It’s day 5 of our Week of Holiday Cocktails and I have to admit, out of all of the drinks, I couldn’t wait to share with you all this one…..the Hōkū
At it’s core, it embodies each level that I look for in the flavor profile of an ideal cocktail. It’s highly aromatic, packs a great level of citrus acidity and well—it’s quite strong. Furthermore, the Hōkū is a nod to South East Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The Hōkū begins with a Kaffir Lime Infused Gin. Kaffir limes are prevalent in Southeast Asian cuisine and have not only a distinct flavor but appearance. On average they are the size of a small golf ball but have a bumpy exterior. They have a wonderful citrus tone that is reminiscent of lemongrass.
To make Kaffir Lime Infused Gin, place 15-20 kaffir lime leaves that have been slightly torn in a mason jar (or other resealable container). Add the zest of 1-2 kaffir limes and top off the jar with your choice of gin. Cap the jar and refrigerate for about 2-3 weeks, shaking the jar every few days. You’ll be surprised how well the kaffir limes pair with gin and it really adds such an unexpected kick.
The other wonderful component to this drink is starfruit. Not only are they quite pretty but they’ve got a unique, subtle flavor. To me, starfruits taste a bit like a grapes with a hint of citrus. I muddle starfruit with the kaffir lime infused gin, kaffir limes and a bit of sugar. The juices are then topped off with tonic water. As for the name, Hōkū is the Hawaiian word for star.
The Hōkūs pictured here were quite near and dear to my heart as I was able to use the starfruit from our mom’s old tree that now resides at our aunties home. Our mom was so proud of this tree as the fruit it grew were small but had the perfect starfruit flavor. She would often make a homey Vietnamese soup with them – Canh Khế or a bright Vietnamese salad – Gỏi Khế. Somehow I don’t think Mom would have been surprised to find that I’ve used her starfruit in a cocktail :)
And with that friends — Ōkole maluna! (Bottoms up!)
1 cup roughly chopped fresh starfruit
1 small kaffir lime, cut into quarters
1 teaspoon raw sugar
4 ounces kaffir lime infused gin*
tonic water, about 6-8 ounces
2-3 dashes bitters
starfruit slices and kaffir lime leaves for garnish (optional)
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the starfruit, lime, and raw sugar. Add the gin and fill the shaker halfway with ice. Vigorously shake for 15-20 seconds and strain the liquids between two glasses filled with ice. Top off each glass with the tonic water and add a dash of bitters to each. Garnish with starfruit slices and kaffir lime leaves.