Best Cocktail Drinks for a Luau

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They’re cold, colorful, and crammed with color and taste. No luau would be complete without an assortment of tropical drinks. The drink table should offer everything from high octane mai tai’s to Hawaiian punch for the children. Here’s how to make the beverage station as satisfying as the rest of the luau. Buy or rent an assortment of glassware for daiquiris, mai tais, blended concoctions, and of course, cups for punch. In advance, prepare the drink decorations: citrus peels, pineapple and maraschino cherries on colored toothpicks, paper umbrellas, colorful straws, and fruit-imbedded ice. A day or two in advance, drop a cherry, pineapple chunk, or melon ball into the center of each compartment of ice trays. Fill with water (or juice) and freeze. The cubes will be a colorful addition to your drinks.

There are certain traditional beverages that belong at every luau. Guests who like their wine and beer will prefer those choices over tropical drinks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a Hawaiian twist. In fact, brands from Kona Brewing Company and Primo Island Lager are popular beer choices. Hawaiian punch no longer means the powdered stuff that comes in a package. For adults, mix various rums like Limon, Razz, and Orange with cranberry and pineapple juice into a punch bowl and float strawberries and pineapple tidbits.

For children and teetotalers, mix orange and pineapple juice with lemon-lime soda or ginger ale, plus Grenadine for coloring. Add sliced fruit to float. Just make sure that the punch bowls are labeled better yet, serve the non-alcoholic version along with soda pops on a separate table.

Unless you have a bar with a bartender mixing up each drink individually, it’s easiest to select two or three tropical drinks from the recipes below. If you’re serving a crowd, it’s best to have drink mixes made up in quantity. Then they can be individually poured over shaved ice and garnished as each person comes to the table. Or several can be made, put on a tray, and served by a waiter throughout the crowd. While many tropical drinks are available in pre-mixed form, it’s fun and tastier to make them from scratch.

Mai Tais: The basic mai tai is a mix of rums, orange Curacao, almond syrup, simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water and brought to a boil), limes, and orange juice. To make 16 at a time, combine 1 cup light rum, 1 cup dark rum, cup Curacao, cup almond flavored syrup, cup simple syrup or triple sec, the juice of 5 limes, and 1 quart orange juice. Mix in a pitcher and pour over shaved ice in 8 or 12 oz glasses. Garnish each with a slice of lime or orange.

Pina Colada: It is believed that this drink meaning “strained coconut” came from Puerto Rican bartender Ramon Marrero in 1954. A good pina colada, no matter where it is served, features Puerto Rican rum. Combine 1 ounce of Crme de Coconut with 2 ounces of pineapple juice. Add 1 ounce light rum and pour mix over 1 cup shaved ice. Add 1 ounce cream. The drink can be made stronger or weaker by the proportion of rum to other ingredients. Garnish with fruit and a paper umbrella.

The Blue Hawaiian made famous by the Elvis Presley movie is similar to the Pina Colada except for its blue color. Mix 1 ounce Creme de Coconut, 2 ounces pineapple juice, 1 ounce Blue Curacao, and 1 ounce Light Rum.

Daiquiris can be served straight up or frozen. The traditional flavor is lime but strawberry and banana are also favorites in the frozen variety. For a lime daiquiri, mix 1.5 ounces of light rum with 1 ounce of lime juice and 1 tsp. sugar. Pour into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and pour through a strainer into a cocktail glass. For strawberry or banana daiquiris, add 3 ounces of strawberries or bananas be sure to strain well when pouring into the glass. Serve with sugar on the rim of the glass. An easy recipe for frozen daiquiris for a crowd is as simple of combining 12 ounces of frozen lemonade concentrate with 6 ounces of frozen limeade concentrate with 4-5 cups of water and a 750 ml bottle of light rum. Mix and freeze overnight. Stir well before serving to recombine the alcohol. Garnish glass with whipped cream and a cherry.

Mojitos: If you want to fall under the “mojo” (magic spell) of this popular drink, simply increase the rum ratio. For everyone else, combine 2 ounces of light rum with 2 ounces of simple syrup mashed with lime. Add two mint leaves and pour into a shaker with ice. Add two ounces of light rum, shake well, and pour into a glass. Add both a splash of Ginger Ale and plain soda water. Enjoy!

Tropical drinks add color, fun, and delicious flavors to an already perfect luau. Pick your favorite and toast the Hawaiian sunset (or any other sunset) and say “Mahalo” for Nature and creativity combined in a frosty glass.

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Category: Eating
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