tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui

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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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.tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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!

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. tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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!

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. tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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!

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!tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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!

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. tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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!

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.tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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!

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. tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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!

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. tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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! hotel wailea (& james!) – you’ve won my heart.  we will be back soon.  mahalo!tiki cocktail mixology at hotel wailea | wailea, maui via playswellwithbutter | 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!

so now that you know what my go-to tiki cocktail will be for any tropical vacation, i have to know – what’s the best cocktail you’ve had throughout your travels?  where did you get it?  do you make it at home?

About jess

i help modern gals turn everyday moments into celebrations with recipes that are just as easy as they are elegant.

4 Comments

  1. Jesse, Your photos are da bomb! Makes this non-drinker want a cocktail right now.

  2. Love this, Jess! That class looked so fun! If you ask my husband, his best cocktail was a banana colada in Isla Mujeres, MX. It WAS delish….just not super manly. #amiright? 😉
    For me, I’m a love everything kinda gal. It’s hard to pinpoint one specific cocktail, BUT since we’re talking Maui I’ll #tbt to my Maui vaca in January where I do remember a oh, so delish cocktail. Place: Leilani’s on the beach (Kaanapali).
    Cocktail: Ginger Hoku
    “Vodka, ginger beer, mango puree, fresh lime juice, fresh mint, orange bitters” I can still taste it.
    Since there’s a good chance you’ll get back to Maui before I will, check it out and have one for me! 😉 xo, karley

    • Karley, i LOVE it! laughing out loud to myself thinking of him drinking a banana colada! 🙂 your maui cocktail sounds riiiiight up my alley…i think i’m definitely going to try my hand at it over this holiday weekend!

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