Story by Becky Speere
The reopening of the Luana Lounge at the Fairmont Kea Lani perfectly coincided with the arrival of our friends from California, who came to Maui to celebrate their birthdays. “Let’s meet at the hotel’s new poke bar, Pang’s Poke, and celebrate,” I suggested.
A gentle breeze wafting through the portico carried with it live music as we valeted the car. We sat down and perused the new menu, and were delighted by the creatively named cocktails such as Moana Mist and Painkillah. My husband, Chris, ordered the Angel’s Share Old Fashioned while I ordered the Makalapua, a mix of Maui-made Ocean Vodka, hibiscus syrup and fresh fruit juices topped with lavender bitters. Our friends ordered mai tais shaken with local Agricole rum, lime and curaçao and declared them amazing. And we were all especially impressed with the ice cubes: each was embossed with the Luana name and logo.
Flush with drinks, we were ready to dine, and ordered ‘ahi poke bowls, tiger shrimp, eggplant and seafood cocktails, as well as a Maui Cattle Co. beef burger brought over from the Burger Bar at the Fairmont’s AMA Bar & Grill. Tummy sated, it was time for a new cocktail — the Basil Schmasil.
Mixologist Chris Mikow came to greet our table. “I love this,” I said, holding up my drink. “It’s balanced and herbaceous. How did you come up with it?”
“I was discarding a lot of fresh basil picked from the hotel garden that was meant for a cocktail no one was ordering,” he said. “I felt challenged to create a gin-based drink utilizing that basil.” After much tweaking, Mikow devised the Basil Schmasil, which quickly rose to the top of the cocktail list. Visit Luana and try one for yourself!
Basil Schmasil Recipe
- 4–5 fresh basil leaves, plus 1 for garnish
- 1½ ounces Botanist Gin
- ¾ ounce Velvet Falernum
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
- 2 large dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 scoop ice
Muddle basil in a tin shaker. Add remaining ingredients and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with basil leaf.