Story by Becky Speere
A recent event held at the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort celebrated the multifaceted flavors of island cuisine. Executive chef Jonathan Pasion, from Kō Restaurant, and chef Lanai Tabura, host of Cooking Hawaiian Style and winner of the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, took the evening to great heights. They opened with a selection of Native Hawaiian dishes, then cast a wide net to capture the unique cuisine of Maui’s plantation-era immigrants, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino and Portuguese flavors.
One of the most memorable dishes from the soiree was a luscious Kona abalone, prawn and garlic-chive dumpling, sprinkled with lip-numbing Szechuan peppercorns, black vinegar and garlic-chili oil. And just as memorable — if not more so — was the cocktail that accompanied the dish: the Year of the Tiger. My first taste was the herbaceous gin floater, and the second sip uncovered a gamut of flavors, from fruity to sweet-and-sour to salty.
Make this fun cocktail to celebrate 2022, the Year of the Tiger, or simply to ring in the weekend! Gàn bēi! (Cheers!)
Year of the Tiger
Makes 1 drink
- 2 ounces fresh-squeezed mandarin juice
- 1 ounce lychee puree*
- ¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1½ ounces Empress gin
- orange slice
- vanilla simple syrup
- li hing mui powder**
Directions To make garnish, dip orange slice in vanilla simple syrup and sprinkle generously with li hing mui powder. Set aside. Add the first three cocktail ingredients to a shaker with crushed ice. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Slowly pour in gin; you want it to float on top, above the other ingredients. Garnish with orange slice.
*Puree canned lychee and juice until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve.
**Order fresh Maui loquat li hing mui powder at travelingplum.com, or DIY the flavor by wetting the rim with lime juice and dipping it in fine salt.