As the season turns to shorter days and longer nights, cocktails are trending in the areas of higher proof and bigger spice. At Town, in Kaimuki, barkeep Kyle Reutner says, “We are switching into a Fall-focused menu. So more Bourbon, rye and Cognac, spiced syrups and big ice.”
If there’s one thing that can make or break a drink–especially the darker spirits–it’s the ice. Use too much, and you’ve watered down the entire flavor profile of the drink. Don’t use enough, and it’s an improperly diluted glass of blah at a wimpy temperature.
Tim Rita, popular mixologist around town who now works at The Manifest and new hidden oceanfront jewel 53 By The Sea, says he misses the ease of ice machines. “At Lewer’s Lounge, we had a Kolddraft machine, which made the perfect ice cubes.”
You can find those Kolddraft-made, large and perfect cubes at Pint & Jigger, where, in addition to the craft brews for which they’re known, you can find one of their cocktails on tap. Affectionately known as “The Business,” it’s an earthy spirit-forward drink that takes mere seconds to pour. “The elements in this highly fortified rye cocktail give profound notes of oak from the womb to the tomb,” says Joey Gottesman, spirit specialist for Young’s Market Company and bartender at Pint & Jigger.
Speaking of craft beers, the beer cocktail sensation that swept across the states this summer has found its way to the Islands. If you want to get technical, Dave Newman actually started it here last October, when he created the “Buona Vita” cocktail for HIFF, calling for a Peroni topper. It added a refreshing twist to the amaretto and rum drink accentuated with yuzu.
Yukie Azawa at The Modern agrees that beer cocktails are in trend now but also points to Moonshine, a white whiskey usually in the 100-proof range that has been popping up in mason jars at places like Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquor.
“Mezcal is also new and hip,” she told me. “I personally think this will be the next Scotch.” I cringed at the thought. Mezcal is a potent medicine-tasting agave spirit that tastes like the bartender juiced a burning log. At least people are moving away from Fernet. I consider it an inside joke people with the strongest palates like to descend upon us commoners in the form of shots (I’m looking at you, Chef Mark Noguchi). It’s a terribly numbing taste and does nothing but make the bartenders laugh. Hey, I guess drinking should be fun for everybody involved, right?