Cocktail #52: Honi Honi

And here we are! My last drink in my 52-drink, year+ long project to learn about, make, and drink 52 tiki cocktails. My original aim was to shoot for one drink per week but things didn't always work out that way, so instead of 12 months, this took about 15 months.

In the course of this project, I've learned a ton about the history of tiki drinks, ingredients, rums, and other liqueurs. I made my own maraschino cherries, allspice dram, falernum, passion fruit syrup, and many other types of simple syrup. I experimented with ice cones and shells, lit drinks on fire, served drinks in pineapples and coconuts, enjoyed several blue drinks, tried to make more than a few classic tiki cocktails, made one coffee-based drink, and even made a few non-alcoholic drinks during Drynuary. And I took over 1,800 photos! (And learned a lot about off-camera flash.)

Despite my original intent of vowing to stick firmly to the recipes as I found them, that didn't always happen. Sometimes recipes called for a very specific rum that I just didn't have on hand, so I did my best to substitute with one of a vaguely same style. If I had to do this over again, I would have stuck with Martin and Rebecca Cate's recommendation in their amazing book, Smuggler's Cove, to basically start by buying one bottle of each style of rum per their handy guide. As time wore on during this project, I resigned myself to not having to be perfect and orthodox about it. If there's one thing I came away from this project with is the belief that for me, tiki and tiki drinks are mostly about good company, escapism, fun, not taking oneself too seriously. There are folks who obsess over rums, distillation procedures, and producers of exotic liqueurs - and that's great - people like that move the entire world of exotic cocktails forward. But that's just not who I am. I'm happy to simply enjoy a well-crafted exotic cocktail with a fun garnish. A cocktail with a fun and interesting history and made according to the specs is a huge plus. But I'd rather drink a mediocre drink in an otherwise tikified-to-the-max atmosphere with good company, than a "perfect" one made with obscure rums and unicorn horns in my home bar, by myself.

Before I get to the drink, I would like to thank my fabulous wife, Jen LiMarzi, for encouraging this fun little project but mostly for putting up with all manner of weird ingredients in the fridge, near-weekly kitchen messes, more butchered pineapples than I can count, and the constant noise of our crushed-ice maker - thanks dear! (Buy her latest Kindle Single here - it's really funny! I guarantee you will laugh!) And thank you to my readers for checking out my blog, photos, Instagram posts, etc.

And now ... the final drink! The Honi Honi.

I first heard about this lovely concoction only recently, in an interview of my internet friend and fellow tikiphile Genevieve, about her and her partner Jim's amazing home tiki bar, the Lime Lounge (also check out Jim's awesome surf rock band, the Men in Gray Suits!). As it turns out, the Honi Honi is one of Gen's favorite tiki drinks - and now I can see why. 

Simply put, a Honi Honi is a Mai Tai made with bourbon instead of rum. From the info I could find online and in the books I have, this seems to have originated from Trader Vic's, and continues to be on TV's menus at their locations around the world. And, there's a recipe for it in my copy of Trader Vic's Tiki Party book. Given that my first drink for this blog was a TV Mai Tai and the fact that it's my favorite cocktail of all time, the Honi Honi seemed like a good way to end. 

Here it is:

1.00 oz. fresh lime juice
0.50 oz. orange Curacao
0.50 oz. orgeat syrup
0.25 oz. rock candy syrup
2.00 oz. bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)

Add at least two cups of crushed ice to a cocktail shaker, and add the above ingredients, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Serve in a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and the spent lime shell. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Since this was my last drink for the blog, and since I had exactly 4 ounces of bourbon left in my bottle, I made this one a double :) I garnished with mint, a homemade maraschino cherry speared to a spent lime shell, and a cocktail umbrella.

Again, I can see why my friend Gen loves this drink - it's got all the elements that make the Mai Tai so great. But the substitution of bourbon for the rum takes it in a new direction. Though I know next to nothing about bourbon, I think that Buffalo Trace is a really good bourbon to use here as well - it's characteristics are actually not that far off from from a dark rum - it has hints of vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, but also has more of an oak-y, slightly smoky quality that makes this drink unique. Did it unseat the Trader Vic Mai Tai as my favorite? Not quite, but it did make it into my "Top 12" list below. Fantastic drink - give this one a try today.

Well, that's a wrap! It's possible that I'll be posting something new every now and again, but it won't be on the regular. I still plan to keep learning about and trying my hand at making new (to me) tiki cocktails. You can find me on Instagram as @erichauser.

In the meantime, check out my pal Lucas' (a.k.a. The Meek Tiki) site and also @denvertikigirl's Instagram feed - she's mixing her way through all 166 recipes in Trader Vic's Bartenders Guide!


Top 12 Cocktails

Since I couldn't narrow this down to just 5 or 10, here are my Top 12 (perfect for someone with a much more easily attainable goal of one new drink per month rather than every week!):

2. Suffering Bastard

1. Mai Tai


Cocktail #51: Marlin

As I've said before, I'm a sucker for blue drinks. They can be so striking and so kitschy (and in my view, delicious), that I really enjoy one every so often.

I came across this recipe in Jeff Berry's Intoxica! and it immediately appealed to me - the drink includes blue curacao, a good dose of citrus, and marachino liqueur - sounded right up my alley. Berry credits this modern era drink recipe to Clancy Carroll, a Milwaukee-based music journalist. Here's how to make one:

0.50 oz. fresh lime juice
0.50 oz. fresh lemon juice
0.50 oz. orgeat
0.50 oz. maraschino liqueur
0.50 oz. blue curacao
1.00 oz. Martinique rum (I used the closest I had on hand - a rhum Barbancourt from Haiti)
1.00 oz. light Puerto Rican rum (again - closest I had on hand was Plantation 3 Star).

Shake with ice cubes and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with green and red maraschino cherries skewered on a marlin swizzle stick.

Given the title of this blog, I added a couple extra flourishes as garnishes - a pineapple wedge and drink umbrella. The marlin swizzle sticks are, of course, available on Amazon, and they are even made in the USA.

To me, the flavor that came through the most with this cocktail was the maraschino liqueur, followed closely by the lemon and lime juices; the rums somewhat took a backseat. When I make this again, I would cut back the maraschino by maybe .25 oz. and also maybe knock .25 oz. of lemon juice off as well, to cut down on the pucker factor. But even so, this drink went down easily, and was immensely pleasurable, especially on a warm July day.

Well, one more cocktail to go! Stay tuned for when I end this little project next week with my final drink of the 52. Thanks for reading!

Given the name of this drink, I'll leave you with this clip from the film version of the classic Hemingway story, The Old Man and the Sea.