Bonus Cocktail: The Lani-Honi

Lani-Honi Cocktail.

Some cocktails we expect to be good. They are famous, they are everywhere, people write songs about them, name bars and casinos after them. Yes, I am talking about Margaritas, but the same can be said for Martinis, Mai-Tais and Manhattans. These cocktails are icons. And they are (mostly) great drinks.

But then there are surprises. Cocktails you would never think of, often with somewhat esoteric ingredients, but that just taste great. This week’s bonus cocktail, the Lani-Honi is one of the surprises. And a very pleasant surprise, at that.

The Lani-Honi has only three ingredients and is easy to make.

The pleasant surprise is that the Lani-Honi is, technically, a tiki drink, but it includes just three ingredients: Benedictine, white rum and lemon juice served on the rocks. It tastes like a rich, lemony and slightly herbal punch- a simple drink but a good one. And it goes down very, very easy. And not only is the Lani-Honi an easy drink to like, it takes almost no effort to make, and you can make/serve it in batches. The Lani-Honi’s only real downside is that it could be a “dangerous” drink. And perhaps one extra downside is that you need some Benedictine.

A good excuse to get some Benedictine.

Benedictine is a French herbal liqueur that’s been around (depending on who you believe) since the 16th century. The provenance and the recipe are somewhat in question, but we do know that Benedictine was mass-produced (and well-marketed) starting in the 1860’s. With sweet, spicy and herbal notes, that some liken to cola, Benedictine became a very popular cocktail ingredient until the middle of the 20th century, when it started lose favor. But many home bars will have a bottle of Benedictine gathering dust somewhere, and the Lani-Honi is a good reason to break it out, or even buy a bottle.

We found this recipe in Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s iPhone Tiki Drink app. We bought a bottle of Benedictine for some classic cocktails, but we didn’t find anything we loved (yet), so we started to look at other uses and searched the Tiki Drink app for Benedictine. More famously, Benedictine is in the Singapore Sling, but the Lani-Honi looked tasty and easy to make. And it was. Carolyn and I both loved the Lani-Honi and we plan to serve it at a few summer parties. We think almost everyone will enjoy it, the Lani-Honi just feels like a cocktail that will please a crowd.

Art from a Matson Cruise menu.

And that may not be too surprising. The Lani-Honi originated as a cocktail served on Matson Line Cruises in the 1960’s. Cruises back then were quite a luxurious affair and good libations were thoroughly enjoyed. We actually collect (and use as art) Matson line cruise menus, so we immediately got an extra kick out of finding this recipe. Sometimes a cocktail not only surprises you with good flavors, but some fun “story” as well.

The Lani-Honi:

(From “Beachbum” Berry and the Matson cruise lines)


  • 1 and ½ oz. Benedictine
  • 1 oz. light rum
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice


  1. Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a goblet or wine glass filled with ice. Serve.

19 thoughts on “Bonus Cocktail: The Lani-Honi

  1. Have you tried a Frisco? Rye, Benedictine, and lemon juice – Frank Bruni wrote about it in The NY TImes a while back. I played with the proportions so much I got too drunk to remember what the best combination is, so you’ll have to figure it out and post it – it’s kind of a winter drink.

  2. In a big coincidence, I had not heard of this drink until last Saturday when I was doing my bar-tending night and a cocktail enthusiast patron waxed lyrical with it, noted my scepticism and insisted i mix him one up and try it. I think his proportions were a bit different (I have them jotted down on the back of a card somewhere – maybe 2 oz rum, 1 Bene, and half lemon), but it WAS really nice. I’ll have to try a whole one and maybe compare the two recipes.

    I love Bene. I can jsut sip it straight on a cold night, with tonic and ice or in a B and B (maybe with a little St Germaine if I’m feeling extravagant), and as Lettershead says, it goes well with Rye (and gin of course) and there’s recipes with Rye and Bene out there.

    • Funny, but a few friends also stumbled on this drink…it is a good summer recipe here- so it might be the season.

      We also like Bene, but this is the first summer drink, other than the Singapore Sling, with it we can think of. It is also the only drink that has so much of it…but it is very, very tasty..

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  6. Loving your blog–especially the cocktail section! Must find time for more perusing. Thanks for stopping by foodforfun for scones so I could find you:-)

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