The Honolulu Cocktail

Hugo Ensslin’s 1917 book Recipes for Mixed Drinks lists one version of the Honolulu Cocktail, and his is the recipe we’ll be featuring here. The Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930 lists two versions, one of which is identical to Ensslin’s. Meanwhile, The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, from 1935, features, under “Pre-Prohibition Cocktails,” three different versions, none of which match either Ensslin’s nor The Savoy’s other version. Clearly, then, this was a popular name for a cocktail, regardless of what was in it, conjuring up as it might have exciting visions of exotic tropical locales, proving that even before the advent of Tiki, the South Pacific was fertile ground for the imagination of bartenders and imbibers alike.

The Recipe:

1/3 gin

1/3 maraschino liqueur

1/3 Benedictine

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Honolulu Cocktail

I didn’t have high hopes for this one. That much maraschino usually means trouble, and Benedictine is often best in small doses as well. It was better than I expected, although still not great. The gin is just about covered up by the liqueurs, leaving you with a strong dose of maraschino’s earthy bitterness tempered by Benedictine’s herbal sweetness. Not an especially winning combination, but drinkable, at least. Three livers.


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