tiki cocktail mixology with hotel wailea’s head bartender? sign me up! we learned tricks & tips for recreating hotel wailea’s delicious tropical tiki cocktails at home in a 1-hour complementary mixology class taught poolside at hotel wailea. it was a highlight of our stay & has been keeping us very well refreshed ever since!
when we arrived at hotel wailea, i was so excited to learn that the next morning before the pool opened, hotel wailea would be hosting a complimentary a tropical tiki cocktail mixology class with the resort’s head bartender.
um, have i entered foodie traveler’s dream vacation?
i think so, probably.
after spending one day at the pool & having the opportunity to taste the majority of the specialty cocktails on their cocktail list, i became even more excited to learn tips & tricks from the mastermind behind all the deliciousness. hotel wailea’s cocktails are straightforward but all highlight bold flavors local to hawaii. they are fresh, fruity (but balanced!) & full of flavor – the perfect refreshment to accompany a poolside day full of the warm hawaiian sun.
needless to say, the next day i woke up like a kid on christmas morning. i dragged chris out of bed (happy wife, happy life #amiright??) & we made our way over to the poolside bar for tropical mixology with james.
james, the head-honcho at the poolside bar, is just what you’d imagine out of a cocktail-slinging texan in maui: an engaging storyteller with a larger than life personality. the kind of guy who makes you feel at home within seconds & keeps you laughing whenever he’s around.
& all that aside, let me tell you…dude also knows how to make a kick ass cocktail.
over the course of the next hour chris & i, along with a handful of other couples, watched along as james did just that. he walked us through 2 delicious cocktail recipes that are as easy to make at home as they are to enjoy.
the best part? we also got to taste each one!
first was a fizzy elderflower libation that is equally easy to make & impressive to serve, making it a perfect refreshment to share with friends when you host a celebratory cocktail hour.
simply mix over ice in a cocktail shaker equal parts elderflower liquor & a sweetened syrup of your choice & shake that baby up.
each couple got to choose between honey or hibiscus (& based on my affinity for all things hawaiian & bright pink, you know what chris & i went with), but the sky is really the limit with the sweetened syrup. you could use anything with a light & floral flavor profile, you just want to avoid bold flavors that will overpower the delicate elderflower. even a plain old simple syrup would do the trick!
once completely shaken, simply pour the sweetened elderflower liquor into a champagne flute, top off with fizzy & crisp prosecco, finish a twist of lemon, & make a toast. salut!
next up, the quintessential tropical tiki cocktail – the mai tai.
i’ll be the first to admit that before we got to hotel wailea the idea of a mai tai sounds so dated & overdone that i wasn’t too crazy about giving one a try, but i’m so glad i got over myself because it was love at first sip.
a well-made mai tai is seriously hawaii in a glass.
james’ tutorial broke the mai tai down into its seven essential ingredients, making it pretty clear to me that as long as your home bar is well-stocked with bar basics, you can enjoy the taste of hawaii wherever you are. all you need is: white rum, nut liqueur, pineapple juice, fruit juice, lime juice, dark rum, & a garnish.
james used amaretto & fresh lilikoi juice (i.e. hawaiian passion fruit – my absolute favorite fruit flavor in the galaxy), & it’s how i fully intend to drink mai tais from now on.
james also showed us that the key for a show-stopping mai tai is shaking this mixture as though your life is on the line, which will create proper aeration, resulting in the lightest, frothiest, & most refreshing tiki cocktail you’ve ever had.
james finished our mai tais with a float of dark rum (mmm), garnished generously with mint (double mmm!), served each of his eager students their mai tai, & class was dismissed for another day of tropical poolside bliss. hotel wailea (& james!) – you’ve won my heart. we will be back soon. mahalo!