work.
I chose these two because they are bourbon-based. When I saw this, I was a bit puzzled. Tiki drinks based on liquor from back in the the Hollah? About the only spirit I could think of that made me think less of Tiki was liquor from the highlands of Scotland.

You know Kentucky was settled….

Yes, I know Kentucky was settled in large part by Scots, and yes, I know the geography, economy, culture, etc. of both the Highlands and Appalachia are remarkably similar. And no, I don’t intend to go into it further right now. That’s another post, for another day, in (most to the point) another month. For right now, let’s just say whisk(e)y in general is not what I think of when I think of Tiki.

Of course not.
Tiki is about Rum, Rhum, and Rum!

You know, I can lock you in again….
The point is, I was intrigued. And since Tiara is among my muses, I followed.
Let us start with the Halekulani Cocktail, pronounced (I think) hall-AY-koo-lon-ee, from a bar with thr awesome name of the House Without a Key Lounge.


  • 1.5 oz. Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • .5 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz. orange juice
  • splash grenadine
  • splash homemade maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 dash Angustora bitters

Shake over ice and strain into a cognac glass filled with fresh ice.

First off, I made a further change to Tiara’s changes. I had no passionfruit liqueur, so I substituted maraschino cherry juice. Also, she calls for a half a teaspoon. Doug can’t measure that small….
The resulting cocktail is pretty good. The overall character is a bit sour, but pleasantly so. The Angustora is detectable but more in the form of a slight edge, rather than bitterness. The Maker’s is a good bourbon here. I don’t see a cheaper bourbon as being very friendly, and a much fancier product would confuse the issue, rather than enhance it. And bourbon this whiskey must be. The unique caramel sweetness you seem to only get from Kentucky is needed to give this drink its nice balance.
I will say that overall it is a bit two-dimensional, particularly for a Tiki drink. The luxurious, meandering garden of flavors is more focused here. Still, it is gorgeous and tasty. Serve it on the rocks in a highball with a single cherry and no one need know you are offering them up to the Tiki gods!
Tiare’s other bourbon offering is the Eastern Whiskey Sour. It was invented by Trader Vic to honor the opening of his restaurant location in that natural Tiki Mecca, Toronto.
Here Tiara made four major changes to the Trader’s recipe, one of ingredient, several of degree. I found hers to be an improvement, but I’ll put Vic’s here. Go read her post for the improved version.


  • .5 oz. orange juice
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • dash of orgeat
  • dash of simple syrup

Shake with ice and pour without straining into glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a fruit stick.

Tiare uses lime juice, and a lower concentration of bourbon.
This drink is actually tastier to me than the Halekulani, but is even less Tiki-like.

It’s a Whiskey Sour….

True. The point to examine here is that the flavors meld so well together that they lose much individuality, especially in Tiare’s version. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just not too Tiki to me. The Eastern Sour has wonderful first flavor, and a wonderful last. They just happen to be the same, so it hardly a challenging drink. Sling one together for your more novice guests, who won’t feel gypped by being denied the chance to spend five minutes describing their cocktail.
Oh, and the Eastern Sour could probably benefit a bit more than the Halekulani from a higher-end bourbon than Maker’s, if you like. I haven’t tried one, but if you do, let me know if it’s an improvement.


  1. Hannah

    18 February

    mmmm… the HALEKULANI COCKTAIL looks delicious! Maker’s is my FAVORITE, although I don’t often see tiki-esque drinks without rum! Have you tried the Fog Cutter yet? It’s Trader Vic’s own:

    Tasty treat, for sure!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. Tiare

    18 February

    What a lovely photo of the Halekulani! now i`m thirsty.


      (Quote)  (Reply)

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