Adult Beverages / Need some sharp ideas to get you half seas over and three sheets into the New Year? We did, so we asked Kyle Reutner, the managing bartender at Town restaurant in Kaimuki and co-owner and -founder (with business partner Maria Burke) of Imbibe Hawaii, to help out. The following recipes, nodding to the past and looking to the future, are sure to make your New Year’s Eve party all the more memorable–that is, at least, until you black out.
There’s an old drink, dating back to the days when Prohibition was lifted, that flew over the Gulf of Mexico from Cuba. Called the Airmail, it’s basically a variation of the daiquiri, Reutner’s favorite drink “outside of an old-fashioned. It’s so fresh,” he says. “It’s a wake-me-up cocktail. When done right, with the tartness of the lime, enough sugar to balance and with the right rum, [the daiquiri] can be so much more than the blended, crappy New Orleans sidewalk drink.” The Airmail is a twist on the classic, with honey.
1 ounce of light rum
1/2 ounce of lime
1/2 ounce of honey
Dry Champagne (no sweet stuff)
Shake the first three ingredients with ice to get them cold, and then strain into any glass. Top with dry Champagne. “The funkiness of the rum, the mouth feel from the honey and the bubbles of the Champagne make it an interesting cocktail,” Reutner says. “It works on all the levels, which is cool for something that old. [New Year’s Eve] is a time to refresh and renew things.”
The JP Collins: With whisky, not whiskey
“The Japanese are making the best whisky in the world right now,” says Reutner, tongue in cheek. “They don’t have rules,” he says, referring to their seeming lack of deference to the Kentucky bourbon and Scotch/Irish traditions. “They took the best of both worlds.” Japanese brands like Hakushu and Yamakazi have a smoother, sweeter beginning, while retaining the round finish of a Scotch.
As for that “e” or no “e” thing: It’s used in American brown liquor. But, “Because of how popular Scotch is in Japan,” says Reutner, “they tried to copy the Scotch nomenclature.” To taste some Japanese whisky straight up or in a cocktail, check out Lucky Belly for a good selection, or The Manifest.
How to drink it: The JP Collins
According to Reutner, “Justin Park at The Manifest is doing some of the best stuff around. He made me probably the best drink I’ve had in a year, since I was in New York.” The drink here is named after Park, who created it using a 12-year Hakushu Japanese whisky.
2 ounces of Hakushu whisky
1 ounce of lemon juice (Meyer lemons work best)
3/4 ounce of sugar water or simple syrup (1/4 ounce of water with 4 teaspoons of sugar)
Shake with ice, pour into a glass and top with an ounce of soda water.