The Makahiki Cocktail

In elementary school, we had an annual festival celebrating the Hawaiian season Makahiki, which is somewhat akin to the Western holiday Thanksgiving. One component of Makahiki is the practice of offering ho’okupu (gifts) to Lono, the Hawaiians’ god of agriculture, fertility, and rain. These ho’okupu were usually comprised of strong crops harvested over the year.

My drink pays tribute to the spirit of the Makahiki season by featuring three of Hawaii’s strongest crops: coffee, sugar cane, and pineapple. Those flavors are paired with a spirit (Aguardiente Grogue de Santo Antao, 40% ABV) and a liqueur (Ponche de Santo Antao, 30% ABV) from Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking island-nation off the coast of West Africa, that nearly shares the same latitude as the Hawaiian archipelago. I guess you could say that this drink is my ho’okupu to anyone who appreciates a hand-crafted, kitchen-driven cocktail?

The Makahiki Cocktail comes as the result of a series of kitchen/bar projects I’ve experimented with at Clio, alongside (and mentored by) Chef de Cuisine Douglas Rodrigues and Bar Manager Todd Maul.

Using a benchtop Jouan CR-422 centrifuge, fresh sugar cane juice (extracted in-house from Hawaiian sugar cane), fresh lime juice, and fresh pineapple juice (also extracted in-house) are spun at 5,000 rpm for an hour and clarified.

Clio Centrifuge

Clio Sugar Cane Extractor

The sediment from the pineapple juice is thickened and turned into a fully-edible ‘paint’—more on that in a minute.

(This drink began life as an attempt to fully deconstruct a pineapple, and use its parts in shockingly experimental ways: At one point we had taken pineapple pulp, dropped it into liquid nitrogen, shattered it, and realized the pieces looked like pop-rocks. We adhered the pop-rocks to the bottom of a glass with ‘glue’ made from centrifuge sediment, and when adding soda, the pop-rocks wiggled free and floated to the surface. It was fun to watch but too silly to drink.)

The Makahiki has the pineapple constituted 3 ways: solid (muddled at the bottom and in the divider disc sandwiched between the 2 layers of crushed ice; as paint (brushed around the glass on the inside of the top layer using a pastry brush); and as a chip (garnish).

Pineapple Paint

The paint is really bright, both in color and flavor. I use a brush to apply it to the glass, and then when the drink is decanted, it falls into solution, adding its cheery flavor to the drink. And yes, it really does come out super yellow; I didn’t need to add food coloring or anything! I got the idea to make pineapple paint after tasting a clarified genever gimlet Todd makes using lemon-lime paint. Mmmm!

Translucent Pineapple Chip Pre-Dehydration

Garnish-wise, the chip is a dehydrated candied pineapple slice that I made in the pastry kitchen, using a ring mold, a Cryovac, and glucose solution. I like to think that it’s allegorical to the sun rising over Haleakala—in this case, a huge mountain of crushed ice. Oh, and the marasca cherry is soaked in housemade allspice dram that I make too.

The Makahiki Cocktail

If you’re wondering about the color difference between the top and bottom layers, it is because the drink is filtering through the pineapple divider, and right after decanting & tea-straining, the coffee grinds tend to stay towards the top. As the drink sits a few minutes, the grinds move towards the bottom, and though the colors reverse, the flavor stays the same!!

Man I am really excited about this drink.

Still one or more two final touches before it’s ready to hit the road. Stay tuned…

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3 Responses to The Makahiki Cocktail

  1. Pingback: News from Clio• The Cocktail Journal • | • The Cocktail Journal •

  2. Tiare says:

    This was a really interesting post! the drink is beautiful. Your pineapple chips has such a fresh yellow color and when i compare to pictures of dehydrated pineapple chips made in the owen, they look more “greyish” how come is that difference you think?

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