If I had to draw up a list to show which cocktails guests in my private domain most frequently request, the White Russian would for sure be among the top five. This is certainly due to its big popularity and its place in popular culture, which was largely influenced by the cult movie “The Big Lebowski”. Personally, I have nothing against a good White Russian, but I have to admit that I never actually prepare it for myself.
Maybe that is because in 99% of the cases I am making my personal decision for a particular drink dependent on the basic spirit I am in the mood for. Well, and vodka is pretty much in last place among all the available classic cocktail spirits. Therefore – and to offer guests something different – it is worth to try the Mauna Kea Kiaha as an alternative. I came upon this cocktail through Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s highly recommended tiki book “Sippin ‘Safari”. Originally, it was served in 1973 at the Batik Bar of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and it completely relies on the flavor of coconut. Nevertheless, it offers a certain proximity to the White Russian, which is mainly due to the combination with coffee liqueur (in the original it calls for Cayman Reef Kona Coffee Liqueur, which is hardly available in Europe – Kahlua is a proper substitute). The liqueur beautifully interacts with creamy Coconut. As a base for this drink, I like to use the Plantation Three Stars (and if you should like it a bit more elaborate, you can even infuse it with raw cocoa nibs beforehand. That will ruin the creamy white color of the cocktail, but it tastes a little bit more multilayered).
Recipe “Mauna Kea Kiaha” (as described by Beachbum Berry):
4.5 cl white rum
1.5 cl coffee liqueur
3 cl coconut milk (from Tetra Pak or tin)
2.25 cl coconut cream
about 2 hands full of crushed ice
Preparation: Blend all ingredients in a blender (about 15 seconds) and pour into pre-chilled glass.
Glass: coconut shell (in this case a tumbler inside a coconut shell)
Garnish: fresh mint and brandied cherries
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online.