Hale Pili

A little while ago I moved, which caused an idea to sprout for a drink, not necessarily the greatest of ideas, but a daydream based more on garnishing than flavor.  I thought of the  thatched roofs of the Pacific Islands, and then more specifically Hawai’i’s ancient Hale Pili, meaning “house thatched with pili grass.”  The idea asked a serious question:  Do I truly want to make a house as a garnish?

After too much time passed it occurred to me of my failing to build the drink was due to the garnish.  The untested recipe written on paper stalled due to an appearance, which felt embarrassing a bit.  The ideal chained the idea.  I stubbornly decided to garnish the use of the fruit flavors (which provided the aromas as well), and moved on with my life by making the drink.  Plus, I wanted to taste this drink and looked forward to proving how much I thought I would like it.  However, at the moment of decision, the original garnish came back to me in another way.

The thatched roof idea did not turn out successfully in the end.  I included it just because it took me so long to formulate the idea, but more for your amusement in the dumb-looking drink.  Below is an image of what the historical Hale Pili looked, and then my poor excuse of an over-elaborate garnish (the peal of a pomelo).  Then farther down is what I drank.

Hale Pili

The inspiring image in my head…

Think of the early Beatles - and one of them with a cigarette

Think of the early Beatles – and one of them with a cigarette in his mouth.

I aimed for some flavors of Hawai’i:  Pineapple, coconut, ginger, jabong, and ohia ‘ai, a mountain apple, hoping for a balance of sweetness to sourness, but most of all what delights the harvest there can bring.  I know there are many ingredients, that is separate flavors, in the drink, perhaps too many.  Yet, some flavors teamed with similars, and complicated the final combing into an imagined setting of the islands, hopefully not muddying, but layering flavors.  I heard a pomelo would approximate the flavor of the jabong, as well as hearing a mixture of a tart apple and a pear resembles an ohia ‘ai.  Of course I am likely wrong in hearing these.  After all, what ratios of sour apple and pear should I have added to equivocate the resemblance to the mountain apple?  And I certainly could not have tested the guess by comparing it with the genuine.  Kōloa coconut rum, an excellent and accurate product, tasting remarkably fresh and clean, my favorite coconut rum brand, I travelled pretty far to use this bottle (Miami Rum Festival).  I felt brown sugar, instead of white or raw, might offer a deeper, richer flavor to round the fruits together, not a dark brown, but a light brown sugar.  However, the key to this drink truly is its fresh fruit, and how they luxuriously mingle.

So fresh and light - a bit of work, but without fail, very much worth it

So fresh and light – a bit of work, but without fail, very much worth it.  Make sure to eat this garnish with all combined flavors.

Hale Pili 
2 oz Kōloa coconut rum
2 large chunks of pineapple
1 segment pomelo (jabong)
1 cored mountain apple (1/4 tart apple & 1/4 pear)
1/2 oz light brown sugar syrup
ginger (sliced to coin thinness)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Muddle fruit & root with syrup and bitters.  I had better luck muddling the apple first alone (cut into small chunks), then adding the ginger, then the rest of the fruits.  Add the rum.  Shake and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with grass hut looking roof, or skewering the pineapple/pomelo/apple & pear.  Add cocktail straw…or not.  Add large pieces of ice if you are in no hurry.

This drink is not hot, but an extremely pleasant sipper.  Enjoy.

Singapore Sling


Said to come from the drink, The Straits Sling, the Singapore Sling has a long history of struggling authenticity, whether the first practiced recipe was lost and experimented back to life from a loyal customer, or many names throughout time coming out with their claim to knowledge.  For me at least, it’s not so much what ingredients, but how much of what ingredients.  Regardless if the original Singapore Sling came from the Raffle Hotel or not, the amounts of the ingredients have altered through time.  I’ll first show you The Raffle recipe, then the one I like best.  I’ve tasted others too, even liked some, and am not saying there is only one recipe to drink, even suggesting you try all the different recipes you find to see for yourself.

Raffle Hotel recipe
1 oz gin
1/2 oz cherry brandy
4 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Bénédictine
1/3 oz grenadine
dash of Angostura bitters

Garnish with a slice of pineapple and cherry.

Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh extensively researched the Singapore Sling, writing an article for Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail, later stating in his book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, “Strictly speaking, the Singapore Sling is no longer a sling at all, insofar as the flavor and composition of that drink form differed from the cocktail” and then describing it as “the prototype of the future Tiki genre.”

Okay, a quick history for reference:  Before there was the cocktail, which is a generic term in modern times, what began it all was the punch.  The earliest British documented reference to punch dates to 1632 from India by sailors and employees of the British East India Company. The word comes from the Hindustani “panch,” meaning “five flavorings,” that is – spirits plus lemon, sugar, water or tea, and spice.  Most punches at that time were mixed from wine or brandy.  Later, when the Barbadian and Jamaican rum trade began to thrive, rum took the place of brandy in many recipes. In 1655, British punches began using rum.  There are several rum-based punches, the two most historical rum punches are the Planter’s Punch and Bajan Rum Punch.  Bajan (Barbadian) Rum Punch is one of the oldest rum punches and a simple recipe commemorated in a national rhyme, “One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak.” That is: one part lime juice, two parts sweetener, three parts rum (preferably Barbados), and four parts water.  The sling showed signs around 1759, which is a spirit, sugar and water, and mainly at first garnished with citrus peel and nutmeg.  Close to 1800, the sling found itself with the addition of bitters, making it a cocktail. The earliest definition of the cocktail in print called the beverage a “bittered sling,” a mixture of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters.  The definition of a sling is an iced alcoholic drink, typically containing gin, water, sugar, and lemon or lime juice.

I enjoy Haigh’s drink recipe better because of how he changed it, in effect highlighting the flavors where they were not as perceptible.  Believe it or not, the flavor of the gin is not as pronounced thanks to the other adjustments.  Lessening the pineapple juice makes it less of a dominant flavor, and more like a spice, as well as upping the lime juice and Cherry Heering please my taste buds more desirably.  Understandably, adding soda water thins the drink, but thankfully so since the earlier recipes did not succeed with me.  Maybe Dr. Cocktail simply made it more refreshing as well.

Ted Haigh's version
2 oz gin (I prefer a dry gin)
2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Bénédictine
1/4 oz grenadine (remember: real pomegranate syrup)
dash of Angostura bitters
soda water

Shake all but soda with ice.  Strain into ice-filled, pre-chilled, collins glass.  Top with soda water and stir.  Garnish with cherry, orange wheel, and pineapple (sorry – no pineapple on hand for the image).