I recently returned from a tour of the Hawaiian islands as part of my responsibilities as KaiserPenguin’s West Coast Correspondent. Among the most intriguing cocktails I encountered in my travels was this gem, known as King’s Mighty Punch, at Hilo’s Cafe Pesto on the big island. When I requested the recipe, the bartender supplied it only in the vaguest of terms (“mostly pineapple juice,” “a splash of limeade,” etc.), so what we have here is my own recipe, the product of reverse engineering.
Kamehameha’s Mighty Punch
- 2oz. pineapple juice
- 0.5oz mango puree
- 1oz. tahitian limeade (see below)
- 1.5oz amber rum (I used Flor de Cana 5-year)
- cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients except pepper with ice cubes and shake. Strain into a glass with a wide mouth. Dust with cayenne pepper and garnish if you must.
There are a number of notable elements to this drink. The most obvious is the cayenne pepper, which, when dusted over the golden cocktail, hearkens to the vibrant red and yellow of Kamehameha’s ‘ahu’ula, or feather cloak. But this is no decorative garnish — the pepper’s heat suffuses the concoction, adding heat to the back of the drink, and a subtle flavor as well. But that’s not the only delicious new ingredient in this drink….
I’m even more in love with the other special ingredient here — limeade. When I asked the bartender about the recipe, the mention of “tahitian limeade” of course caught my interest, mainly because I didn’t know what it was. She indicated that it was a local brand, Hanaoka Farms, made with coconut water. I tracked the limeade down at a local health food store and checked out the ingredient list — lime juice, water, sugar, and “coconut.” In attempting to recreate the ingredient, I took the bartender’s word that the “coconut” on the label was indeed coconut water.
When I make traditional lemonade or limeade, I mix fresh juice with 3-5 parts simple syrup, as I usually have it on hand and it combines nicely. In this case I simply substituted coconut water for the regular stuff. The resulting limeade is totally delicious — the coconut flavor makes itself right at home!
I took my several tries to get the formula right (or, as I remember it). I know that the original calls for Myers (which you can also use), but in testing, I found it overpowering. Perhaps the bartender had a light hand with the rum — I recall that the drink wasn’t too potent. My version’s not that strong either — a shortcoming, perhaps. But, to quote Rick, “you can always have another.” Yes you can.
As usual, we are left with as many questions as answers:
- Should I have bribed the bartender to try and get a written recipe?
- Cayenne pepper on your drink: so good or no good?
- What drinks have you tried to reverse engineer?