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 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.
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.
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.
(From “Beachbum” Berry and the Matson cruise lines)
- 1 and ½ oz. Benedictine
- 1 oz. light rum
- ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
- Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a goblet or wine glass filled with ice. Serve.