On Friday March 26, all across Hawaii, folks are celebrating Prince Jonah Kūhio̅ Kalaniana’ole Day with luaus, parades, and canoe-races. Children get the day off of school and many shops are closed, as Hawaiians enjoy the festivities while celebrating the life and legacy of Prince Kūhio̅.
I thought I’d honor the Last Prince of Hawaii and the only royalty to ever hold public office by whipping up a Mai Tai fit for a monarch. Not only was Prince Kūhio̅ a skilled sportsman responsible for teaching Californians to surf (and the British), but he was an important figure that influenced the course of history for Hawaii and the entire United States.
There was something special about Prince Kūhio̅ even from a young age–his teachers nicknamed him Prince Cupid because of his charm and “the twinkle in his eyes.” During his youth, the young Prince studied in Hawaii, California, and the United Kingdom, where he took on a deep understanding of the state of the world and an appreciation for the small string of Islands he called home. While in school in Santa Cruz, CA in 1885, Kūhio̅ and his brothers taught the locals how to surf and five years later they would teach their English tutor John Wrightson to surf on the beaches of Northern England. After returning home to warmer water, and better surf conditions, Kūhio̅ found trouble in Paradise.
Through a coup, the Hawaiian Monarchy was overthrown in 1893 and it was replaced with a provisional government made up of foreign nationals. At the age of 24, Kūhio̅ took up arms against the Republic of Hawaii fighting in the Wilcox Rebellion. The short battle ultimately ended in a loss for Prince Kūhio̅ and his men, and Kūhio̅ narrowly avoided a death sentence. He served his full sentence in prison, surviving through daily visits from his fiance, Elizabeth Kahanu Kalanianaʻole. After his prison sentence, the United States annexed Hawaii, and Kūhio̅ traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa (even fighting for the British in the Second Boer War). Kūhio̅ received royal treatment throughout his travels, and he actively challenged racial stereotypes often using his fist and boot to get the message fully across.
Back home in Hawaii, Prince Kūhio̅ realized he could make a difference for his people through public policy. In local government Kūhio̅ represented native Hawaiians and fought for an independent Hawaii. Serving in the United States Congress from 1903 until his death in 1922, Kūhio̅ fought for women’s sufferage (earning the right for Hawaii to decide on their own), reorganized the Royal Order of Kamehameha, and put forth the first Hawaiian statehood act 40 years before it would go into effect. During his lifetime Prince Kūhio̅ fought for what he believed was right, and he did it with a charm and sense of humor befitting royalty. So this Prince Jonah Kūhio̅ Kalaniana’ole Day let’s raise a tiki drink in his honor and wish him a big mahalo.
Royal Mai Tai
Prep Time: 8 min
Makes: 2 servings
- 3 OZ WHITE RUM (TRY COTTON AND REED)
- 2 OZ BLACK RUM (I LIKE LYON DISTILLERY)
- 1 OZ GRAND MARNIER (OR TRIPLE SEC, ORANGE CURACAO, COINTREAU)
- 2 OZ FRESH ORANGE JUICE
- 4 OZ PINEAPPLE JUICE
- 2 OZ FRESH LIME JUICE (ABOUT THE JUICE OF TWO LIMES)
- 1.5 OZ ORGEAT SYRUP (SEE PRO TIPS OR SUB AMARETTO OR SIMPLE SYRUP WITH A DROP OF ALMOND EXTRACT)
- 1 CORED PINEAPPLE (OPTIONAL)
- 2 PINEAPPLE FONDS (OPTIONAL)
- MINIATURE UMBRELLA (OPTIONAL)
- MARASCHINO CHERRIES (OPTIONAL)
- Orgeat is the secret ingredient that takes Tiki drinks to the next level. While it can be purchased online, I’ll describe here my favorite method of making it at home. Otherwise, you can substitute with a drop of almond extract, but I highly recommend making orgeat syrup yourself. It yields about two cups, and keeps for 3-4 weeks in the fridge, giving you an excuse to have tiki drinks all month long.
- To make Orgeat, combine 1 ½ cups of water with 1 ½ cups of sugar and heat over the stove stirring constantly. Grind 2 cups of blanched almonds until they are a fine paste-y powder and set aside until the sugar is dissolved into the syrup. Over low heat stir in almond paste, and slowly increase the temperature to medium. Just before it boils, remove it from heat and let sit for 4-6 hours stirring every hour or so. Strain through two cheese cloths, capturing the liquid in a bowl, set almonds aside (they can be reused in additional batches or made into marzipan) stir in 1 oz. of brandy, and ¼ teaspoon of orange flower water (sometimes called orange blossom water). Bottle and store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
- I’ve seen recipes for Orgeat that use pistachios and hazelnuts instead of almonds, as well as orange bitters instead of orange flower water and vodka instead of brandy. Experimenting with the ingredients you have can lead to some fun and tasty takes on this delicious tiki syrup!
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